Published Date

May 1, 2004

Resource Type

Primary Source

This resource was developed in 2004 as part of “The Conquest of Mexico” by Nancy Fitch.

From Hernán Cortés, Cartas y relaciones de Hernan Cortés al emperador Carlos V, second letter, 134–35.

The day on which the priest departed there came a messenger from the people at Vera Cruz, who brought me intelligence that all the natives of the country had risen in rebellion, and joined Narváez, especially those of the city of Cempoal and its dependencies; and that not one of them could be induced to perform any service in the town, either in the garrison or otherwise, because, as they said, Narváez had told them I was a traitor, and that be bad come to seize me and all my companions but that having taken us prisoners we should leave the country. They added, that Narváez had a large force, while mine was but small; that he had many horses and a great deal of artillery, while I had little of either; and that their motto was, “viva quien vence,” long live the victorious! I was also informed by the same messenger that, according to the report of the Indians, Narváez was about to occupy the city of Cempoal with his army, and having already informed himself of its distance from Vera Cruz, the people of that place believed, from the accounts they had received of his wicked purposes, that he intended to attack them, aided by the Indians of Cempoal, and they gave me to understand that they should abandon the town rather than contend with him, and to avoid reproach take refuge in the mountains under the protection of a chief who is a vassal of your Highness and a friend to us; there they intended to remain until I sent them directions what to do.

As I perceived the great mischief that was about to result from this matter, and as the country had risen in support of Narváez, it appeared to me, that by going myself where he was, I should be able to quell the movement; since, when the Indians saw me in person they would not dare to show symptoms of disaffection. I also thought that I might bring about an arrangement with Narváez, by which so great a cause of scandal as had arisen might be effectively checked. Therefore I set out on the same day, leaving the garrison well supplied with maize and water, and containing five hundred men with several pieces of cannon.