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, 104–07.

[After putting Moctezuma under house arrest, Moctezuma went to the palace of Cacamazin, a Mexican prince, and put him under house arrest.]

Having advised with Moctezuma, I conferred the government of the province on his son called Cucuzcasin, in the name of your Majesty; and I directed all the communities and lords of the province to obey him as their ruler, until your Majesty should order otherwise. Accordingly, from that time he was recognized and obeyed as their sovereign, in the same manner as Cacamazin had been; and he also obeyed all the commands that I imposed on him in your Majesty’s name.

A few days after the imprisonment of Cacamazin, Moctezuma called together all the governors of the neighboring cities and states, and when they were assembled, he sent a invitation to me to join them; on my arrival, he addressed them as follows:

“My brethren and friends, you know that for a long period you, your fathers, and ancestors have been the subjects and vassals of my predecessors and myself, and that both by them and me you have been always well treated and honored. You have also done all that is due from good and loyal vassals to their liege lords; and I also believe that you have heard from your ancestors, that they were not natives of this land, but that they came to it from a great distance, under the conduct of a sovereign whose subjects they all were; he left them here, but after a considerable time he returned, and found that our ancestors had become numerous and well established in this country, having intermarried with the women of the land, by whom they had many children. On this account they were unwilling to go back with him, or to acknowledge him as their sovereign; whereupon he went away, saying that he would return, or send so great a force as would compel them to submit to him. You knew well that we have always looked for him and according to what this captain has told us of the king and lord, who has sent him here and also considering the quarter from which he says, he has come, I hold it certain, and you must be of the same opinion, that this is the sovereign, as he informs us, that, he had some knowledge of us there. And since our predecessors did not render their just service to their sovereign lord, let us perform our duty; and let us render thanks to our gods, that he, who was so long expected by them, has come in our day. I must, therefore, entreat, since all this is well known to you, that hereafter, instead of regarding as your sovereign, you will recognize and obey that great. king, as he is our natural ruler, and receive this his captain in place of him; and all the tributes and services which till now you have rendered to me, you will hereafter render and yield to him, as I likewise contribute and yield all that he requires of me; and thus besides performing your duty, you will gratify and oblige me.”

All this he said weeping with more tears and sighs than becomes a man to exhibit; and likewise all the princes who were present wept so much, that for a long time they were unable to answer. And I assure your sacred Majesty that there was not a Spaniard who heard the discourse, that did not feel great compassion. After their grief had abated, they answered, that they recognized him as their sovereign, and had engaged to do whatever he might command; and that on this account, as well as for the reasons he had assigned, they were willing to act as he required; and that, from henceforth forever, they declared themselves the vassals of your Majesty, and all, and each for himself, would there promise, to do and fulfill all that was commanded in the name of your Majesty as became good and loyal vassals; and to aid with tribute and services as they had heretofore done for Moctezuma, and as was their duty together with whatever else might be required of them in the name of your Majesty. All this passed in the presence of a public notary, and was confirmed by a formal act; as well as by the testimony of many of our countrymen whom I requested to be present.