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, 58–59.

At ten o’clock on the following day, Xicotencatl, Captain General of this Province, with about fifty of the principal persons belonging to it, came to me and solicited on the part of himself and of Magiscatzin [Governor of the Republic of Tlaxcala], who is the most important personage of the whole province, and on behalf of many other caciques or chiefs, that I would admit them into the royal service of your Highness, and to my friendship, and would pardon their past errors, as they had not known us, nor understood who we were; adding that they had already exerted their utmost strength, both by day and night, to avoid becoming subject to any power whatever; for at no period had this province ever been so, nor did it now own, nor had it at any former time acknowledged, a master; that they had lived free and unrestrained from time immemorial to the present moment; that they had always successfully defended themselves against at power of Moctezuma, and his father and ancestors, who had subjected the whole earth, but had never been able to reduce them to subjection, although they had hemmed them in on all sides, so that there was no passage left for them out of their own territory; that they were deprived of the use of salt, because it was not produced in any part of their country, nor were they able to go and procure it elsewhere; and for the same reason they were destitute of cotton cloth, as the cotton ant does not grow with them on account of the coldness of the climate, as well as of many other things of which they were in want, by reason of their being confined within such narrow limits. Nevertheless, they preferred to suffer these privations, and considered it better for them, in order to enjoy their freedom and be subject to no one; and that in regard to myself, their feelings were the same; but that as they had already declared, they had tried their strength, and saw clearly that neither the force nor the skill that they had been able to command, profited them any thing, and they now sought to become the subjects of your Highness rather than perish and doom to destruction their houses, their women, and their children. I satisfied them by saying, that they well knew the losses they had sustained were entirely owing to themselves; that I bad entered their territory in the belief that I was coming among friends, for the Cempoallans had assured me they were so, and wished to be so; and that I had sent in advance my messengers to inform them that I was coming, and of the pleasure their friendship would afford me; and that without returning me any answer while I was approaching with apparent security, they had attacked me on the road, killed two of my horses, and wounded others; and moreover, after fighting with me they had sent messengers, saying, that what had taken, place was contrary to their wishes and consent, certain communities having made the movement without their participation, but that they had reproved them for it, and desired my friendship. Believing this to be true, I had told them that it gave me pleasure, and that on the next day I would visit them in their abodes as friends; and yet they had attacked me while and fought against me the whole day until on the way, the approach of night, notwithstanding I had earnestly desired peace. I also- reminded them of all they had done to oppose my progress, and many other matters, which I omit to mention that I may not weary your Highness. Finally, they remained, and acknowledged themselves as subjects and vassals of your Majesty, offering their persons and their estates for your royal service. This they carried into effect, and have remained faithful to the present time; and I believe they will always continue so, as your Majesty will hereafter see.