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, 48–49.

Here came to meet me two other caciques, whose lands were in the same valley, the one four leagues below, and the other two leagues above. They gave me several chains of gold of small weight and value and seven or eight slaves. Leaving them very well satisfied, I set off, after having remained there four or five days, and arrived at the residence of the cacique mentioned as being two leagues distant in the upper part of the valley; it is called Yztecmastitán. The domains of this man are covered with inhabitants for three or four leagues without interruption, and are situated along, the level ground of the valley on the banks of a small river that flows through it. His residence stands on a lofty eminence, protected by a larger fortress than is found in half of Spain, which is well defended by walls, barbacans and moats; on the summit of this high ground there is a population of five or six thousand, dwelling in good houses, and a somewhat richer people than those who inhabit the valley below. Here, likewise, I was well received, and the cacique told me that he was a vassal of Moctezuma. I remained here three days, as well to recruit from the effects of our journey through the desert country, as to wait for four messengers, natives of Cempoala, that had accompanied me, whom I had sent from Caltanmi to a very extensive province called Tlaxcala, which they informed me was near this place, as it proved to be. I had also been informed by them that the natives of this province were their allies, but deadly enemies of Moctezuma; and they desired me to form an alliance with them, because they were a numerous and powerful nation. Their country, they also added, bordered upon that of Moctezuma throughout its whole extent, with whom they were constantly at war; and it was thought they would be pleased with me, and take my part in case Moctezuma should endeavor to get the advantage of me. The messengers did not return during the eight days that I remained in the valley, and I asked some other Cempoallans who accompanied me why they did not return? They answered that the place must be very far off, and that they could not get back yet on account of the distance. Seeing that they did not arrive, and being assured by several leading Cempoallans of the friendship and protection of the people of’ that province, I resolved to set out on my way thither.

On leaving the valley, I met with a large wall of dry stone about nine feet in height, which extended across the valley from one mountain to the other; it was twenty feet in thickness and surmounted throughout its whole extent by a breastwork a foot and a half thick, to enable them to fight from the top of the wall.