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, third letter, 331–32.

In the mean time, the brigantines suddenly entered that part of the lake, and broke through the midst of the fleet of canoes, the warriors who were in them not daring to make any resistance. It pleased God, that the captain of a brigantine, named Garci Holguin came up behind a canoe in which there seemed to be persons of distinction; and when the archers who were stationed in the bow of the brigantine took aim at those in the canoe, they made a signal that the cacique was there, that the men might not discharge their arrows; instantly our people leaped into the canoe, and seized in it Cuauhtémoc, and the lord of Tacuba, together with other distinguished persons that accompanied the cacique. Immediately after this occurrence, Garci Holguin, the captain, delivered to me on a terrace adjoining the lake, where I was standing, the cacique of the city with other noble prisoners; who, as I bade him sit down, without showing any asperity of manner, came up to me, and said in his own tongue, “That he had done all that was incumbent on him in defense of himself and his people, until he was reduced to his present condition; that now I might do with him as I pleased.” He then laid his hand on a poniard [dagger] that I wore, telling me to strike him to the heart. I spoke encouragingly to him, and bade him have no fears. Thus the cacique being taken a prisoner, the war ceased at this point, which it pleased God our Lord to bring to a conclusion on Tuesday, Saint Hippolytus’ day, the thirteenth of August 1521. So that from the day when the city was first invested, the 30th of April in that year, until it was taken, seventy-five days had elapsed; during which time your Majesty will see what labors, dangers, and calamities your subjects endured; and their deeds afford the best evidence how much they exposed their lives.