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 Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, The Florentine Codex, Book 12, Chapter 40 (Mexica)

Here it is told how the men of Tlatilulco and Tenochtitlan surrendered to the Spaniards and what happened when they were among them.

And when they had gotten him [Cuauhtémoc] there and when he was on land, all the Spaniards came to see. They came to take him. The Spaniards grasped him by the hand, took him up to the roof and put him in front of the Captain [Cortés], the war leader. And when they had proceeded to stand him before [Cortés], they looked at Cuauhtémoc, stroked his hair, then seated him next to the Captain.

[Then] they fired the cannons; they hit no one, but they aimed over the [common] people, the [shots] just went over the heads of the Indians. Then they brought out a cannon, put it in a boat, and took it to the home of Coyohuehuetzin. When they arrived, they took it up on the roof. Then again they killed people, many died there. But [the Mexicas] only fled, and the war came to an end.

Then there was shouting; they said: “It is enough! Let everyone leave! Eat greens!” And when they heard this, the people left; they went into the water. But when they went out by the roads, again they [the Mexicas] killed some people, which made the Spaniards angry.

A few of them carried their shields and obsidian-bladed swords. Those who lived in houses went straight to Amaxac, where the road forks. There, the people divided, some going toward Tepeyacac, some toward Xoxohuiltitlan, some toward Nonoalco. But no one went toward Xoloco and Mazatzintamalco.

And all who lived in boats and on platforms [in the water] and those at Tolmayecan went into the water. The water came to the stomachs of some, to the chests of others, to the necks of others, and some sank entirely into the deep water.

The little children were carried on people’s backs. Weeping was everywhere, but some rejoiced and amused themselves as they went along the road. And those who owned boats, all boatmen, left by night; though some left by day. They seemed to knock against one another [as they fled].

For their part, the Spaniards along every stretch of the road robbed people. They looked for gold; they cared nothing for green-stone [jade?], quetzal feathers, or turquoise. [They looked for it everywhere]–in poor women’s bosoms, in their skirts; in the breech cloths of men, and in their mouths.

And [the Spaniards] seized and picked out beautiful women–those with light bodies, the fair [skinned] ones. And some women, when they were [to be] raped, covered their faces with mud and put on old blouses and skirts, clothing themselves in rags.

And also some men were singled out–those who were strong, grown to manhood, and next the young boys. [They] would become their messengers, their servants, their runners. On some they branded their cheeks. On some they marked the cheek or mouth.

And when the shield was laid down, when we collapsed, it was the year count Three House and the day count was One Serpent.