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 El Lienza de Tlaxcala (Tlaxcalan)


There is a lot going on in this image. As a consequence of the fighting that broke out after Pedro de Alvarado and other Spaniards massacred many Mexicas while they were celebrating, the Spaniards with Malinche and Tlaxcalans are trapped in their headquarters. They will have to fight their way out and suffer an enormous defeat when they do so. Note the representation of the cannon, which is aimed at nothing, symbolizing its failure in these circumstances. Also note the Mexicas fighting in animal skins, a feature in many images featuring combat.

Step One

Make some observations about what is included in the image.

  • Who can you identify?
  • Where are they located in the image?
  • How are they dressed?
  • What kind of military action do you see?
  • What is the center of this image?

Step Two

Ask yourself some questions about what you see in the image.

  • What is the story being told in this image?
  • What are the similarities between this story and what you just read on the previous page?
  • What are the differences between this story and what you just read?
  • How do you account for the differences in the various stories?

Step Three

Write your own interpretation of what you think happened during the conflict that developed after the massacre at the festival based on the evidence.