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, 73–75.

I spoke to the envoys of Moctezuma who were with me concerning the treachery that had been practiced in Cholula. and said I had been informed by the leaders that it was done through the advice of Moctezuma; but that it did not appear to me it could have been the act of so great a sovereign as he was, to send his messengers and noble persons to me, declaring that he was my friend, as he had done, and at the same time seeking means to attack me through others, in order that he might avoid censure in case the design did not succeed. But since it was so, and he did not keep his word, nor adhere to the truth, I told them I should change my own purpose; that until then it had been my intention to visit his country as a friend, to see and talk with him, and hold much peaceful intercourse with him; but that now I should enter his dominions in the guise of war, doing all the injury that was in my power, as an enemy; that I was sorry to adopt this course, as I preferred to have his friendship, and to take counsel of him in whatever I had to do in this land. The envoys replied, that they had now been with me a long time, and that they had known nothing of any such understanding with the Cholulans, more than had been declared in that city since its submission, and they could not believe that it had taken place by the advice or command of Moctezuma; and they entreated that before I renounced his friendship and made war upon him, I would inform myself of the truth, and suffer one of their number to go and confer with him, as he could return very soon, the distance from this city to where Moctezuma resides being but twenty leagues. I told them that this would be agreeable to me, and I allowed one of them to go, who returned from thence in six days, accompanied by the other envoy who had gone previously. They brought me ten pieces of gold plate, fifteen hundred pieces of cotton cloth, a great number of fowls, and a beverage, in common use among them, which is called panicap; and they informed me that Moctezuma had been much troubled on account of what had occurred at Cholula, but that I must not believe it had been done by his advice or command, as he would prove to me with certainty that it was not so; that the troops in the garrison near the city were, indeed, his, but that they had moved without his orders, at the instigation of the Cholulans, since there were two of his provinces bordering upon Cholula, that had an alliance with that state on account of their proximity to it to aid one another; one of them was called Acancigo, and the other lzcucan, (Acazinao and Izucar,] and that in this way they had gone there, and riot by his orders; that I should see by his actions whether what he had sent to communicate to me was true or not; but nevertheless, that he begged me not to trouble myself to visit his country, as it was a barren region, and the people were in a suffering condition and that he would send to me, wherever I was, to ascertain my wants, which he would supply in the most-bountiful manner. I answered that I could not dispense with visiting his dominions, as I was obliged to transmit an account of them, as well as of himself, to your Majesty; that I fully believed what he had stated, by his envoys; nevertheless, since I should not relinquish my purpose of seeing him, that it would be better it should be done in a friendly manner, and that no obstacles be thrown in my way, as otherwise it would be attended with injury to himself, and I should much regret any such occurrence. As soon as be saw that it was my determined desire to visit him and his country, he sent to say that it was well; that he should expect me in the great city where he was, and that several of his people would join me, as soon as I had entered his territory. These persons, desired me to take a certain route, on which they might contrive to have an attack made upon me, as it afterwards appeared; since a number of Spaniards whom I afterwards sent through the country saw how it was; I should have found on that route so many bridges and difficult passes, that as I went through it they would have been able to execute their designs with safety to themselves. But as God has ever seen fit to guide your sacred Majesty from your infancy in the right way, and as I and those who accompanied me, were engaged in the royal service, another route was pointed out to us, somewhat rough, indeed, but not so dangerous as the other, and this I took.