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)


This image shows fierce fighting with bloody and severed arms and heads, symbols of defeat. Note power of horses in fighting in these situations. Cortés considered the horses to be among his most valuable assets and frequently expressed more sorrow about losing a horse than he did about losing men. Contrary to many myths, the Mexicas and other indigenous people knew the horses were animals and did everything they could to kill or disable them.

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 about the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weapons under different conditions based on the evidence.