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 Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Historia Verdadera, Volume 1, Chapter 36

Cortés also asked them [the Tabascans] where they procured their gold and small jewels. “From the direction of the setting sun,” they replied, and said “Culua ” and “Mexico,” [Tenochtitland]. And as we did not know what Mexico and Culua meant we paid little attention to it.

And we had another interpreter, Francisco, (awhile ago I named him) whom we had captured during Grijalva’s expedition, who has already been mentioned by me, but he [the person to whom Cortés was speaking] could not understand the Tabasco language only that of Culua which is the Mexican tongue and by using signs he told Cortés that Culua was far ahead, and he repeated “Mexico,” which we did not understand.

So the talk ceased until the next day when the sacred image of Our Lady and the Cross were set up on the altar and we all paid reverence to them, and Padre Fray Bartolomé de Olmedo said mass and all the Caciques and chiefs were present and we gave the name of Santa Maria de la Victoria to the town, and by this name the town of Tabasco is now called. The same friar, with Aguilar as interpreter, preached many good things about our holy faith to the twenty Indians [women], who had been given us, telling them not to believe in the Idols, which they had been trusted in, for they were evil things and not gods, and that they should offer no more sacrifices to them for they would lead them astray, but that they should worship our Lord Jesus Christ. Afterwards they were baptized, and the name Doña Marina was given to one Indian woman, who was given to us and who truly was a great Cacique and the daughter of great Caciques and the mistress of vassals, as one could see from how she looked. I will tell you below about the manner in which she was brought here.

What the other women were named, I do not know, cannot remember all the names, and it isn’t important to name any of them, but they were the first women to become Christians in New Spain.

Cortés allotted one of them to each of his captains and Doña Marina, as she was pretty, engaging, and hardy, he gave to Alonzo Hernández Puertocarrero, who I have already said, was a distinguished gentleman and a cousin of the Count of Medellin. And after Puertocarrero went to Spain, Doña Marina lived with Cortés and bore him a son named Don Martin Cortés, who in the future became the Commander of Santiago.

We remained five days in this town, to look after the wounded and those who were suffering from pain in the loins, from which they all recovered. Furthermore, Cortés drew the Caciques to him by speaking to them kindly, and told them how our master the Emperor, whose vassals we were, had under his orders many great lords, and that it would be best for them also to render him obedience, and that then, whatever they might be in need of, whether it was our protection or any other necessity, if they would make it known to him, no matter where he might be, he would come to their aid.

The Caciques all thanked him for this, and thereupon all declared themselves the vassals of our great Emperor. These were the first vassals to render submission to His Majesty in New Spain.