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 2, Chapter 78

As our captain and all of us had already heard everything that these Caciques were telling us, we changed the subject, and engaged them on another, more profound, topic, which was, how was it that they came to inhabit that land, and from what direction had they come? and how was it that they differed so much from and were so hostile to the Mexicas, seeing that their countries were so close to one another.

They answered that their ancestors had told them that in times past there had lived among them men and women of giant size with huge bones, and because they were very bad people with evil habits that they had fought with them and killed them, and those of them who remained died off. So that we could see how huge and tall these people had been, they brought us a leg bone of one of them which was very thick and the height of a man of ordinary stature, and that was the bone from the hip to the knee. I measured myself against it and it was as tall as I am although I am of fair size. They brought other pieces of bones like the first, but they were already eaten away and destroyed by the soil. We were all amazed at seeing those bones and felt sure that there must have been giants in this country, and our Captain Cortés said to us that it would be good to send that great bone to Castille so that His Majesty might see it, so we sent it with the first of our agents who went there.

These Caciques also told us that they had learned from their forefathers that one of their Idols, to which they paid the greatest devotion, had told them that men would come from distant lands in the direction of the rising sun [the East from which the Spaniards had arrived] to subjugate them and govern them, and that if we were those men, they were rejoiced at it, as we were so good and brave, and that when they made peace with us they had kept in mind what their Idols had said, and for this reason they had given us their daughters so as to obtain relations who would defend them against the Mexicas.

When they had finished their discourse we were all astounded and said, can they possibly have spoken the truth? Then our Captain Cortés replied to them and said that assuredly we came from the direction of the sunrise, and that our Lord the King had sent us for this very purpose that we should become as brothers to them. . . .