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 84

But as we saw that the Great Moctezuma was secretly sending spies to our camp to enquire and find out what our plans were and if we intended to go on to his city, our Captain determined to take counsel of certain captains and soldiers, whom he knew to be well disposed towards him, because he never did anything without first asking our advice about it. It was agreed that we should send a messenger to tell the Great Moctezuma, gently and amicably, that in order to carry out the purpose for which our Lord and King had sent us to these parts, we had crossed many seas and foreign lands, and that while we were marching towards his city, his ambassadors had guided us by way of Cholula, where they said the people were his vassals, and for the first two days after our arrival the people treated us very well, but on the next day they had plotted a treason with the intention of killing us; and as we are men of such character that it would be impossible to hide any matter of double dealing, or treachery, or iniquity, which they might wish to enact against us without our knowing of it at once, for this reason we punished some of those who intended to carry out the plot. As he [Cortés] knew that they were his [Moctezuma’s] subjects, out of respect for his person, and on account of our great friendship, he refrained from destroying and killing all those who were concerned in the treason. However, the worst of it all is that the priests and Caciques say it was on his advice and command, and that of his ambassadors, that they intended to do it. This of course we never believed, that such a great prince as he is could issue such orders, especially as he had declared himself our friend, and we had inferred from his character that since his Idols had put such an evil thought as making war on us into his head, he would surely fight us in the open field; however, whether he fought in the open or in a town, by day or by night, we would kill those who thought of doing such a thing. But as we look upon him as our great friend and wish to see and speak to him, we are setting out at once for his city to give him a more complete account of what Our Lord the King had commanded us to do.

When Moctezuma heard this message and learned through the people of Cholula that we did not lay all the blame on him, we heard it said that he returned again with his priests to fast and make sacrifices to his Idols, to know if they would again repeat their permission to allow us to enter into the city or not, and whether they would reiterate the commands they had already given him. The answer which they gave was the same as the first, that he should allow us to enter and that once inside the city he could kill us when he chose.