The General History of Spain

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General History of the Things of New Spain

Bernardino de Sahagún

And after the dying in Cholula,[1] the Spaniards set off on their way to Mexico,[2]

coming gathered and bunched, raising dust....

Thereupon Moteucçoma[3] named and sent noblemen and a great many other agents

of his...to go meet [Cortés]...at Quauhtechcac. They gave [the Spaniards] golden

banners of precious feathers, and golden necklaces.

And when they had given the things to them, they seemed to smile, to rejoice and to

be very happy. Like monkeys they grabbed the gold. It was as though their hearts

were put to rest, brightened, freshened. For gold was what they greatly thirsted for;

they were gluttonous for it, starved for it, piggishly wanting it. They came lifting up

the golden banners, waving them from side to side, showing them to each other.

They seemed to babble; what they said to each other was in a babbling tongue....

Another group of messengers—rainmakers, witches, and priests—had also gone out

for an encounter, but nowhere were they able to do anything or to get sight of [the

Spaniards]; they did not hit their target, they did not find the people they were

looking for, they were not sufficient....

Cortés and his entourage continue their march.

Then they set out in this direction, about to enter Mexico here. Then they all dressed

and equipped themselves for war. They girded themselves, tying their battle gear

tightly on themselves and then on their horses. Then they arranged themselves in

rows, files, ranks.

Four horsemen came ahead going first, staying ahead, leading....

Also the dogs, their dogs, came ahead, sniffing at things and constantly panting.[4]

By himself came marching ahead, all alone, the one who bore the standard on his

shoulder. He came waving it about, making it spin, tossing it here and there....

Following him came those with iron swords. Their iron swords came bare and

gleaming. On their shoulders they bore their shields, of wood or leather.

The second contingent and file were horses carrying people, each with his cotton

cuirass,[5] his leather shield, his iron lance, and his iron sword hanging down from

the horse’s neck. They came with bells on, jingling or rattling. The horses, the

deer,[6] neighed, there was much neighing, and they would sweat a great deal; water

seemed to fall from them. And their flecks of foam splatted on the ground, like

soapsuds splatting....

The third file were those with iron crossbows, the crossbowmen. Their quivers went

hanging at their sides, passed under their armpits, well filled, packed with arrows,

with iron bolts....

The fourth file were likewise horsemen; their outfits were the same as has been said.

The fifth group were those with harquebuses,[7] the harquebusiers, shouldering their

harquebuses; some held them [level]. And when they went into the great palace, the

residence of the ruler, they repeatedly shot off their harquebuses. They exploded,

sputtered, discharged, thundered, disgorged. Smoke spread, it grew dark with smoke,

everyplace filled with smoke. The fetid smell made people dizzy and faint.

Then all those from the various altepetl[8] on the other side of the mountains, the

Tlaxcalans, the people of Tliliuhquitepec, of Huexotzinco, came following behind.

They came outfitted for war with their cotton upper armor, shields, and bows, their

quivers full and packed with feathered arrows, some barbed, some blunted, some

1/6/2010 http://college.cengage.com/history/pri…

…cengage.com/…/history_new_spain.h… 1/5quivers full and packed with feathered arrows, some barbed, some blunted, some

with obsidian[9] points. They went crouching, hitting their mouths with their hands

yelling, singing,...whistling, shaking their heads....

Cortés and his army entered Tenochtitlán in November 1519 and were amicably received by Moctezuma,

who was nonetheless...
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