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DEATH OF MONTEZUMA
from The True History of the Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Dxaz del Castillo, 1517-21

 

Let us go back to our story. It was decided to sue for peace so that we could leave Mexico, and as soon as it was dawn many more squadrons of Mexicans arrived and very effectually surrounded our quarters on all sides, and if they had discharged many stones and arrows before, they came much thicker and with louder howls and whistles on this day, and other squadrons endeavored to force an entrance in other parts, and cannon and muskets availed nothing, although we did them damage enough.

When Cortxs saw all this, he decided that the great Montezuma should speak to them from the roof and tell them that the war must cease, and that we wished to leave his city. When they went to give this message from Cortxs to the great Montezuma, it is reported that he said with great grief: "What more does Malinche want from me? I neither wish to live nor to listen to him, to such a pass has my fate brought me because of him." And he did not wish to come, and it is even reported that he said he neither wished to see nor hear him, nor listen to his false words, promises or lies. Then the Padre de la Merced and Cristxbal de Olid went and spoke to him with much reverence and in very affectionate terms, and Montezuma said: "I believe that I shall not obtain any result toward ending this war, for they have already raised up another lord and have made up their minds not to let you leave this place alive, therefore I believe that all of you will have to die."

Let us return to the attack they made on us. Montezuma was placed by a battlement of the roof with many of us soldiers guarding him, and he began to speak to his people with very affectionate expressions telling them to desist from the war, and that we would leave Mexico. Manv of the Mexican chieftains and captains knew him well and at once ordered their people to be silent and not to discharge darts, stones or arrows, and four of them reached a spot where Montezuma could speak to them, and they to him, and with tears they said to him: "Oh! Sexor, and our great Lord, how all your misfortune and injury and that of your children and relations afflicts us; we make known to you that we have already raised one of your kinsmen to be our Lord"; and there he stated his name, that he was called Cuitlahuac, the Lord of Ixtapalapa, and moreover they said that the war must be carried through, and that they had vowed to their idols not to relax it until we were all dead...

They had hardly finished this speech when suddenly such a shower of stones and darts were discharged that (our men who were shielding him having neglected for a moment their duty, because they saw how the attack ceased while he spoke to them) he was hit by three stones, one on the head, another on the arm and another on the leg, and although they begged him to have the wounds dressed and to take food, and spoke kind words to him about it, he would not. Indeed, when we least expected it, they came to say that he was dead. Cortxs wept for him, and all of us captains and soldiers, and there was no man among us who knew him and was intimate with him, who did not bemoan him as though he were our father, and it is not to be wondered at, consxdering how good he was. It was stated that he had reigned for seventeen years and that he was the best king there had ever been in Mexico, and that he had conquered in person, in three wars which he had carried on in the countries he had subjugated.