BLTC Press Titles

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The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

History of the conquest of Mexico

by William Hickling Prescott


The city of Tezcuco was the best position, probably, which Cortes could have chosen for the headquarters of the army. It supplied all the accommodations for lodging a numerous body of troops, and all the facilities for subsistence, incident to a large and populous town.1 It furnished, moreover, a multitude of artisans and laborers for the uses of the army. Its territories, bordering on the Tlascalan, afforded a ready means of intercourse with the country of his

1 " Asi mismo hizo juntar todos los bastimentos que fueron necesarios para sustentar el Exército y Guarniciones de Gente que andaban en favor de Cortés, y asi hizo traer á la Ciudad de Tezcuco el Maiz que habia en las Troxes y Graneros de las Provincias sugetas al Reyno de Tezcuco." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. 91.

allies; while its vicinity to Mexico enabled the general, without much difficulty, to ascertain the movements in that capital. Its central situation, in short, opened facilities for communication with all parts of the Valley, and made it an excellent point d'appui for his future operations.

The first care of Cortes was to strengthen himself in the palace assigned to him, and to place his quarters in a state of defence which might secure them against surprise not only from the Mexicans, but from the Tezcucans themselves.. Since the election of their new ruler, a large part of the population had returned to their homes, assured of protection in person and property. But the Spanish general, notwithstanding their show of submission, very much distrusted its sincerity; for he knew that many of them were united too intimately with the Aztecs, by marriage and other social relations, not to have their sympathies engaged in their behalf." The young monarch, however, seemed wholly in his interests; and, to secure him more effectually, Cortes placed several Spaniards near his person, whose ostensible province it was to instruct him in their language and religion, but who were in reality to watch over his conduct and prevent his correspondence with those who might be unfriendly to the Spanish interests.3

Tezcuco stood about half a league from the lake. It would be necessary to open a communication with

* " No era de espantar que tuviese este recelo, porque sus Enemigos, y los de esta Ciudad eran todos Deudos y Parientes mas cercanos, mas despues el tiempo lo desengafi6, y vido la gran lealtad de Ixtlilxochitl, y de todos." Ixtlilxochitl, Hist. Chich., MS., cap. g2.

i Bemal Diaz, Hist, de la Conquista, cap. 137.

it, so that the brigantines, when put together in the capital, might be launched upon its waters. It was proposed, therefore, to dig a canal, reaching from the gardens of Nezahualcoyotl, as they were called, from the old monarch who planned them, to the edge of the basin. A little stream, or rivulet, which flowed in that direction, was to be deepened sufficiently for the purpose; and eight thousand Indian laborers were forthwith employed on this great work, under the direction of the young Ixtlilxochitl.4

Meanwhile, Cortes received messages from several places in the neighborhood, intimating their desire to become the vassals of his sovereign and to be taken under his protection. The Spanish commander required, in return, that they should deliver up every Mexican who should set foot in their territories. Some noble Aztecs, who had been sent on a mission to these towns, were consequently delivered into his hands. He availed himself of it to employ them as bearers 01 a message to their master the emperor. In it he deprecated the necessity of the present hostilities. Those who had most injured him, he said, were no longer among the living. He was willing to forget the past, and invited the Mexicans, by a timely submission, to save their capital from the horrors of a siege.5 Cortes had no expectation of producing any immediate result by this appeal. But he thought it might lie in the

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