The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2) - Written by Himself Containing a True and Full Account of - the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain.
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The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2) - Written by Himself Containing a True and Full Account of - the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2), by Bernal Diaz del Castillo This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2) Written by Himself Containing a True and Full Account of the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain. Author: Bernal Diaz del Castillo Translator: John Ingram Lockhart Release Date: May 21, 2010 [EBook #32474] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, 1 OF 2 *** Produced by Julia Miller, Jane Hyland and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries) [Pg i] THE MEMOIRS OF THE CONQUISTADOR BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO WRITTEN BY HIMSELF CONTAINING A TRUE AND FULL ACCOUNT OF THE DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF MEXICO AND NEW SPAIN TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL SPANISH BY JOHN INGRAM LOCKHART, F.R.A.S. AUTHOR OF "ATTICA AND ATHENS" IN TWO VOLUMES VOL. I. LONDON J. HATCHARD AND SON, 187, PICCADILLY MDCCCXLIV. C. AND J. ADLARD, PRINTERS, BATHOLOMEW CLOSE. [Pg ii] [Pg iii] TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz
del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2), by Bernal Diaz del Castillo
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2)
Written by Himself Containing a True and Full Account of
the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain.
Author: Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Translator: John Ingram Lockhart
Release Date: May 21, 2010 [EBook #32474]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, 1 OF 2 ***
Produced by Julia Miller, Jane Hyland and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)
[Pg i]
THE MEMOIRS
OF THE
CONQUISTADOR BERNAL DIAZ
DEL CASTILLO
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
CONTAINING A TRUE AND FULL ACCOUNT
OF THE
DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST
OFMEXICO AND NEW SPAIN
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL SPANISH BY
JOHN INGRAM LOCKHART, F.R.A.S.
AUTHOR OF "ATTICA AND ATHENS"
IN TWO VOLUMES
VOL. I.
LONDON
J. HATCHARD AND SON, 187, PICCADILLY
MDCCCXLIV.
C. AND J. ADLARD, PRINTERS, BATHOLOMEW CLOSE. [Pg ii]
[Pg iii]
TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.
The History of the Conquest of New Spain is a subject in which great interest is
felt at the present day, and the English public will hail these memoirs, which
contain the only true and complete account of that important transaction.
The author of this original and charming production, to which he justly gives the
title of 'The True History of the Conquest of New Spain,' was himself one of the
Conquistadores; one who not only witnessed the transactions which he relates,
but who also performed a glorious part in them; a soldier who, for impartiality
and veracity, perhaps never had his equal. His account is acknowledged to be
the only one on which we can place reliance, and it has been the magazine
from which the most eloquent of the Spanish writers on the same subject, as
well as those of other countries, have borrowed their best materials. Some
historians have even transcribed whole pages, but have not had sufficient
honesty to acknowledge it.
The author, while living, was never rewarded for the great services he had
rendered his country, and it is remarkable that, after his death, his very memoirs
were pillaged by court historians, to raise a literary monument to themselves.
Most of the other writers on the conquest, particularly the Spanish, have filled
their works with exaggerations, to create astonishment and false interest; pages
are filled with so termed philosophical remarks, which but ill supply the place of
the intelligent reader's own reflections. Bernal Diaz differs widely from those
[Pg iv]writers, for he only states what he knows to be true. The British public, fond
above all others of original productions, will peruse with interest and delight awork which has so long been the secret fountain from which all other accounts
of the conquest, with the exception of those which are least faithful, have taken
life.
In respect of its originality, it may vie with any work of modern times, not
excepting 'Don Quixote.' The author seems to have been born to show forth
truth in all its beauty, and he raises it to a divinity in his mind. Can anything be
more expressive of an honest conscience than what he says in his own
preface: "You have only to read my history, and you see it is true."
The reader may form a general idea of this work from the following critique,
which Dr. Robertson, the historian, passes upon it: "Bernal Diaz's account
bears all the marks of authenticity, and is accompanied with such pleasant
naïveté, with such interesting details, with such amusing vanity, and yet so
pardonable in an old soldier, who had been, as he boasts, in a hundred and
nineteen battles, as renders his book one of the most singular that is to be
found in any language."
One circumstance, and that very justly, he is most anxious to impress on your
mind, namely, that all the merit of the conquest is not due to Cortes alone; for
which reason he generally uses the expression "Cortes and all of us."
This is an allowable feeling in our old soldier, and it must be remembered that
the greater part of the men who joined Cortes were of good families, who, as
usual on such expeditions, equipped themselves at their own expense, and
went out as adventurers of their own free choice.
With respect to our author's style of writing, it is chiefly characterized by
plainness and simplicity, and yet there are numerous passages which are
written with great force and eloquence, and which, as the Spanish editor says,
"could not have been more forcibly expressed, nor with greater elegance."
Some readers may at first feel inclined to censure our author for going into
minute particulars in describing the fitting out of the expedition under Cortes; for
instance, his describing the qualities and colours of the horses; but all this, it
will be seen, was of the utmost importance to his history, and of the horses he
was bound to take special notice, for they performed a conspicuous part in the
[Pg v]conquest. The honest old soldier even devotes a couple of his last chapters to
the whole of his companions in arms, in which he mentions them all by name,
describes their persons, their bravery, and the manner in which they died.
To conclude these few remarks on this work, I must observe, that it not only
surpasses Cortes' despatches in completeness, but also in truth and naïveté.
He represents the whole to you with a simplicity truly sublime; at times he
astonishes with a power of expressing his sentiments peculiar to himself, and
with a pathos that goes to the very heart.
Bernal Diaz was of a respectable family, and born in Medina del Campo, a
small town in the province of Leon. He was what in Spain is termed an hidalgo
—though by this little more was signified than a descent from Christian
forefathers, without any mixture of Jewish or Moorish blood. With respect to the
precise year of his birth he has left us in the dark, but, according to his own
account, he first left Castile, for the New World, in the year 1514; and as, on his
first arrival in Mexico, in the year 1519, he still calls himself a young man, we
may safely conclude that he was born between 1495 and 1500. In the year
1568 he completed his work, at which time there were only six of the
Conquistadores alive, and he must then have been about seventy years of age,
but there is every reason for supposing that he reached the advanced age of
eighty-six. Endowed with singular nobleness of mind, he had the happiness to
enjoy an unblemished reputation.The excellent Torquemada, in speaking of him in his voluminous work entitled
'Monarchia Indiana,' says, "I saw and knew this same Bernal Diaz in the city of
Guatimala; he was then a very aged man, and one who bore the best of
reputations." Quoting him in another passage, he has, "Thus says Bernal Diaz
del Castillo, a soldier on whose authority and honesty we can place reliance."
He was a man devoted to his religion, and it must be particularly borne in mind
that the Catholic faith was never stronger than at that time; yet we find him the
least superstitious of all the Spanish historians on the Conquest, and, in the
34th Chapter, he has shown a mind superior to the times in which he lived.
If we contemplate the period in which the conquest of New Spain took place,
[Pg vi]we can easily imagine that Cortes considered it imperative on him to plant his
religion among the Indians by the power of the sword, if he could not by kind
remonstrances; and we are often reminded of Joshua in the Old Testament.
The Spaniards themselves certainly entertained that idea; for in the edition of
Cortes' despatches published at Mexico in 1770, his sword is termed, "Gladius
Domini et Gideonis:" yet the Spaniards were not the cruel monsters they have
generally been described during those times. As far as the conquest of New
Spain is concerned, they were more humane than otherwise; and if at times
they used severity, we find that it was caused by the horrible and revolting
abominations which were practised by the natives. We can scarcely imagine
kinder-hearted beings than the first priests and monks who went out to New
Spain; they were men who spent their lives under every species of hardship to
promote the happiness of the Indians. Who can picture to his mind a more
amiable and noble disposition than that of father Olmedo? He was one of the
finest characters, Dr. Robertson says, that ever went out as priest with an
invading army!
We may have become exceedingly partial to a work which has now been
constantly before our eyes for the last two years, yet we can scarcely imagine
that any one could take up a volume, whether a novel or a history, which he
would peruse with more delight than these memoirs.
With regard to the translation, which is from the old edition printed at Madrid in
1632, we have acted up to the author's desire, and have neither added nor
taken anything away, and have attempted to follow the original as closely as
possible. To the original there is not a single note, and particular care has been
taken not to overburden the translation with them. In the spelling of the names
of the Indian chiefs, the townships, and of the provinces, we have mostly
followed Torquemada, who is considered more correct on this point, for he lived
fifty years in New Spain, was perfect master of the Mexican language, and
[Pg vii]made the history of that country his peculiar study.
AUTHOR'S PREFACE.
I, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, regidor of the town of Santiago, in Guatimala, author
of this very true and faithful history, have now finished it, in order that it may be
published to the world. It treats of the discovery and total conquest of New
Spain; and how the great city of Mexico and several other towns were taken, up
to the time when peace was concluded with the whole country; also of the
founding of many Spanish cities and towns, by which we, as we were in duty
bound, extended the dominion of our sovereign.
In this history will be found many curious facts worthy of notice. It likewisepoints out the errors and blunders contained in a work written by Francisco de
Gomara, who not only commits many errors himself in what he writes about
New Spain, but he has also been the means of leading those two famous
historians astray who followed his account, namely, Dr. Illescas and the bishop
Paulo Jovio. What I have written in this book I declare and affirm to be strictly
true. I myself was present at every battle and hostile encounter. Indeed, these
are not old tales or romances of the seventh century; for, if I may so say, it
happened but yesterday what is contained in my history. I relate how, where,
and in what manner these things took place; as an accredited eyewitness of
this I may mention our very spirited and valorous captain Don Hernando
Cortes, marquis del Valle Oaxaca, who wrote an account of these occurrences
[Pg viii]from Mexico to his imperial majesty Don Carlos the Fifth, of glorious memory;
and likewise the corresponding account of the viceroy Don Antonio de
Mendoza. But, besides this, you have only to read my history and you see it is
true.
I have now completed it this 26th day of February, 1568, from my day-book and
memory, in this very loyal city of Guatimala, the seat of the royal court of
audience. I also think of mentioning some other circumstances which are for the
most part unknown to the public. I must beg of the printers not to take away
[Pg ix]from, nor add one single syllable to, the following narrative, etc.
CONTENTS
OF
THE FIRST VOLUME.
The time of my departure from Castile, and
Chap. I. 1
what farther happened to me
Of the discovery of Yucatan, and the battle weChap. II. 3
fought there with the natives
Chap. III. Discovery of the coast of Campeachy 6
How we landed in a bay close to some maise
Chap. IV. plantations, near the harbour of Potonchan, 9
and of the attack that was made upon us there
We resolve to return to Cuba. The extreme
thirst we suffered, and all the fatigues we
Chap. V. 12
underwent until our arrival in the port of
Havannah
How twenty of us went on shore in the bay of
Florida with the pilot Alaminos in search of
water; the hostilities which the natives of this
Chap. VI. 13
country commenced with us; and of all that
further befel us on our passage to the
Havannah
The fatigues I had to undergo until my arrival
Chap. VII. 17
in the town of Trinidad
How Diego Velasquez, governor of Cuba,Chap. VIII. sent out another armament to the country we 19
had discovered
Chap. IX. How we landed at Champoton 23
We continued our course and ran into
Chap. X. 24
Terminos bay, as we named it
How we came into the Tabasco river, which
Chap. XI. we termed the Grijalva, and what happened to 25
us there
We come in sight of the town of Aguajaluco,Chap. XII. 28
and give it the name of La Rambla
How we arrive on the Bandera stream and
Chap. XIII. 29
gain 1500 pesos
How we come into the harbour of San Juan
Chap. XIV. 32
de Ulua
Diego Velasquez sends out a small vessel in
Chap. XV. 33
quest of us
What befel us on our coasting voyage along
Chap. XVI. 34the Tusta and Tuspa mountains
Diego Velasquez despatches one of his
Chap. XVII. 38
officials to Spain
Of some errors in the work of Francisco Lopez
Chap. XVIII. 39
de Gomara
How another armament was fitted out for a
voyage to the newly discovered countries; the
command of which was given to Hernando
Chap. XIX. 42
Cortes, afterwards Marquis of the Vale of
Oaxaca; also of the secret cabals which were
formed to deprive him of it
Of the designs and plans of Hernando Cortes
Chap. XX. after he had obtained the appointment of 45
captain
Cortes' occupations at Trinidad, and of the
Chap. XXI. cavaliers and warriors who there joined our 47
expedition, and other matters
How the governor, Diego Velasquez, sends
two of his officials in all haste to Trinidad, with
Chap. XXII. full power and authority to deprive Cortes of 49
his appointment of captain, and bring the
squadron away, &c.
Cortes embarks with all his cavaliers and
soldiers in order to sail along the south side of
Chap. XXIII. the island to the Havannah, and sends off one 51
of the vessels to go around the north coast for
the same port
Diego Velasquez sends one of his officials,
named Gaspar Garnica, with full authority to
Chap. XXIV. 54
take Cortes prisoner, whatever might be the
consequence; and what further happened
Cortes sets sail with the whole squadron forChap. XXV. the island of Cozumel, and what further took 56
place
Cortes reviews his troops, and what further
Chap. XXVI. 57
happened
Cortes receives information that two
Spaniards are in the power of the Indians at
Chap. XXVII. 58
the promontory of Cotoche: the steps he took
upon this news
The manner in which Cortes divides the
squadron. The officers whom he appointed to
Chap. XXVIII. the command of the several vessels. His 62
instructions to the pilots; the signals which
were to be made with lanterns at night, &c.
How the Spaniard Geronimo de Aguilar, who
was in the power of the Indians, came to us
Chap. XXIX. when he learnt that we had again returned to 63
the island of Cozumel, and what further
happened
How we re-embark and sail for the river
Chap. XXX. Grijalva, and what happened to us on our 66
voyage there
How we arrive in the river Grijalva, called in
Chap. XXXI. the Indian language the Tabasco; the battle 68
we fought there; and what further took place
How Cortes despatches two of our principal
officers, each with one hundred men, to
Chap. XXXII. 71
explore the interior of the country, and what
further took place
Cortes issues orders that we should hold
ourselves in readiness to march against the
Chap. XXXIII. Indians on the following day; he also 73
commands the horses to be brought on shore.
How the battle terminates we fought with them
How we are attacked by all the caziques of
Chap.
Tabasco, and the whole armed force of this 74
XXXIV. province, and what further took place
How Cortes assembles all the caziques of
Chap. XXXV. 77
this province, and what further happened
How all the caziques and calachonis of the
Chap.
river Grijalva arrive with presents, and what 80
XXXVI.
happened after this
How Doña Marina herself was a caziquess,
Chap. and the daughter of distinguished
84
XXXVII. personages; also a ruler over a people and
several towns; and how she came to Tabasco
Chap. How we arrive with our vessels in San Juan
86
XXXVIII. de Ulua, and what we did there
How Teuthlille makes his report to
Chap.
Motecusuma, and gives him our presents; as 90
XXXIX.
also what further took place in our campHow Cortes goes in search of another
Chap. XL. harbour and a good spot to found a colony, 92
and what further happened
What happened on account of our bartering
Chap. XLI. for gold, and of other things which took place 94
in our camp
How we elected Hernando Cortes captain-
general and chief justice until we should
Chap. XLII. 97
receive the emperor's commands on this
head; and what further happened
How the partisans of Diego Velasquez would
Chap. XLIII. not acknowledge the power we had conferred 100
upon Cortes, and what further took place
How Pedro de Alvarado was ordered to make
an excursion into the interior of the country, in
Chap. XLIV. 101
order to procure maise and other provisions;
and what further happened
How we marched into Sempoalla, which at
Chap. XLV. that period was a very considerable township, 104
and what we did there
How we march into Quiahuitzlan, which was
Chap. XLVI. a town with fortifications, and were most 106
friendly received
How Cortes ordered the five Mexican tax-
gatherers to be rther obedience to be paid
Chap. XLVII. Motecusuma, nor tribute to be exacted; and of 109
the rebellion which was now excited against
this monarch
How we resolved to found Villa Rica de la
Vera Cruz, and construct a fortress on the low
Chap. XLVIII. meadows, in the neighbourhood of some salt 111
springs and the harbour, where our vessels
were anchored; and what further happened
How the fat cazique and other chief men of
the country come and complain to Cortes that
a garrison of Mexicans had been thrown into
Chap. XLIX. 114
the strong fortress of Tzinpantzinco,
committing great depredations; and what
further took place
How some of Diego Velasquez's adherents
refused to take any further part in our
proceedings, and declared their determination
Chap. L. to return to Cuba, seeing that Cortes was 115
earnestly bent upon founding a colony, and
had already commenced to pacify the
inhabitants
What happened to us at Tzinpantzinco, and
how, on our return to Sempoalla, we
Chap. LI. 117destroyed all the idols; likewise of other
matters
How Cortes erects an altar, and placesthereon the image of the blessed Virgin with a
Chap. LII. 121
cross; after which mass was said, and the
eight Indian females were baptized
How we arrived in our town of Vera Cruz, and
Chap. LIII. 123
what happened there
Concerning the account of our adventures,
with the letter, which we sent his majesty the
Chap. LIV. emperor, through Puertocarrero and Montejo, 125
the letter being attested by some officers and
soldiers
How Diego Velasquez is informed by his
agents that we had sent messengers with
Chap. LV. 127
letters and presents to our king, and what
further took place
How our agents passed through the Bahama
channel with the most favorable wind, and
Chap. LVI. 129
arrived in Castile after a short passage; and of
our success at court
What took place in our camp after the
departure of our agents to his majesty with the
Chap. LVII. 132
gold and the letters; and the instance of
severity which Cortes was compelled to give
How we came to the resolution of marching to
Mexico, and of destroying all our vessels,
Chap. LVIII. 133
which was done with the sanction and by the
advice of all Cortes' true adherents
Of the speech which Cortes made to us after
Chap. LIX. our vessels were destroyed, and how we 135
prepared for our march to Mexico
How Cortes arrived with us at the spot where
the vessel lay at anchor, and captured six
Chap. LX. soldiers and sailors of the said vessel who 136
had stepped on shore; also what further took
place
How we set out on our march to the city of
Mexico, and, upon the advice of the caziques,
Chap. LXI. 138
take our road over Tlascalla. What took place
here, and of the battles we fought
How we commenced our march upon
Tlascalla, and sent messengers before us, to
obtain the sanction of the inhabitants to pass
Chap. LXII. 143
through their country; how they took our
messengers prisoners; and what further
happened
Of the terrible battles we fought with the
Chap. LXIII. 146
Tlascallans, and what further happened
How we quartered ourselves in the township
Chap. LXIV. 149
of Tehuacacinco, and what we did there
Of the great battle we fought with the
Chap. LXV. 150
Tlascallans, and what further took placeHow we sent a message next day to the
caziques of Tlascalla to bring about peace
Chap. LXVI. 153
between us, and the determination they came
to upon this
How we again sent messengers to the
Chap. LXVII. caziques of Tlascalla em to make peace, and 157
the resolution they came to upon this
How we came to the determination of
Chap. LXVIII. marching to a township in the neighbourhood 158
of our camp, and what happened upon this
How we found, on our return to our
encampment, that new intrigues had been set
Chap. LXIX. 160
on foot; and the answer Cortes gave to certain
representations which were made to him
How the captain Xicotencatl assembled
20,000 chosen warriors to make an attack
Chap. LXX. 165
upon us in our camp, and what happened
upon this
How four chief personages arrived in our
Chap. LXXI. camp to negotiate terms of peace with us, and 167
what further happened
How ambassadors arrive in our camp from
Chap. LXXII. Motecusuma, and of the presents they 170
brought with them
How the captain-general Xicotencatl arrives
Chap. LXXIII. in our camp to negotiate terms of peace; the 171
speech he made, and what further happened
How the old caziques of Tlascalla arrived in
Chap. LXXIV. our camp and invited Cortes and all of us to 175
visit their city, and what further happened
How we marched into the city of Tlascalla,
and were received by the old caziques; of the
Chap. LXXV. present they made us, and how they brought 176
us their daughters and nieces; and what
further happened
How mass was said in the presence of a great
Chap. LXXVI. number of caziques, and of the present the 178
latter brought us
How the caziques presented their daughters
Chap.
to Cortes and all of us, and what further 180
LXXVII.
happened
How Cortes gained some information
Chap.
respecting Mexico from Xicotencatl and 183
LXXVIII.
Maxixcatzin
How our captain Hernando Cortes and all our
Chap. LXXIX. officers and soldiers determine to march to 187
Mexico
How the great Motecusuma despatched four
ambassadors to us, rity, with presents in gold
Chap. LXXX. 190
and cotton stuffs, and what they said to our