What Montezuma's Aztec Sounded Like - and how we know

What Montezuma's Aztec Sounded Like - and how we know


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The Aztecs didn't call him Montezuma. Nor Moctezuma. They didn't call chocolate "chocolate". Heck, they didn't even call themselves Aztec! Though they were an oral culture, we have an idea of what their language really sounded like. Here's why.

He's commonly known to English-speakers as Montezuma and Moctezuma in Spanish, but his language is a different story. Travel to Mexico and dig into language history. Look at early colonial writers and grammarians, learn their strengths and limitations, then move onto some surprising old and new evidence.

Along the way, you'll learn what the Aztecs called themselves and their language and how they really said "chocolate". You'll study a bit of their fancy grammar. You'll hear me take a shot at pronouncing the reconstructed form of Montezuma's own name as it would've been pronounced in old Tenochtitlan. You'll see how it took modern linguistics to sort out some of the historical evolution of the language's sounds from classical to modern times. Finally, you'll learn about the dramatic differences between common speech and ritual speech. In the end, you can see how the pronunciation, grammar and style leave us with an understanding of Montezuma that's more complex, but also more beautiful, than if his language were a simple Mexican monolith.


These Are The Top 11 Of Aztec Gods That You Should Know About

He was considered as the god of the sun and war, attributes which elevated him to the position of the patron deity of Tenochtitlan itself (by early 15th century), thus intrinsically tying up the 'hunger' of gods with the Aztec penchant for ritual war. Taking cues from the mythical narrative, Aztecs interpreted.

Top10Archive is a collection of Top 10 videos based on various topics! What Montezuma's Aztec Sounded Like - and how we know. Mythic Сезон 1 • Серия 21. The Aztec myth of the unlikeliest sun god - Kay Almere Read. 11:40 Текущее видео. History Summarized: The Maya, Aztec, and Inca.

Tlaloc is one of the oldest universal gods in Mexico. Despite the Spanish Evangelization of the early 1600s, some Mexicans continue to venerate it. As the Aztecs have a habit of adapting the earlier gods, he is said to be derived from the Mayan god Chaac. Other historians, on the other hand.

The Aztecs, the Late Postclassic civilization that the Spanish conquistadorsmet in Mexico in the 16h century, believed in a complex and diversified pantheon of gods and goddesses. Scholars studying the Aztec (or Mexica) religion have identified no fewer than 200 gods and goddesses, divided into.

In fact, the Aztecs believed that the Gods needed constant supplies of fresh blood. Otherwise they would wither and die. Which is why the entire But corrections are always welcome, especially from people with first-hand knowledge. So if you know the region and would like to comment, weɽ love to.

Camaxtli was the Aztec version of the Greek god of war, Ares. He might not be as famous as his Despite being one of the primordial gods and lord of life, Ometecuhtli was the only Aztec god for whom no temple was erected. He could easily be the god of hippies now that we think about it. 11.

Quetzalcoatl was thought of as the god of wind and rain, and intimately involved with endeavors including science, agriculture, and crafts. No room here for biographies about the hundreds of deities, or even the most high profile of them. Here's a YouTube video about more: The history of the Aztec.

The Aztec priests saw the eagle, just as the gods had promised And so the Aztecs set about a. the built a number of cities b. reached its height in the 10th and 11th centuries c. Their capital, Tollan The Aztecs was influenced by the Teotihuacan and the Toltecs. Which of the following is true of the.

The ancient Aztecs employed a variety of entheogenic plants and animals within their society. The various species have been identified through their depiction on murals, vases, and other objects. The plants used include ololiuqui (Rivea corymbosa), teonanácatl (Psilocybe spp.), sinicuichi.

The Bank of Japan has not responded to our questions regarding why Japan's yield curve looks like The rules and submission guidelines are maintained on new Reddit so be sure to check them and make sure Try No Meme Mode, also accessible through the top bar. Follow @Official_WSB on Twitter.

Huitzilopochtli is known as "the portentous one", the god who indicated to the Aztecs/Mexica where they should build It was also the center of the crossing of the four main causeways that connected the Tenochtitlán to the mainland. Top 10 Things to Know About the Aztecs and Their Empire.

An image of the Aztec god Xochipilli, center, is part of a display of items used as offerings to the god, at the The curriculum instructs the pupils to invoke these gods to empower themselves as "social After all,that is what children should be burdened with doing - righting the wrongs created by adults.

Aztecs also thought that the gods needed to be nourished with blood. One way they fed the gods was through The sacrifices were taken to the top of a pyramid and placed face up on an altar. For reasons that should be obvious, the people of Tlaxcala didn't like being treated this way and this.

source : www.realmofhistory.com
Ten Essential Facts You Need to Know About the Aztecs

One of the reasons for this was their aggression towards other tribes that led to constant battles. These feuds were often caused because the Aztecs - Another important god was Huitzilopchti. He was the fearful god of Tenochtitlan and the temple in the center of the city was built in his honor.

source : www.realmofhistory.com
The Aztecs TheSchoolRun Did you know?

The Aztecs were known for being rather fierce and in fact didn't have the best of reputations - they Did you know? Although we know them as Aztecs, the Aztec people used to call themselves Much of the Aztecs' art was about pleasing and honouring the gods so Aztec temples were covered with.

Macuilxochitl, also known as Xochipilli, was the Aztec god of gambling, dancing, music, and hemorrhoids. This means that in addition to The top ten of the 200 Aztec gods and goddesses recognized by scholars include the most famous and important figures of the Aztec religion.

The Aztec Empire was a Native American state that ruled much of what is now Mexico from about The name Aztec is derived from Aztlan, the mythical homeland of the Mexica according to tradition This ruler was considered semidivine, a descendant of the Aztec gods, and served as both military.

Many of the gods were ancient Mesoamerican deities worshipped by the cultures preceding the Aztecs but were adopted, adapted, and assimilated into the Aztec's own unique assembly of gods and goddesses. Below is a list of the principal Aztec deities in alphabetical order.

Europeans at the time knew nothing about the Aztecs and the origins of their legendary seven tribes remain Aztecs spent lavishly on religious buildings. Their gods were fierce and had to be appeased with We know from the Spaniards' own accounts that this was the largest of 78 buildings in the.

source : blog.britishmuseum.org
Global History 1 Finals World History Quiz - Quizizz

Play this game to review World History. What is the best title for the diagram? Tags: Question 11. SURVEY. 45 seconds. long periods of drought that led to isolation. dependence on slaves to produce manufactured goods. Q. • Sunnis and Shiites have different views about who should lead the Muslim faith. •

source : www.aztec-history.com
The Fate of Earthly Things: Aztec Gods and God-Bodies on JSTOR

You are viewing the table of contents. You do not have access to this book on JSTOR. Understanding "the gods" concerned both the Aztecs and the Spaniards from the earliest moments of Contact. We know this in part from the awe they expressed regarding the Aztec gods and their.

They believed that the balance of the natural world, the processes that make life possible - like the rain or solar energy -, and that the destiny of people depended on the will of these gods. The Aztecs thought that the power of the gods should be acknowledged and thanks given to them, so.

Aztec mythology is the body or collection of myths of Aztec civilization of Central Mexico. The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking groups living in central The location of this valley and lake of destination is clear - it is the heart of modern Mexico City - but little can be known with certainty about the origin.

God" TECHALOTL- "Squirrel" TECHLOTL- "God of the Underworld" TETEO INNAN-(TOCI)- "Mother of the Gods" TEPEYOLLOTL- "Heart of the Mountain" TEUCCIZTECATL- "The Moon" TEZCATLIPOCA-"The Mirror That Smokes""He Whose Slaves We Are" TEZCATZONCATL- "Pulque.

#Egyptian Gods #Aztec Gods #Greek Gods #who the fuck cares about ganymede when XOCHIPILLI was CANONICALLY the god of gay men. Important message: All of the people used for these edits are from where the mythology is or have at least heritage from. Top aztec-gods Tumblrs.

The Aztec Empire dominated what is now the country of Mexico. The first Aztec ruler history knows was Itzcoati who ruled in the early 15th century. In the later part of the 15th century a ruler named Ahuitzoti ruled the Aztec Empire. About 15 years before the arrival of Spanish conquistador Cortes.

source : www.realmofhistory.com
How did the Aztecs Influence the World Today? by Sai Kurra

One of the most famous was the great temple that was surrounded by lots of plazas and houses. There still are two colorful shrines perched on top of these two temples to worship the gods. In one of the Aztec emperors palace there is the famous Moctezuma's Zoo. This zoo has a rare collection.

The calendar of the Aztecs was derived from earlier calendars in the Valley of Mexico and was basically similar to that of the Maya. The face of the Aztec sun god , Tonatiuh , appears at the centre of the stone, surrounded by four square panels honouring previous incarnations of the deity.


Montezuma’s Zoo

Digging 3 meters down from the floor of the National Museum of Cultures in Mexico City, the archaeological team headed by Doctor Elsa Cristina Hernández Pons hit a curious basalt slab. Ever since Hernández was a little girl she had been lucky at finding things. On trips to the sprawling ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacán in the early 1960s, accompanied by her father, she would find pieces of obsidian and fragments of pottery for her collection while digging just below the surface. She would nurture her curiosity of the past and later studied to become an archaeologist, earning her PhD from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM. After her dissertation, Hernández was hired by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History in July of 1978 to work at the site of the Templo Mayor, the main ancient pyramid complex, in the heart of Mexico City. Over the course of her career she has had some amazing finds, including the discovery of a 500-year-old Aztec sculpture called “The Cuauhxicalli Eagle” in 1985, an intact stone carving of a gigantic bird that was so detailed one could see the fine lines of the feathers on its back. Her latest discovery in 2015 may be her most important find yet. Like so many other buildings in the older part of Mexico City, the National Museum of Culture was built on top of a building that was once another building. Hernández’ excavation is like a time tunnel going all the way to the epoch when Mexico City was the imperial capital of the vast Aztec Empire and was then called Tenochtitlán. The basalt floor she found is not to any ordinary building. Archaeologists believe that Doctor Hernández has found the section of the imperial palace of the Aztec emperors called Las Casas Nuevas, which would be loosely translated into “the newer additions” in English. These newer additions to the palace complex were made by Emperor Montezuma the Second, the 45-year-old ruler of the Aztecs who lorded over the Aztec Empire at the time of the Spanish Conquest led by Hernán Cortés in 1519. According to Spanish written accounts from the time, in the newer part of the palace complex we find Montezuma’s meditation rooms as well as the emperor’s legendary zoo, a private menagerie that would have been the envy of any European ruler at the time and may have been much larger than the fabulous zoo of the Great Khan as described by Italian adventurer Marco Polo on his visit to China in the 13 th Century. Work continues beneath the culture museum and the possible find of Montezuma’s zoo may be the crowning achievement of the career of Doctor Hernández which has solidly spanned 4 decades.

Before we talk about the emperor’s menagerie, we must first provide context. At the time of the Spanish arrival in Mexico, the Aztecs were the rulers of the majority of the lands and peoples of the central part of the country. The Aztecs ruled over people directly or through small client kingdoms which paid the empire tribute. A vast trade network radiated outward from the capital of Tenochtitlán, which was built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco and later became the modern-day capital called Mexico City. The trade network penetrated the dense jungles of Central America and extended as far north as the Indian villages in present-day Arizona and New Mexico. Tenochtitlán was the center of what has been termed as a dendritic system all roads eventually led back to the capital with a positive flow of wealth coming to Tenochtitlán as the center of empire. When the Spanish arrived here in 1519 they were not met with hostility. The emperor knew Cortés was coming, and curious about the Spaniard’s intentions, he welcomed the visitor and his men as honored guests. Because of this cordial reception we have many first-hand European accounts of a living and breathing Aztec Empire. All of Cortés’ contingent were amazed at the city. Many of the Spanish soldiers had visited the major metropolises of the Old World: Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople. Nothing prepared them for the magnificence they would experience once they crossed the narrow causeway spanning the lake and were welcomed to Tenochtitlán by Montezuma. The majestic buildings, the abundance and efficiency of the markets, the cleanliness and attention to detail throughout the capital city were unlike anything they had ever before seen on earth. The massive imperial palace complex drew much attention. There were swimming pools, lavish apartments for the emperor’s family and foreign dignitaries, lush gardens where thousands of flowers bloomed and the often-wrote-about legendary private zoo of Montezuma.

The zoo consisted of two aviaries, one for larger birds of prey and one for smaller birds. There were 20 ponds – 10 of freshwater and 10 of saltwater – which were stocked with various fish and served as habitat for waterfowl. There was a section for mammals, including large carnivores, and one for reptiles. As they were unfamiliar with the names of the many animals, the Spanish could only briefly describe what they saw in their journals and other written accounts. A member of the Cortés expedition named Bernal Díaz del Castillo writes this about the aviaries in his book, Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, The True History of the Conquest of New Spain:

“I am forced to abstain from enumerating every kind of bird that was there and it peculiarity, for there was everything from the Royal Eagle and other smaller eagles, and many other birds of great size, down to tiny birds of many-colored plumage, also the birds from which they take the rich plumage which they use in their green feather work. They birds which have these feathers are about the size of the magpies of Spain, they are called in this country quetzales and there are other birds which have feathers of five colors – green, red, white, yellow and blue I don’t remember what they are called then there were parrots of many different colors, and there are so many of them that I forget their names, not to mention the beautifully marked ducks and other larger ones like them. From all these birds they plucked the feathers when the time was right to do so, and the feathers grew again. All the birds that I have spoken about breed in these houses, and in the setting season certain Indian men and women who look after the birds place the eggs under them and clean the nests and feed them, so that each kind of bird has its proper food. In this house that I have spoken of there is a great tank of fresh water and in it there are sorts of birds with long stilted legs, with body, wings and tail all red I don’t know their names, but in the island of Cuba they are called Ypiris, and there are others something like them, and there are also in that tank many other kinds of birds which always live in water.”

The zoo had thousands of specimens and the Spaniards noted that it employed over 300 zookeepers to tend to the animals. As turkeys were an abundant source of food in the Aztec Empire, chroniclers wrote that 500 turkeys a day were used as food for the carnivorous animals, which not only included the birds of prey but also included wolves, large dogs and the great cats such as jaguars and pumas. These animals also, it was noted, fed on the remains of human captors or sacrificial victims, which were many.

While writing of the mammalian part of the zoo which included sloths, monkeys, bears, rodents and canines of all kinds, Bernal Díaz recounts the most curious area of the zoo to the Spanish visitors, the reptile house, filled with alligators, lizards and snakes of all kinds. He says:

“They also have in that cursed house many vipers and poisonous snakes which carry on their tails things that sound like bells. These are the worst vipers of all, and they keep them in jars and great pottery vessels with many feathers, and there they lay their eggs and rear their young, and they give them to eat the bodies of the Indians who have been sacrificed, and the flesh of the tiny dogs which they are in the habit of breeding.”

Díaz concludes his account of the zoo by writing the following:

“Let me speak now of the infernal noise when the lions and tigers roared and the jackals and foxes howled and the serpents hissed. It was horrible to listen to and it seemed like hell.”

Montezuma’s zoo had a section not seen in any modern zoo: an area for human curiosities. Dwarves and people with various deformities and disabilities who hailed from all parts of the empire were housed in the zoo. As these people were separated from their families, the State compensated family members generously, taking care of them for life. It was almost seen as a blessing to have a relative living in the imperial palace’s human zoo.

To the Spanish, the most unbelievable animal at the zoo was called “The Mexican Bull.” A member of the Cortés expedition named Solís described the animal thus:

“It has crooked shoulders, with a bunch on its back like a camel its flanks dry, its tail large, and its neck covered with hair like a lion. It is cloven footed, its head armed like that of a bull, which it resembles in fierceness, with no less strength and agility.”

Solís was describing a familiar sight to those Natives of the North American Great Plains. The Mexican Bull was really and American bison, more commonly known as a buffalo. At the time of the Aztec Empire’s height, North American bison were found over a thousand miles from the capital city. There were small herds that roamed the northern scrub prairie areas of the modern-day Mexican states of Durango and Nuevo Leon. One could only imagine how an animal like that was transported all the way to Montezuma’s zoo, given that the Aztecs had no use of the wheel.

And what became of Montezuma’s zoo? The story has a tragic ending. When the “honeymoon period” between Cortés and Emperor Montezuma ended, the Spanish decided to take over the Aztec capital and laid siege to the city. The siege lasted 75 days during which the capital which had a population of over a quarter million people was cut off from the mainland and was subjugated through mass starvation. During the two and a half months of the siege, the inhabitants of the once-mighty capital became desperate for food. By the time the population was completely demoralized and surrendered to the Spanish, all animals in the emperor’s private menagerie had been eaten and the grand zoo of Montezuma became the stuff of legend.

REFERENCES (This is not a formal bibliography)

Conquest of Mexico by William H. Prescott
The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Aztecs of Mexico: Origin, Rise and Fall of the Aztec Nation by George C. Vaillant


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Lost Treasure: Montezuma’s Gold

Legends of lost Aztec gold are some of the oldest in the Americas, originating at the very point of the Spanish conquest. With superstitions of ancient curses abound, these tales have inspired hundreds of fruitless quests for a wealth that is said to be beyond comprehension. Tainted by the blood of an emperor and the ruins of an empire, this fortune is believed to be worth billions in gold, silver and gems. Inspiring authentic episodes of torture, murder and greed, many think this treasure might now be located in the United States.

It was in 1519 that a force of Spanish conquistadors landed in Mexico. Led by Hernán Cortés, the notorious army consisted of 508 soldiers, 100 sailors, and 14 small cannon. They would write themselves into the annals of history through blood and fire. Seeking to convert the Aztec population to Christianity, the men instead descended into an orgy of violence and greed as they laid waste one of the great and ancient cultures of the Americas.

Cortés soon arrived at the outskirts of the magnificent Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. Legends say that the Aztecs believing that the power shown bythe Spanish displayed could only be divine and Cortés was heralded as the returned god Quetzalcoatl, who is said to be fair haired and skinned. However, most historians now believe this is untrue and at least the Aztec nobility were fully aware that Cortés was no God. Despite this, he was offered the symbolic penacho (headdress) of Quetzalcoatl de Tula, entering the city in military file over the flower-covered causeway from Iztapalapa. Th causeway was associated with Quetzalcoatl and the spectacle undoubtedly will have impressed the masses.

The Spaniards were welcomed into the capital and offered gold, emperor Montezuma partially becoming jealous of their reception as he tried to make them go away and keep his power as absolute. Equally, he received word before Cortés that Spanish reinforcements were already on their way, understanding that a reenforced garrison would be harder to defend against from inside the city. Montezuma was undoubtedly fearful for his own life, yet also fearing the potential destruction of his city. The offering merely caused the Spanish to become greedy for more and Cortés soon placed Montezuma under arrest. The Spanish then began to ransack Tenochtitlán.

The treasure was vast. Legend tells of Montezuma possessing two gold collars and a massive alligator’s head of gold. There were birds made of more gold alongside other sculptures, all encrusted with precious gems. There was 100 ounces of loose precious metal, wheels made from both gold and silver in different sizes. However, even the discovery of a treasure vault so vast it took three days to divide the loot wasn’t enough for Cortés and his men.

Throughout the coming months, the population of the capital was put to the torture and sword by the colonialists. Hundreds likely died as they tried to gain new information on the treasures of the Aztec empire. The Spanish were allowed a free hand, partly through reverence for their supposed godhood and partly through the legitimate power of the armaments they welded. Finally, however, the spell was broken. In May of 1520, the conquistadors massacred thousands of Aztec nobility and warriors during the festival of Toxcatl, a religious ceremony in honor of the god Tezcatlipoca. With the civilians locked inside the main temple gates, the slaughter was one of the worst individual incidents of murder in human history. The massacre sparked a rebellion against the authoritarian rule of the conquistadors.

Besieged by an entire city, the Spanish tried to use Montezuma as a hostage. The gambit failed. The emperor was killed either by the conquistadors or by the Aztec population who had taken to throwing rocks and turned on the cooperating Montezuma, seeing him as a traitor. Realising their occupation of Tenochtitlán was lost, the conquistadors fled. On July 1, 1520, the Spanish made their escape, attempting to do so by stealth. The city was alerted, however, and the Aztecs attacked the fleeing Spanish, forcing them to dump their massive plunder into Lake Texcoco. It is said the bodies of the Spanish were piled so high that you could walk across the canals on their backs. Poetically, some of the Spanish were so greedy to retain their plunder that they refused to discard it, the metal in their pockets sending them to watery graves as they drowned in the canals. The night became known as La Noche Triste (English: The Sad Night).

Where the treasure ended up following that night in Tenochtitlán has remained a mystery, with many believing that it stayed precisely where the conquistadors dropped it, still lying beneath the mud at Lake Texcoco. Many attempts to recover the gold have been made by both private treasure hunters and local authorities, all ending in failure.

In 1521, Cortés returned to the city and retook it, capturing the new emperor Cuauhtémoc and torturing him into revealing where the treasure had gone. Despite holding him over a fire, Cortés couldn’t get him to expose more than a handful of gold, the emperor insisting the wealth was all gone. Torturing anyone who the conquistadors believed had information, they discovered the treasure had allegedly gone north and been deposited in a lake. Cortés is said to have searched 5,000 lakes in his quest to recover the gold, finding nothing. Despite these claims, some believe the Spanish did eventually recover some of the gold from the irrigation channels. These claims suggest that they tried to ship their loot back to Spain and the treasure was probably lost at sea.

In 2019, evidence to support the theory that the gold never left Mexico was revealed when archaeologists confirmed that a gold bar found in 1981 was from Montezuma’s treasure. Discovered by a construction worker in Mexico City, the immense gold bar weighs 4.25 lbs and is believed to have been on the route taken by Cortés out of Tenochtitlán. Researchers at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) analysed the bar. They noted that the composition of the gold matched other relics recovered from Tenochtitlán’s main temple.

One legend told in Costa Rica says, however, that Aztec high priests knew too well that Cortés and his conquistadors would be back soon enough. Understanding they were outgunned, the priests exhumed the body of Montezuma and began a mass exodus from their capital. 2,000 Aztecs marched north in search of their ancestral home of Aztlan, believing that would be safe from the colonialists. On this journey, they took all the great treasures of the Aztec civilisation. These included those that had been discarded on La Noche Triste. The procession marched north-west until they reached a mountain of seven caves known as Chicomoztoc. The seven caves of the Chicomoztoc represents the birthplace of seven Aztec tribes. Knowing they were safe, the slaves were put to the sword, and the treasure was buried.

Some have theorised that the seven caves are located in seven different locations and link this with Francisco Vázquez de Coronado’s quest for the Seven Cities of Gold. This pursuit may indicate the conquistadors never recovered the treasure.

In 1527, the Narváez expedition set out to establish colonies and garrisons in Florida, with the endeavour ending in disaster as only four men survived from an initial number of 600. These four included Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and a slave by the name of Esteban Dorantes. Returning to New Spain, the survivors told tales of great cities and riches, and Coronado set out to find the fabled Seven Cities of Gold that were seemingly located across the New Mexico desert. Coronado discovered that there were no gleaming cities, and there was no gold. However, it is said that indigenous communities in the region still talk of the thousands of strangers carrying an immense wealth long ago.

Some believe that this legend indicates the treasure made it’s way out of Mexico entirely, with one claim from the archaeologist Thomas Gann suggesting that the myth of the riches headed north was likely false. Gann believes that instead, it is far more likely to have headed south into Guatemala. However, many believe the legend as it is told and see the treasure as being located in the south-west United States, with the Grand Canyon, Utah and Arizona featuring most prominently in the legends.

It was in 1867 that James White succeeded in passing through the rapids of the Grand Canyon, having strapped himself to a raft of three logs. His desperate journey had been forced upon him after his prospecting party was attacked by natives in western Colorado. After coming ashore at the Mormon farming settlement of Rioville, White remembered having taken shelter in a cavern a week into his ordeal. The inadvertent castaway claimed inside the cavern he had seen golden relics, huge idols and both silver and gemstones in abundance. After his tale became public knowledge, a local journalist showed him pictures of Aztec artefacts, and White confirmed the similarity. While the memory may have been an illusion of a man dying of thirst and hunger, interestingly he claimed to have never seen anything like it before and refused to ever accompany an exhibition to locate the cavern.

The tale would’ve been long forgotten if it hadn’t appeared again in 1902 following another near tragedy. Jake Johnson, a desert prospector, was working alone in the badlands south of St. George, Utah when he broke his leg. Suffering from exposure, Johnson was near death when he was found by members of the local Paiute tribe. Johnson was nursed back to health and one evening when out hunting, he saved the life of a young woman from a mountain lion, becoming like a brother to her warrior companion. One evening, around the campfire, the warrior spoke of a local treasure.

The native told of how legends of his people spoke of a large party of men who had come that way with slaves and containers full of gold and jewels. The big group entered the Grand Canyon and existed at the south rim without the gold. The slaves were killed, and half the men stayed on guard. Eventually, these Aztecs integrated into the local tribes when their companions failed to return. The location of the gold was still known to the Paiute, and the young warrior stated that it must never be known to outsiders as the legend said that it would spell the end of the Paiute if it were ever lost.

Of course, he then agreed to show Jake Johnson the cave. Johnson told his brother, and both men met with the warrior in September of 1903, an agreement made that they may remove as much treasure as they could carry in exchange for Johnson’s good deed. The men were blindfolded and taken a day south of Pipe Spring before going the rest of the way on foot. Entering some volcanic caves, the party descended and joined an underground cavern. Inside was riches beyond compare, just as James White had declared 40 years prior. Returning home, the men sold their treasure for $15,000, $450,000 in today’s currency.

Like Cortés before them, the men were not satisfied with their haul and began to look for the cave without the help of the Paiute, intent on taking everything. Struggling, they published their story in the Salt Lake Mining Review and caused a gold rush. It was all in vain, however, and neither the gold nor the cavern was ever found. Since that time, the Hoover Dam has completely changed the geography of the area. Many believe that the cavern, if it existed, is likely under the waters of Lake Mead.

Those who favour a Utah resting place highlight the legendary 1920 hunt of Freddy Crystal, a miner and treasure hunter. Crystal was allegedly in Mexico City and searching an old church when he discovered a document. Written by a Spanish monk, the manuscript dated back to the time of the fall of Tenochtitlán and contained a map that had seemingly been obtained from one of the Aztec porters by way of torture. Conveniently, the document revealed the Spanish had failed to get the treasure as they were unfamiliar with the geography of the United States.

Crystal, however, knew the area well, having spent time in Utah inspecting petroglyphs on the walls of the canyons there. He had already believed the treasure was in Utah long before travelling to Mexico and finding the map through his amazingly good fortune. The treasure seeker made his way to Johnson Canyon and found more petroglyphs in the area, eventually coming across a set of ancient steps at the White Mountain. Making his way up the steps, Crystal found a sealed tunnel which he broke into, discovering blue limestone blocks that were not native to the region. He made his way to the local town of Kenab and recruited assistance in an excavation, prompting much of the population to aid his effort. Such was the secrecy of the endeavour, the town council banned the word “treasure” from being said in public.

Travelling 20 miles with tools, food and water, a significant effort was undertaken to dig out the gold. The frenzy led to much of the mountain being pockmarked by shafts, tunnels and piles of spoils, covering the area in tons of rock, dirt and detritus. After three years of excavations, no gold was found. Some believe that the treasure had, in fact, been located at the base of the White Mountain all along. Consumed by his failure, Freddy Crystal seemingly vanished into thin air.

The story of Freddy Crystal and the Utah Aztec gold rush came to national prominence in October of 1948 when Maurine Whipple wrote a notable article on the affair that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, quickly spreading to other media outlets. Most retellings of the tale are based on the original article by Whipple, with embellishments such as booby traps and relics.

In his 1982 book Lost Mines and Buried Treasures Along the Old Frontier, the historian and treasure hunter John Mitchell revealed that during the Mexican-American War, an aristocrat by the name of Don Joaquin had Apache slaves dig at the Sierra Estrellas, a mountain south-west of Phoenix, Arizona. Before Don Joaquin could make off with the treasure, an intervention by the US Army led to a revolt amongst the slaves, and the Mexican contingent were forced to rebury the prize at Montezuma’s Head. One man survived to tell the tale and attempted to recover the treasure in the 1880s, failing as the area was still controlled by the Apache.

There are many other locations suggested for the treasure, with Casa Grande, and Montezuma Castle in Arizona being mentioned alongside locations as far apart as the Superstition Mountain Range in San Diego, Del Rio in Texas and even Illinois and Kentucky.

While we can never discount men’s ability to tell a tall tale and tendency to embellish the past and their own histories, the commonality of the stories of the Aztec exodus north is undoubtedly intriguing. Yet, stories and legends are all they genuinely amount to, with no verifiable proof that a single nugget of Montezuma’s gold ever left Mexico. On the contrary, archaeologists have found concrete evidence that at least part of the treasure was still to be located in Mexico City. But one bar doesn’t make a hoard, and there are still billions in lost gold unaccounted for. Whether this wealth was reclaimed by the Aztecs, lying undisturbed for centuries, or plundered like so much besides, the legend of Montezuma’s lost gold is one that will thrill readers and treasure seekers alike for many centuries to come. Yet, it comes with the solemn lesson that greed is always timeconsuming, foolhardy and often deadly.


What Montezuma's Aztec Sounded Like - and how we know - History

In the green land of the valley the Spaniards were met by another embassy from Montezuma. The envoys had expected to meet the strangers on the farther side of the mountains, and were astonished at the ease with which they had surmounted that formidable barrier. They had been sent to offer Cortes bribes and a yearly tribute for his king if he would even now turn back. When Montezuma had received the news that the Spaniards were actually in the valley and marching towards the capital, he retired to sacrifice and prayer alone. The gods were dumb, no good omen answered his supplication. " We are born, let that come which must come ! " cried the unhappy man at last.

The Mexica Triple Alliance (Nahuatl: Excan Tlahtoloyan or Aztec Empire began as an alliance of three Nahua city-states or "altepetl": Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. These city-states ruled the area in and around the Valley of Mexico from 1428 until they were defeated by the Spanish conquistadors and their native allies under Hernán Cortés in 1521.

The Triple Alliance was formed from the victorious faction in a war between the city of Azcapotzalco and its former tributary provinces.Despite the initial conception of the empire as an alliance of three cities, Tenochtitlan quickly established itself as the dominant partner. By the time the Spanish arrived in 1520, the lands of the Alliance were effectively ruled from Tenochtitlan, and the other partners in the alliance had assumed subsidiary roles. The alliance waged wars of conquest and expanded rapidly after its formation.

At its height, the alliance controlled most of central Mexico as well as some more distant territories within Mesoamerica. Aztec rule has been described by scholars as "hegemonic" or "indirect". Rulers of conquered cities were usually left in power as long as they agreed to pay semi-annual tribute to the alliance or provided military support in wars with enemy states.

Even from his council he received no help opinion was divided, some were for amicably receiving the strangers, others, and among these his brother Cuitlahuac, would drive them from the land. Hopeless himself, Montezuma inclined to the peaceful party, exclaiming, " Of what avail is resistance, when the gods have declared themselves against us ! " He determined to send his nephew Cacama, the lord of Tezcuco, with other nobles, to welcome the invaders.

chinampas - Aztec floating gardens

The prince with his retinue found the Spaniards at Chalco, the most southerly of the five lakes. Corte's was much impressed with the dignity of Cacama's bearing and by the courtesy of his greetings. When the imposing cortege had retired, the army followed the southern shore of the lake until a great dyke was reached leading across to the narrow peninsula which separates the fresh waters of Chalco from briny Tezcuco. This stone roadway with its evidence of engineering skill excited the admiration of the Europeans, while they were charmed with the gay scene around them. The waters were bright with chinampas, the floating gardens so beloved by the Mexicans myriads of canoes darted to and fro. " And when," says Bernal Diaz, " we saw from thence so many cities rising up from the water, and other populous places , and that causeway straight as a carpenter's level, we remained astonished, and said to one another that it appeared like the enchanted castles they tell of in the book of Amadis ! Some even of our soldiers asked if this that they saw was not a thing in a dream . "

The worlds of Cortes and Montezuma collide and come to life.

Near the shores of Lake Tezcuco lay Iztapalapan, the wonderful City of Gardens, where Montezuma had prepared a royal reception for his guests. The palace, which belonged to Cuitlahuac, was most magnificent, and here the Spaniards were entertained. The ceilings were of sweet-smelling cedar wood, and the walls were hung with tapestry of fine cotton. But the gardens, unrivaled in Europe, were the glory of the place. They occupied a large tract of land and were watered by means of aqueducts and canals. The grounds were laid out in regular squares, and numerous paths trellised with roses, honeysuckle, and brilliant creepers ran in every direction. Flower beds, scientifically arranged, astonished the rough soldiers. In the orchards were rare fruit-trees brought from distant lands. An aviary and a great reservoir of sculptured stone full of curious fishes attracted the attention of all. " I thought within myself," says Bernal Diaz, " that this was the garden of the world."

Montezuma and the Coming of Cortés

The Great city of Tenochtitlan, 1945 Diego Riveria

At sunrise next morning the Spaniards marched on to the great causeway which led across the salt lake to the city of Mexico. It was the eighth of November, a day glorious in the annals of Spain. Each soldier looked grave and anxious he was leaving the open country behind and committing himself to the very citadel of the enemy. Cortes, ever alive to the spirit of his men, ordered the trumpeters and drummers to play, and it was to the strains of a triumphant march that the Spaniards went forward. In the van rode the cavalry, horseman and horse alike glittering in steel mail. At their saddle-bows hung heavy battle axes. In his right hand each cavalier carried a lance which rested on his iron shoe, and from the lance a silken pennon waved. Plumed helmets and gay scarves gave color to the cavalcade. Foremost rode Cortes with his two

favourite captains on either side, Alvarado, dauntless in bearing and splendid in dress, and modest young Sandoval, in whom "courage was combined with judgment." Father Olmedo, bareheaded and dressed in rough black serge, followed the horsemen on his mule. Then came in order a chosen guard with the flag of Spain, the artillery drawn by slaves, the infantry, cross-bowmen, gunners, and the tanners with the baggage.

With insolent pride marched in the rear the two thousand Tlascalans, who were to enter for the first time the city of their ancient foes . About a mile and a half from the walls, at a point where a smaller dyke branched off to the western shore, the causeway was barred by the famous stone fort of Xoloc, twelve feet high with towers at either end. A mighty gate swung open for the army to pass through, and, as it clanged heavily behind, each Spaniard breathed a prayer to his guardian saint. They were but four hundred in number, and they were entering an island city of over three hundred thousand inhabitants from which retreat would be wellnigh impossible. "And now let who can tell me," boasts Bernal Diaz with pardonable pride, "where are the men in this world to be found except ourselves who would have hazarded such an attempt ? " As the Spaniards crossed the wooden drawbridge which joined the causeway to the city they beheld, slowly approaching, a procession so magnificent that an awestruck whisper passed through their ranks " It is the emperor ! the great Montezuma himself ! "

written over a seven-year period to Charles V of Spain, provide an extraordinary narrative account of the conquest of Mexico from the founding of the coastal town of Veracruz until Cortés's journey to Honduras in 1525

Three ushers with golden wands walked in advance to clear the way. Then barefooted and bareheaded came princes of the blood carrying on their proud shoulders the royal palanquin glittering with gold and surmounted by a canopy of green feathers sprinkled with precious stones. Behind, with reverent mien and downcast eyes walked an escort of nobles richly dressed in green and silver. The procession halted, and a carpet of white cloth was spread on the ground. Then leaning on the arms of Cuitlahuac, his brother, and the lord of Tezcuco, his nephew, the emperor descended from his palanquin and advanced on foot to meet his guests. His cloak and tunic were embroidered with jewels, and the dark-green feathers which floated from his headdress were powdered with emeralds and pearls. The very soles of his sandals were of pure gold, and the leather thongs were rimmed with gems. He was tall and thin, with regular features, pale complexion, and scanty black beard, and his manner as he greeted the Spanish general was dignified and kingly. Corte's presented Montezuma with a chain of coloured crystals, and advanced to embrace him, but Cuitlahuac, with a look of horror, flung back the outstretched arm of the impious stranger who presumed to touch the sacred person of the emperor.

Greetings exchanged, Montezuma, leaving his nobles to escort the visitors to their quarters, re-entered his palanquin and was borne back to his palace. Along a broad paved avenue, which stretched in a straight line right through the centre of the capital . On one side of a great square rose the mighty temple of Huitzilopotchli, and on the other a pile of low stone buildings, which had been in old days the royal palace, and was now assigned to the Spaniards for their quarters. Here Montezuma was waiting to receive his guests. Placing round the neck of Cortes a curiously wrought collar made of gold and of the shells of crawfish, the emperor with- drew, saying, with gracious courtesy, "This palace belongs to you, Malintzin. Rest after your fatigues, and in a little while I will visit you again."

In spite of the friendly reception, the first care of the Spanish general was to examine and fortify his quarters. Though only one story high, the vast palace easily held the whole army, including the allies. It was encircled by towered walls of massive stone along which Cortes stationed sentinels. At the gates he placed his cannon. This done, the soldiers were allowed to sit down to the sumptuous repast prepared for them by Mexican slaves. Very pleasant and indeed luxurious was their new abode, with tapestry- covered walls and floors strewn with mats or rushes. In the sleeping-rooms were beds of woven palm leaves with coverlets and sometimes canopies of cotton.

The hour of siesta over, the emperor paid his promised visit. He asked many questions as to the king and country of his guests, and showed great courtesy to all the captains, taking care to learn their names, and presenting them ere he retired with magnificent gifts. Each soldier also received two loads of rich mantles. " And all this he did," says Diaz, "in the most free and gracious manner, like a great monarch as he was." All day long the citizens crowded the top of the great temple opposite, eager to catch a glimpse of the strangers. All day long they restlessly walked the street below talking of the portentous beings within their gates. But when darkness fell, and the evening guns thundered for the first time through the city, they turned away shuddering at " the voices of the gods."

In the morning Cortes returned the emperor's visit, taking with him Alvarado, Sandoval, Ordaz, and five of the soldiers, among whom was Bernal Diaz. Montezuma's new palace, which was built of red stone ornamented with marble, was so vast that it contained quarters for a large guard and a great armoury. In a spacious aviary, tended by three hundred slaves, were birds of brilliant plumage, and it was here that much of the feather work was fabricated. Enormous eagles, vultures, and other fierce birds of prey from the snow-clad Andes were in a separate house, and were fed daily with five hundred turkeys. The menagerie of wild animals and reptiles, in roomy houses kept scrupulously clean, seemed to fill the Spaniards with horror rather than with interest. " In this accursed place," says Bernal Diaz, " were poisonous serpents with somewhat in their tails that sounds like castanets. They were kept in vessels filled with feathers where they reared their young. . . . These beasts and horrid reptiles were retained to keep company with their infernal gods, and when these animals yelled and hissed the palace seemed like hell itself."

With more pleasure Diaz speaks of the gardens which were "irrigated by canals of running water and shaded with every variety of tree. In them were baths of cut stone, pavilions for feasting or retirement, and theaters for shows and for the dancers and singers all were kept in the most exact order by a number of laborers constantly employed."

Through many stately rooms with hangings of feather-work exquisite in color and design the Spaniards were led to the audience-chamber where Montezuma awaited his visitors. At the threshold the Aztec officers cast off their sandals, and flinging over their rich garments a robe of coarse nequen made from aloe thread, they entered with deep obeisance the sacred presence. All, save the members of his family, approached the emperor in this humble garb. Montezuma received his guests graciously as ever, placing Cortes at his right hand.

The Spanish general then proceeded to make a valiant attempt to convert the heathen monarch, explaining to him at great length the mysteries of the Christian religion. Faithfully Marina tried to interpret the abstruse doctrines, and then Montezuma, who had listened with the utmost courtesy, replied, " I doubt not that your God is good, but my gods, also, are good to me. It is not worth while to discourse further of the matter." He spoke of Quetzalcoatl and of the belief that the Spaniards were the god's descendants. "You, too," he said in a laughing manner, for he was gay in conversation, " have been told, perhaps, that I am a god and dwell in palaces of gold and silver. But you see I am of mere flesh and blood, and my houses are of lime and stone and timber ! Rest now from your labours, Malintzin you are here in your own dwellings, and your every want shall be supplied."

Attendants then brought forward such rich gifts that each soldier received at least two heavy gold collars for his share. With many expressions of gratitude, Cortes observing that it was past midday, the emperor's dinner hour, took leave. "And on the way home," says Diaz, "we could discourse of nothing but the gentle breeding and courtesy of the Indian monarch."

But when the Spaniards had left him the gracious smiles forsook Montezuma's face. How strong they were, these gods or god-like men ! With what confidence had they spoken of their lord who ruled the world, and their God whom they wished to make all men worship. A foreboding of coming evil which he was powerless to avert possessed the emperor as he flung himself moodily on his luxurious cushions. He took all his meals in solitary state, for his numerous wives lived in their own apartments, and only appeared when summoned by their master. His attendants, barefooted and in robes of nequen, were yet nobles of the highest rank. They now placed around him a screen of carved wood embossed with gold, and covered with a white cloth the low table at his side. Four beautiful women presented, on bended knee, water in a silver basin for the emperor's hands, and towels of the finest cotton. Then from the hundreds of dishes placed on the matted floor Montezuma chose which he would have. The plates, which were of fine red and black Cholulan china, were given away at the end of every meal to the attendants. The fish, which was served first, came fresh every day from the Gulf of Mexico. The meats, which were kept hot in chafing-dishes, were dressed in a great variety of ways, for the Aztecs were well versed in the art of cooking. To the four ancient lords who stood at a respectful distance Montezuma gave from time to time " as a mark of particular favour a plate of that which he was eating."

In the Old Palace meanwhile Spaniard and Tlascalan, rejoicing in the rest and good fare, took no thought for the morrow. Not so their general. Ever gay and confident in manner, he realized clearly the peril of his position in the heart of a fortified and perhaps hostile city. His first care must be to inspect the town and its strongholds, and for this he requested the emperor's permission. Readily consenting, Montezuma detailed four nobles as guides. With a flourish of trumpets and drums, cavalry and infantry marched into the great square. Crowds of citizens had assembled to gaze once more on the strangers.

Many women of both high and low degree mingled freely among the men. They all wore several embroidered petticoats of different lengths, a chemise matching the skirts, and a bright-colored scarf crossed like a fichu at the throat, and hanging down with tasseled ends almost to the feet. They had no veils or any kind of head- dress save a simple fillet of flowers which caught back their dark and flowing tresses. The richer ladies wore a loose mantle over their embroidered The streets through which the Spaniards passed were watered and swept daily by a thousand laborers, and were so clean that " a man could walk through them with as little danger of soiling his feet as his hands."

The canals were used as highways with paths of pavement on either side. It was market-day in Mexico, and the Aztec nobles led the way to the busy square, where the Spaniards stood astonished at the multitude of people and the regularity which prevailed. Nowhere in Europe, not even in Rome or Constantinople, had they seen a market-place so vast, so skillfully laid out, and so well managed. ' The entire square was enclosed in piazzas, under which great quantities of grain were stored and where were also shops." Every merchant had his particular place, which was distinguished by a sign.

Goldsmiths, jewelers, potters, furniture-makers, feather-work artists, sculptors, all were there. In one of the deep porticoes hung beautiful fabrics and robes. In another, and here the Spaniards gazed long, were exhibited weapons and armor, all of copper, stone, or tin, for the use of iron was still unknown to the Aztecs. Out of the same stone, which formed the blades of the deadly maquahuitl, razors and even mirrors were manufactured. Here and there were booths where busy barbers plied their trade, or chemists sold their healing drugs. One quarter of the market was reserved for provisions, and here were the hunters with their game, and the fishermen carrying their fish caught that day in the fresh waters of Lake Chalco or in the silvery mountain streams.

Here too were delicious fruits, green vegetables, and gorgeous flowers. Tables with pastry, bread, cakes and cups of chocolate or pulque, the aloe-wine, tempted the passer-by. In another quarter were live animals for sale, and near them gangs of miserable slaves. The Aztecs sold according to number or measure, and their currency consisted of bits of tin stamped with a letter like T bags of cacao, and quills filled with gold dust.

A court of justice was held in the market-place, where to all caught cheating summary punishment was meted out by the policemen who patrolled the square. The soldiers, fascinated by the sights around them, were loath to leave, but Cortes was informed that the emperor awaited them in the great Temple of Huitzilopotchli.

Retracing their steps, the Spaniards came to the "wall of serpents," sculptured in stone, which surrounded the vast quadrangle in which lay this mighty temple a city within a city. Four turreted gate- ways with arsenals above and barracks beside them opened into the four principal streets. In the great central courtyard, where the horses slipped at every step on the polished stone pavement, the cavaliers dismounted and gazed curiously around them. Lanes branched off in every direction leading to the numerous buildings which filled the vast enclosure. There were granaries, storehouses, and gardens, so that the temple inhabitants could in time of need be self-supporting. There were houses for the priests and for the priestesses schools where boys were taught picture-writing, astronomy, and above all, the ceremonies of their religion and traditions of their race while the girls learned the arts of weaving and embroidery.

There were several teocallis or sacred turrets, and on their flat roofs flamed the never-dying fires. But high above all other buildings towered in the center of the quadrangle the great teocalli of Huitzilopotchli. This mighty structure was solid and made of earth and pebbles, the whole coated with hewn stone. It was shaped like a pyramid, and its four sides faced north, south, east, and west. It was en-circled by five terraces, each one smaller than the one below. A flight of steps led from the ground to the first terrace, round which the pilgrim must pass to gain the steps leading upward. The fifth and last platform could only be reached by passing four times around the pyramid. This laborious ascent had been devised to add to the magnificence of the religious festivals. The procession of priests with their banners and music winding slowly round and round the great teocalli to reach the shrine on its summit must have been a gorgeous spectacle to the people in the streets below.

Refusing the offer of the Aztec priests to carry him up, Cortes with Doila Marina and his captains climbed to the summit, where Montezuma received him with kindly courtesy. "You are weary, Malintzin, with the ascent," said the emperor. "To the Spaniards," replied Cortes vauntingly, " fatigue is unknown ! " At one end of the smooth-paved summit were two towers with the shrines and images of the gods in front of each blazed its altar fire. At the other end was the jasper stone of sacrifice, and the huge drum of serpents' skins struck only in a time of great triumph or danger.

Montezuma and Cortes behold Tenochtitlan

Montezuma then took Cortes by the hand and told him to look at the wonderful view below. There lay the city with its crowded streets and canals, glittering temples, flower-crowned palaces, and the three great white causeways which stretched far across the dancing waters of the lake to the northern, southern, and western shores. To the west rose cypress-covered Chapoltepec, " the grasshoppers' hill," crowned with the emperor's country palace. From here was carried across the lake in a skillfully constructed aqueduct Mexico's supply of pure water. In the south gleamed Lake Chalco. Far on the horizon stood out against the deep blue sky the white peaks of the volcanoes.

For long did Cortes gaze at the symmetrical plan of the city, but turning at last to the emperor he asked permission to enter the two-towered chapels.

Montezuma at once led his guests to the shrine of Huitzilopotchli, a huge idol with a great face and terrible eyes. He was bedecked with jewels round his body coiled golden serpents, and on his neck was a chain strung alternately with golden hearts and silver heads. In his right hand he held a bow, in his left a sheaf of golden arrows. Beside him stood his page, a little idol bearing his lance and shield.

On the altar were three bleeding hearts torn from the victims of that day's sacrifice the walls and floor were dark with human blood. In the other tower was the image of Tezcat, the " Soul of the World." This was an idol of polished black marble covered with golden ornaments, with mirrors for eyes, and a shield of burnished gold in which he saw reflected all the doings of the world.

Here too lay offerings of human hearts, and "the stench was more intolerable," says the old chronicler, " than that of all the slaughter-houses of Castile ! " Even to the god of the harvest, a figure half- alligator, half-man, said to contain the germ and origin of all created things, the Aztecs had made bloody sacrifice. " We thought," says Bernal Diaz, "we never could get out soon enough, and I devoted them and all their wickedness to God's vengeance." "

I do not know, my Lord Montezuma," exclaimed Cortes, " how so great a king and so learned a man as you are should not have collected in his thoughts that these idols are not gods, but devils ? If you will but permit us to erect here the true cross, and place the images of the blessed Virgin and her Son in your sanctuaries, you will soon see how your false gods will shrink before them ! "

But at the words Montezuma's face grew dark, and the priests scowled blackly at the impious stranger. With much dignity the emperor replied, "My Lord Malinche, these are the gods who have led the Aztecs on to victory since they were a nation, and who send the seed-time and the harvest in their seasons. Had I thought you would have offered them this outrage I would not have admitted you into their presence." Gladly the Christians turned to descend, but Montezuma remained behind to expiate by sacrifice his sin in permitting the strangers to enter the shrines.

The temple of Quetzalcoatl

Among the smaller teocallis in the courtyard below was one to which Cortes turned with some curiosity, for it was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl. But even the worship of the Fair God, who had forbidden human sacrifice, had been profaned by the blood- thirsty priests. The tower, which was round, had an entrance in imitation of a dragon's mouth, and its horrid fangs were dripping with human blood. Glancing down the throat the Spaniards saw within the ghastly instruments of sacrifice, and they christened the hateful place henceforth as " hell."

Passing by a wooden pyramid strung with thousands of skulls, the Christians breathed a sigh of relief as the great gate in the serpents' wall closed behind them, and they found themselves once more in the gay and busy street. It was with gloomy faces that they returned to their quarters in the old palace. They had seen the strength of the city, and they had seen the horrors of its religion. It was the sights in the great temple which sobered the faces of the rank and file. If any disaster came to their little force each soldier saw before him the dreadful fate of the victim.

To cheer and occupy his men, Cortes on the following day ordered one of the halls in the Old Palace to be transformed into a Christian chapel While at work the soldiers noticed that part of the wall had been newly plastered over. Pulling down the plaster, they found a door concealed beneath. It was quick work to force it open, and there before their dazzled eyes lay masses of gold, silver, jewels, and costly fabrics ! It was Montezuma's treasure- room of which they had heard vague rumours. " I was a young man," says Bernal Diaz, " and it seemed to me as if all the riches of the world were in that room ! " But Cortes, who was not yet prepared to risk offending the emperor, ordered the door to be closed up once more, and forbade the soldiers to speak of their discovery.

Day and night the Spanish general studied with anxious care the possibilities and dangers of his strange position. Well he knew that on his action depended the lives of all his men. While in Cholula bad news had come to him from the settlement on the coast, but fearing to dishearten the soldiers on the very eve of their entrance into Mexico, he had until now concealed the painful story. Juan de Escalante, whom he had left as command- ant of the garrison at Vera Cruz, had received, soon after the departure of Cortes, a message from an Aztec chief named Quauhpopoca, begging that four Spaniards might be sent to escort him to the Spanish settlement. He wished to give in his allegiance to the white men, but feared to venture to their town without protection. The four soldiers were dispatched, and found to their horror that the request was but a treacherous ruse. Two of them were murdered in cold blood, but the other two managed to escape to Vera Cruz.

With fifty of his men and several thousand Totonac allies, Escalante marched at once to take vengeance on the Aztec chief. In the fierce fight which followed the Totonac allies fled, and the Spaniards would surely have suffered defeat but for " the aid of the blessed Virgin who was distinctly seen hovering over their ranks in the van." They were at length victorious, but at great cost. One Spaniard was captured alive by the enemy, and seven, including Escalante himself, died of their wounds. To the great Montezuma the Indian prisoners attributed the hostile action of their chieftain, and to the emperor had been sent the head of the captured white man.

As Cortes pondered the painful story he felt sure that Montezuma's present hospitality was but a mask to conceal some dark design. At any moment he might turn on his unwelcome guests, and even if by force of arms he could not subdue them, he might yet by cutting off retreat starve them to death in the midst of his island city. Only in one way could the Spanish general frustrate possible treachery and insure the safety of his little band. Calling a council of his officers Cortes listened to all their suggestions. But no plan seemed to save the critical situation. Then he himself proposed a scheme, so daring, so extraordinary, that all were startled. This was, to seize and hold as a hostage the great Montezuma himself ! " Impossible ! " cried some. " To what end ? " asked others. But the general, self-confident and sure as ever, calmed their fears and gave his reasons.

He himself would entice the emperor into Spanish quarters. Once there, so strongly fortified was the Old Palace, it would be easy to hold the royal prisoner. The Mexicans would fear to attack or to starve the Spaniards, lest by so doing they should imperil the sacred person of their monarch. The trappings and show of empire should still remain to Montezuma, but in reality his keepers would rule the land. It was a bold plan, and the soldiers, blindly trusting the general who had never yet failed them, gave their assent.

The night was passed in prayer that Heaven might smile upon the deed of the morrow. But Cortes, through all the hours of darkness, was heard restlessly pacing up and down his chamber rapt in his schemes for the future. In the morning the whole army was drawn up in the courtyard ready to sally forth at the first alarm. Several detachments of picked men sauntered along the streets leading to Montezuma's palace, as if they were merely viewing the city. Thirty of them were ordered to wander as if by chance into the grounds of the palace itself. Then Cortes set out to visit the emperor, who had consented to receive him. He was attended by Dona Marina and by five of his most dare-devil cavaliers, Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Sandoval, Francisco de Lujo, Velasquez de Leon, and Alonzo de Avila.

Courteously and even gaily Montezuma welcomed his guests. At the entrance of these august strangers whom the emperor delighted to honor, his attendants retired with deep obeisance. In friendly talk the time slipped by, but just as the Aztec was explaining his favorite game, the Spanish general, with an abrupt change of manner, stepped forward and sternly accused him of having instigated the treacherous assault on the garrison at Vera Cruz. The startled monarch, eagerly denying the charge, took from a bracelet at his wrist his signet, the image of Huitzilopotchli, and calling one of his attendants, ordered that the guilty cacique should be summoned at once to Mexico. In gentler tones Corte's thanked the emperor, and declared that he was now quite satisfied as to his innocence. " My companions in arms, however," he added, "will not be convinced of your good faith unless you will deign to prove it by taking up your abode in our quarters until the affair is quite cleared up by the arrival of Quauhpopoca from the coast." Aghast the monarch listened to this extraordinary proposal.

Finding his voice at length, he exclaimed, "When was it ever heard that a great prince, like myself, voluntarily left his own palace to become a prisoner in the hands of strangers ? " " Not a prisoner," replied Corte's, "your own court and household shall be round you. You shall exercise your kingly power as usual. It will be but a change of residence, and you will have Spaniards to serve you as well as your own people." In vain the Spanish general argued and entreated. Montezuma was not to be persuaded. " Never would my subjects," he said proudly, "consent to such a degradation!" Then as the voice of Corte's grew sterner and more insistent, the wretched king, made a coward by his superstitious fears, pleaded, " Spare me this disgrace ! Take as hostages one of my sons and one of my daughters ! " Time was passing, and the Spaniards, anxious lest a rumor of their attempt should reach the royal guard, grew impatient. Leon at last, tall and stalwart, with a great red beard and a rough, fierce voice, drew his sword, exclaiming, " Why waste words on this barbarian ! In Christ's name, let him yield himself our prisoner, or we will this instant plunge our swords in his body ! " At the word the other captains advanced with naked blades, and Montezuma terrified, turned to Marina for an explanation of the fierce words and gestures. "

Go with the white men ! " cried the girl eagerly. " If you yield they will treat you kindly if you refuse, they will kill you ! " One last piteous, hunted look the emperor cast around him. Gleaming swords, iron mail, and the stern faces of the strangers hemmed him in. De- sparingly he murmured, " The gods have abandoned me! I will go with you." With deep respect the captain now addressed the unhappy monarch, and Cortes declared that none should ever hear of the humiliating scene. Montezuma, tortured with shame at his own weakness, assented gladly to the suggestion that his visit to the Old Palace should appear to be entirely by his own free will.

Ordering his palanquin, he sent for his chief nobles, and told them that the gods had advised him to go and abide for a time with the Strange was the procession which now passed through the crowded streets. The royal palanquin surrounded by an escort of Spaniards ! Three squares and three bridges had been passed when there arose a sullen murmur in the crowd. A whisper grew that the emperor was a prisoner ! The murmur swelled into a tumult. The people blocked the way, calling to their monarch and threatening the strangers. Unarmed as they were, they would yet by mere force of numbers have rescued their lord, but even as they threatened, the curtains of the palanquin were drawn aside, and Montezuma in a calm, clear voice demanded the cause of their clamor. A sudden silence fell upon the crowd, the people sank to their knees and listened as to the voice of a god.

"Return in peace to your homes' said the emperor. " Of my own free will I am visiting my trusted friends ! " Bewildered and abashed the Aztecs fell back, and the Spaniards passed on their way unmolested. So in the very heart of his capital, from the midst of a devoted people who would have given their life's blood to save him, with his warriors within call, the Aztec emperor was carried through the gates of the Old Palace a prisoner. Montezuma was received, as Cortes had promised, with the utmost deference. His apartments were furnished with every luxury, and he was attended by his favorite wives and pages. He was free to receive his subjects and to transact the business of the empire. But well did he know that in spite of all this pomp and ceremony he was a captive. Only a limited number of Aztecs were admitted at one time, and day and night a guard kept watch at the gates and also in the emperor's antechamber. So wearisome even to the tireless Spaniards became this ceaseless watching, that a soldier at Montezuma's door exclaimed bitterly one day, " Better this dog of a king should die than that we should wear out our lives in this manner ! " The man was punished, but the incident increased the emperor's anxiety to escape from his veiled bondage.

And now arrived Quauhpopoca from the coast accompanied by his son and fifteen nobles, in obedience to the messenger with the royal signet. Humbly clad in nequen the chieftain entered the presence of the emperor, bowing to the ground with the usual salutation, " Lord, my lord, great lord ! " He was received with haughty displeasure, and told that as his offence had been against the Spaniards, the Spanish general should judge him. Montezuma hoped by this act to propitiate his jailers and win his freedom.

With great dignity the chieftain bore himself before his alien judge, confessing at once that he had plotted to overthrow the white strangers in Vera Cruz, since he considered them to be the enemies of his country. In grim silence Corte's listened, and then passed his ghastly sentence. The cacique with his son and the fifteen nobles were to be immediately burnt alive in front of the palace. With Montezuma's permission the arsenals of the great temple were despoiled, and the arms and missiles piled high in the courtyard of the Old Palace. Here, in the blaze of their country's weapons, the Aztec nobles bravely met their death. Just before the execution Cortes entered the emperor's apartment followed by a soldier carrying fetters. Sternly he told his prisoner that the cacique had declared before his death that Montezuma had ordered the assault. Then, commanding the soldier to fasten the fetters on the shrinking monarch, the general strode away. Racked with humiliation, the once great Montezuma lay in silence amid his weeping attendants, who strove to wedge their garments between the irons and their master's feet. So broken in spirit he seemed that he did not even resent this last degradation, but actually thanked Cortes when he reappeared and removed with his own hands the shameful bonds.

With "honeyed words" the Spaniard expressed his deep regret that he had been obliged to punish one whom he loved as a brother. Horrible to modern minds seems this cruel execution of seventeen men, whose only fault was obedience to their emperor and love of their country. But the old conquerors themselves did not for a moment question the morality or humanity of the sentence. The life of an Indian and a heathen was almost worthless in their eyes, and even in this dark deed they felt that God was their guide. " As soon as this chastisement was known," says Bernal Diaz, "it struck universal terror, and the people on the coast returned to their submission. Now, let the curious consider upon our heroic actions ! . . . Now I am old, I say that it was not we who did these things, but that all was guided by the hand of God, for what men on earth would otherwise have ventured, their numbers not amounting to four hundred and fifty, to have seized and put in irons a mighty monarch, and publicly burned his officers for obeying his orders, in a city larger than Venice, and at a distance of a thousand and five hundred leagues from their native country ! ! ! "

One day followed another, and still the emperor of the Aztecs remained a prisoner in the hands of his guests. He was treated with all honour, and seemed often to forget his degradation in some new interest or pleasure. He was attended always by Orteguilla, a page of the general's, who had already learnt to speak Aztec. He loved to watch the soldiers at their military drill, and soon learned to know all the captains and many of the men. On his favourites, and especially on Leon, the captain of his guard, he delighted to bestow princely gifts. His favorite game was totoloque, in which the players aimed with golden balls at a golden target. He declared gaily one day that Tonatiuh must not score, as "he did not say that which was true," at which "we all," says Diaz, "burst out laughing, because Alvarado was a little addicted to exaggeration ! "

Once when Cortes would have punished a soldier who had stolen a cup from the royal treasury, now reopened, Montezuma intervened. "Your countrymen," he said, "are welcome to the gold, if you will but spare what belongs to the gods." But at times his captivity seemed to prey on the emperor's mind, and bitter grew the thought that he could not even worship at the shrines of his gods.

Cortes, not daring to show the Aztec people too plainly that Montezuma was a prisoner, promised at last to allow him to visit the great temple, with a warning that if there was any attempt at a rescue his life would pay the forfeit. With banners and music a splendid procession of nobles and courtiers left the gates of the Old Palace. In the midst was the royal palanquin, surrounded by Spanish captains and followed by a hundred and fifty picked Spaniards in battle array. Sullen and puzzled were the faces of the multitude who prostrated themselves as the emperor passed. At the teocalli priests were waiting to carry up their lord, but in front and at the rear tramped a guard of the mailed strangers. Four times as it wound its way upward did this unwonted procession, Aztec priest and white-skinned warrior, pass before the somber gaze of the kneeling throngs below. To prevent human sacrifice Father Olmedo was at the emperor's side, but his efforts were in vain, for on the preceding night four victims had been offered to the gods in Montezuma's name.

His devotions fulfilled, the Aztec monarch was borne peaceably back to the Old Palace through his silent, watchful subjects, who at his slightest sign or word would have torn him from his jailers. Cortes, meanwhile, was carefully making his plans. He recognized the importance of his settlement in the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, and was anxious to appoint in the place of Escalante a man of tact who would maintain peaceful relations with the Indians. For this purpose he chose Alonzo de Grado, an indifferent soldier, but a handsome, talented man and something of an orator. The general, who seemed to have had some scorn for this fine gentleman, said to him in parting : " Now, Senor de Grado, go and possess your wishes you are commandant of Villa Rica, and see that you fortify it well, and mind I charge you on no account to go out and fight the wicked Indians, nor let them kill you as they did Juan de Escalante." This, Bernal Diaz tells us, Cortes said ironically, knowing the condition of the man, and that all the world could not have got him to put his nose out of the town ! For once the general had made a mistake. De Grado paid no attention to the fortifications, but spent his time in feasting and in scheming against his leader with the adherents of Velasquez.

His fall was speedy. Sandoval arrived one day as new commandant, with orders to arrest De Grado and send him prisoner to Mexico. A very different man was Sandoval. Only about twenty-two years of age, he was felt by all to be absolutely reliable and trust- worthy. " He was a plain man and one who did not know much of letters, not avaricious of gold, but attentive to his business like a good officer, seeing that his soldiers did their duty well and taking good care of them. He was robust in body, his legs rather bowed, and his countenance masculine his voice was rough and somewhat terrible, and he stammered a little. . . . He had the best horse that ever was seen a chestnut, with a star in his fore- head, and his near foot white, his name was Motilla and the old soldier concludes his description of this officer so loved by his men with the proud words : "Sandoval was an officer fit for any station !"

The new commandant soon made himself very popular with the natives by his affability and humanity, and immediately began to put the fort into proper repair. Very promptly he executed his orders to send to Mexico a supply of ironwork, cordage, and sails for the construction of two ships.

The general's greatest anxiety was the fact that the Aztecs could at any time cut off all communications and all supplies, and hold the Spaniards prisoners within the city. He had resolved, therefore, to build two vessels large enough to carry the army across the lake. Fortunately he had among his men a skilled ship-builder named Martin Lopez. Montezuma, who consented to have timber brought from the royal forests, took a child-like pleasure in watching the construction of the vessels. From Orteguilla, whose duty it was to keep the emperor amused and in good humor, Cortes learned that he had a desire to go hunting in the forest.

The Spanish ships were now finished, and the general offered to convey Montezuma and his suite in the wonderful water-houses to the woods across the lake. He hoped that a day in the open country would make the captive seem indeed a guest. In the swiftest ship embarked with the emperor and his retinue Leon, Alvarado, De Oli, and Avila, " all men who had blood in their eyes," two hundred soldiers and artillery-men with four brass guns. The guest was well attended. The wind blew very fresh, and the ship with the flag of Spain waving from its mast seemed to fly across the lake, leaving the native canoes far behind. Well might the Aztecs shudder as over the waters thundered the "voices of the gods."

The forest, which was strictly preserved, abounded in game such as deer, hares, and rabbits. A good archer the emperor proved, and for long the hunt continued, but wherever he roamed the Spaniard was at his side to remind him that the apparent liberty of the forest would assuredly end in the guarded chamber of the palace.

In his stately city on the eastern border of the great salt lake, Cacama, son the late Nezahualpilli , king of Tezcuco and nephew of Montezuma, brooded with dark suspicion on his uncle's prolonged stay in the quarters of the strangers. Surely he must be a captive ! Never of his own free will would the emperor of the Aztecs consent to such a humiliating position. Cacama resolved to raise the great lords of the empire to rescue their monarch, even against his will, from the hands of the white men.

Montezuma's brother, Cuitlahuac, the lord of Iztapalapan, his nephew Guatemozin, and the lord of the allied state of Tlacopan, readily consented to aid in the attempt. Ever on the watch, Cortes ere long heard of these plots which were being hatched on the opposite shore of the lake, and strong in the complete sway he had acquired over the mind of Montezuma, he sent a haughty message to the young king of Tezcuco, warning him to beware of the people of the monarch of Spain, the ruler of all the world. Equally haughty was Cacama's reply, "I acknowledge no such authority. I know nothing of the Spanish sovereign nor his people ! "

Even a summons from Montezuma to appear before him at the Old Palace did not move the resolute young king, though the emperor's slightest wish had ever been law to all his subjects. But well Cacama knew that his uncle was now a mere tool of the Spaniards, and bold as before was his answer, " When I visit the capital it will be to rescue it, the emperor, and our common gods from bondage. I will come, not with my hand in my bosom, but on my sword, to drive out the detested strangers who have brought such dishonor on our country."

Now there were certain Tezcucan nobles in the pay of Montezuma, and at the bidding of Corte's, the wretched emperor actually commanded these traitors to seize his nephew their king, by fair means or foul, and send him to Mexico. To a lonely house over- hanging the lake Cacama was enticed, and then suddenly seized, bound hand and foot, flung into a canoe, and borne swiftly across the water to Mexico. As a criminal he was brought before Montezuma, but proud and brave as ever, he would make no effort to win favor from the Spaniards, and boldly accused his uncle of treachery and cowardice. Loaded with fetters he was thrown into a dungeon, and his younger brother was proclaimed, by order of the emperor, king of Tezcuco.

By this same wondrous talisman, the command of the great Montezuma, Cortes was able to capture also the lord of Tlacopan, and Cuitlahuac the lord of Iztapalapan, with others who were suspected of sharing in Cacama's plot. The Spaniards now began to feel as if this fair land of Mexico really belonged to them, for was not its all-powerful emperor a mere puppet in their hands ? Parties sent out to explore the country and to search for gold found that the much-coveted metal was gathered from the beds of rivers some hundreds of miles away.

So secure was Corte's in his position as dictator to the emperor that he actually dared to diminish his small force. Velasquez de Leon was dispatched with a hundred and fifty men to found another colony and fort on the shores of the Atlantic about sixty leagues south of the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. Surely now the time had come, thought Corte's, when he might safely demand from Montezuma a public sign of vassalage to the Spanish emperor. What a triumph to write to Charles V. that an unknown adventurer had won as a new vassal to Spain the monarch of a rich and mighty empire !

To the Old Palace came at Montezuma's summons all his princes and chief lords. Then in a voice broken by sobs their monarch addressed them. He spoke of the coming of Quetzalcoatl and his descendants from the land of the rising sun. The prediction had been fulfilled. The white strangers had sailed from the east over the ocean to claim the land of their sire. The Aztecs must not seek to resist the gods. "You have been faithful vassals of mine," said the emperor, "during the many years that I have sat on the throne of my fathers. I now expect that you will show me this last act of obedience by acknowledging the great king beyond the waters to be your lord, and that you will pay him tribute in the same manner as you have hitherto done to me."

The emperor's will was law. In silent bitterness each noble took the oath of allegiance to Don Carlos of Spain, while the Spanish notary recorded the curious ceremony. So intense seemed the distress of the Aztecs at the act of humiliation that "even though it was in the regular way of our own business," says Bernal Diaz, "there was not a Spaniard who could look on the spectacle with a dry eye." To show that the Mexicans were vassals in deed as well as word, Corte's at once sent Montezuma's tax-gatherers throughout all Anahuac to collect tribute for the Spanish emperor. As his own share the Aztec monarch gave all the riches of his treasure-chamber.

In twenty days the collectors returned and the tribute was piled in the courtyard of the Old Palace. As Cortes gazed on the shining heaps of gold-dust, the bars of gold and silver, the ornaments, the feather -work, the ingenious toys and trinkets, he exclaimed, "Surely it is a treasure such as no monarch in Europe can boast ! " " I regret," said Montezuma, " that it is not larger, but it is somewhat diminished by my former gifts. Take it, Malintzin, and let it be recorded in your annals that Montezuma sent this present to your master."

And now the soldiers began to clamour for an immediate division of the spoil. The treasures were counted and valued, and some of the larger ornaments taken to pieces by Mexican goldsmiths. The value was reckoned at about one million four hundred and seventeen thousand pounds sterling in our own currency. Equally divided, the share of each soldier would have been over three thousand pounds. But one -fifth had to be deducted for the Crown and another fifth for the general. Then the expenses of the expedition had to be defrayed, compensation given for the loss of killed horses, and a portion set aside for the men left behind in Villa Rica. To the cavaliers, crossbowmen, and musketeers had been promised a double share. " Thus," says Bernal Diaz, with hot indignation, "by the time all these drafts were made, what remained for each soldier was hardly worth stooping for ! " " Is it for this," cried the men with all the fury of balked greed, "that we left our homes and families, periled our lives, submitted to fatigue and famine, and all for so contemptible a pittance ? Better to have stayed in Cuba, and contented ourselves with the gains of a safe and easy traffic. When we gave up our share of the gold at Vera Cruz, it was on the assurance that we should be amply requited in Mexico. We have, indeed, found the riches we expected but no sooner seen, than they are snatched from us by the very men who pledged us their faith ! " All the general's consummate tact, all the magic of his winning tongue, and the power of his personality were needed to calm these men almost ripe for mutiny.

The division, he declared, had been perfectly fair. If they thought his own share was too much he was willing to divide it with the poorest soldier. " This treasure," he went on, " is nothing to what we shall gain in the future when the whole country with its rich mines is ours. But never shall we possess this empire while we are divided against ourselves." The soldiers were pacified at last, and consoled themselves with "deep gaming, day and night, with cards made out of the heads of drums." The holy Virgin and the saints had been ever with the adventurers, who now felt that as Christians they ought to brave any danger to plant the true cross if possible in the very sanctuaries of the abominable idols.

Cortes, with several of his cavaliers, formally requested Montezuma to deliver up to them the great teocalli itself, that they might worship their God openly in the sight of the whole city. Horror-struck at the very suggestion, Montezuma exclaimed piteously, " Why, Malintzin, why will you urge matters to an extremity that must surely bring down the vengeance of our gods, and stir up an insurrection among my people, who will never endure this profanation of their temples."

Dismissing his officers, Corte's, left alone with the emperor, bent him as usual to his will. He promised, however, not to insult the shrines of the Aztec gods if one of the sanctuaries on the great teocalli was given to him for a Christian chapel. "But," he added threateningly, "if this request is refused, we will roll down the images of your false gods in the face of the city. We fear not for our lives, for, though our numbers are few, the arm of the true God is over us." Shrinkingly the Aztec emperor gave his sanction, and the priests were ordered to leave free for the Teules one of these most sacred sanctuaries of their gods.

Much had the Aztec people borne, at their emperor's command, from these insolent strangers, but when they saw a procession of white men mount the sacred summit to celebrate in the very shrine of an Aztec god their own religion, their fury knew no bounds. With disgust and scorn the Aztec priests looked on the flower-decked crucifix and image of the Virgin which had ousted their glittering, blood- stained god, and with wild chants and ceremonies they strove to rouse still more the temper of their people.

Message after message was sent to Montezuma that no longer would his subjects brook the presence of the impious white men. The Spaniards had gone too far. From the emperor's altered manner Cortes divined that trouble was in the air. The almost cringing subservience of the Aztec had given place to cold, abstracted reserve. He conferred much with his nobles and the priests, and the little page Orteguilla who could speak Aztec was not suffered to be present at these meetings. At last came a summons to Montezuma's apartments. Escorted by some of his chief cavaliers, Cortes, grave and anxious, obeyed the unwonted request. The emperor, who had regained some measure of his old kingly dignity, spoke in firm, impressive tones, "The gods of my country," he said, "offended by the violation of their temple, have threatened that they will forsake the city if the sacrilegious strangers are not sacrificed on their altars or driven at once from the land of Anahuac. I am your friend and do not wish for bloodshed. Leave the country therefore without delay. I have only to raise my finger and every Aztec in the land will rise in arms against you ! "

With well-concealed consternation Cortes listened to these unwelcome words, but his reply was guarded and courteous. " I much regret two things, my lord. One is, that if I leave in such precipitation I shall be obliged to take your Majesty with me. The other, that we cannot all return immediately, as our ships were destroyed when we first landed on your territory. Wherefore we must build others, and I should be obliged if you would give us labourers to cut and work the wood. I myself have ship- builders, and when the vessels are completed we will take our departure."

To so reasonable a request Montezuma could not refuse his consent, and he undertook to restrain the fury of his people until the ships were finished. Labourers and the Spanish shipwrights were at once dispatched to the coast, but Cortes gave secret orders to Martin Lopez to delay the work as much as possible. He hoped that time might bring a turn of fortune and that reinforcements might arrive from Europe.

So the Spaniards kept their quarters in the Old Palace, and kept too their royal prisoner. But the triumphant sense of owning the country was theirs no more. Sullen, threatening looks met them in the streets, and every moment they expected an attack. Constant watch and guard were kept as if in a siege, the soldiers never sleeping out of their armor. " Without meaning to boast," says old Diaz, " I may say of myself that my armor was as easy to me as the softest down, and such is my custom, that when I now go the rounds of my district, I never take a bed with me unless I happen to be accompanied by strange cavaliers, in which case I do it only to avoid the appearance of poverty, but, by my faith, even when I have one I always throw myself on it in my clothes such it is to be a true soldier !

It was the month of May 1520. More than a year had gone swiftly by since the adventurers on a cool, clear February day first set sail from Cuba. Strange had been their adventures and strenuous their deeds, and now for six months they had been quartered in the very heart of a mighty and hostile city, its king their prisoner in all but name. Rumours of their startling success and of the treasure ship sent to Spain had come to the ears of Velasquez, and inflamed still further his bitter resentment against Cortes. He resolved to spare neither time nor money in equipping a fleet and army strong enough to annihilate the force of his rebellious officer and to conquer the golden Mexico.

All Cuba was alive with the bustle of preparation, and the hammers of the shipwrights resounded on many a quivering plank. Eighteen ships were fitted out and nine hundred men, allured by lavish promises of reward, enlisted under the Governor's banner. Of these, eighty were horsemen and eighty gunners. It was an armada of which Velasquez felt justly proud, and he decided at first to take the command himself. But with advancing years he had grown too stout to ride and fight, and he felt also that he could not, like any knight-errant, wander from Cuba his own colony.

Yet to whom could he entrust this expedition on which all his hopes were set ? He chose at last a captain named Narvaez, a tall, red-bearded man with a lordly bearing. A good horseman and valiant soldier, he was yet a braggart and utterly without foresight and judgment. Rash and careless of the feelings and safety of his soldiers, he lacked altogether that personal magnetism which made Cortes a born leader of men.

In the end of April the expedition anchored off the sandy coast of St. Juan de Ulua. A Spaniard sent by Corte's on a roving errand in search of gold, wildly excited at the sight of the armada, hastened to meet his countrymen. To Narvaez he gave a glowing account of the great achievements of his commander. "Cortes rules over the land like its own sovereign," he declared, "so that a Spaniard may travel unarmed from one end of the country to the other without insult or injury." With amazement and righteous wrath Narvaez listened to the story, and resolved to build a settlement without loss of time and summon Villa Rica to surrender. Pig-headed and arrogant, he would listen to no advice, but pitched his camp on the very spot which Cortes had found so unhealthy. A priest and four soldiers dispatched to Villa Rica received short shrift from stout-hearted Sandoval, who refused to allow them even to read their proclamation to the garrison. When they waxed insolent, they were without more ado seized and bound on the back of Indian tamanes, who instantly set out for Mexico accompanied by a guard of twenty Spaniards. The bewildered men, "hardly knowing if they were dead or alive, or if it was not all enchantment," were borne post-haste day and night by fresh relays of Indians, until at the end of four days they reached the salt waters of Lake Tezcuco.

But swift as was the journey, news of the arrival of a strong force of Spaniards on the coast had reached the ears of Cortes while the tamanes and their burden were still on the road. In every corner of his great empire Montezuma had watchful spies, and hardly had Narvaez landed ere couriers were bearing to Mexico a full account in picture-writing of the numbers and equipment of these new visitors. After some hesitation the emperor told the news to Cortes. The white men, he declared, need now no longer wait on the tardy shipbuilders. They could return in the vessels of their countrymen, and the empire would be free from the burden of their presence.

Montezuma spoke as if Cortes would now be certain to depart, but his face was pale and troubled, for he feared in his heart that the coming of reinforcements would encourage the iron general to remain and finish his grim work of robbery and desecration. " Blessed be the Redeemer for His mercies ! " exclaimed Corte's, and little did the emperor suspect that he viewed the fresh arrival with equal anxiety. Well the Spaniard knew that no such armada could have been sent out from Spain in so short a time. It had been equipped for his undoing by the venomous zeal of the Governor of Cuba. One of the soldiers of the escort soon appeared with a letter from Sandoval confirming his worst fears the guard was outside the city waiting to hear the general's will. Cortes at once ordered that the prisoners should be unbound, mounted, and brought to the Old Palace in honorable fashion. The Aztecs must not suspect that the Spaniards were divided against themselves or see the humiliation of a white man. On these envoys of Narvaez, therefore, was lavished every honor and courtesy, and under such treatment they soon became the firm friends of so generous a commander. Cortes was quick to gather from his guests that the common soldiers had not come, like Narvaez, to punish a rebel, but to gain gold, and might therefore be easily induced, by the hope of reward, to desert the cause of Velasquez. He gave the envoys a letter to Narvaez begging him to lay aside all hostility, and then he "anointed their fingers so plentifully with gold that though they came like roaring lions they went back like lambs." Father Olmedo was dispatched later, ostensibly to bear another letter proffering friendship, but with secret orders to win the officers and men to the interests of Cortes. Both letters were received by Narvaez with derision and abuse, and one of the captains declared loudly, " As to this rebel Cortes, I will cut off his ears and broil them for breakfast ! " Far different was the attitude of the soldiers, who listened greedily to their comrades as they spoke of the splendor and generosity of Cortes. Father Olmedo fanned this feeling, and distributed much gold as a foretaste of his general's favour. This was contrasted by the men with the miserable avarice of Narvaez, who used to say " in his lofty tones " to the major-domo, " Take heed that not a mantle is missing as I have duly entered down every article ! " Thus there soon arose in the camp a strong party for Cortes.

Meanwhile there was anxious debate in the Old Palace in Mexico. The adventurers seemed indeed to be between the upper and the nether mill-stone. If Narvaez, posing as the savior of the imprisoned emperor, marched to Mexico, the whole city would join him, and they would die like rats in a trap. On the other hand, if Cortes returned to the coast and attacked Narvaez he would perhaps never more regain the city he had worked so hard to win. He decided, however, to march forth and meet the most pressing danger. Alvarado was left in Mexico with a garrison of a hundred and forty men, and with orders to guard the emperor as a most precious jewel, and not to rouse or offend in any way the susceptibilities of the Aztec people.

Only seventy men did Cortes lead across the great causeway to do battle against the army equipped with such care by Velasquez. Even though valiant and stout of heart, they were glad to meet in Cholula, Leon with a hundred and twenty of their comrades. He had hastened from the coast at the news that his general needed all his forces. Near Tlascala they met Father Olmedo and his companions returning from the camp of Narvaez, which was now pitched in Cempoalla, the city of the Totonacs. " What greeting and embracing ! " says Bernal Diaz. " We all got round to hear their narrative. . . . Our merry, droll friar took off Narvaez, mimicking him to admiration ! Thus were we all together like so many brothers, rejoicing and laughing as if at a wedding or a feast, knowing well that to-morrow was the day on which we were to conquer or die opposed to five times our number."

In the wild mountain passes the little army was met by Sandoval with sixty soldiers from the garrison at Villa Rica. At the same place waited Totonac tamanes, bearing long double-headed spears tipped with copper. These they brought at the command of Cortes, who knew by grim experience of what service they would be against cavalry. The Spaniards were at once drilled in the use of these weapons, and then the general reviewed his forces two hundred and sixty -six foot soldiers and five horsemen. On again they marched down into the glowing tierra caliente, where the scorching sun made the way seem weary, and violent tropical showers drenched the soldiers to the skin. Three miles from Cempoalla a roaring river barred their way, and here Cortes allowed his men to rest. Night-time was drawing on, the sky was dark with storm-clouds, and the rising moon gave but a fitful gleam.

While his enemies were making this rapid march, Narvaez was wasting his time in idle ease. "Why are you so heedless? cried the old cacique of Cempoalla. " Do you think Malintzin is so ? I tell you when you least dream of it he will be upon you ! " Roused at last, Narvaez set out and reached the raging river several hours earlier than his foes. The rain was lashing down, the trees groaning, and all nature seemed alive with storm, but of man there was no trace. The troops, unused to hardship, began to grumble. " Of what use is it to remain here fighting with the elements ? " they cried. " There is no sign of an enemy, and how could one approach in such weather ? Let us return to our camp and be fresh for action if Corte's should come in the morning. Narvaez, wishful himself to get back under shelter, consented, and leaving two sentinels behind, they returned to their quarters in the temple of Cempoalla. The artillery and cavalry were stationed in the square, the infantry in the three teocallis. On the summit of the highest Narvaez took up his own position, and then with his mind quite at ease retired to sup and to sleep. He had an enemy who took no sleep in time of danger.

After a brief rest Cortes marshaled and harangued his men. In answer to his appeal every man cried out that he was ready to conquer or die. It was the eve of Whitsunday, and a surprise attack was planned for that very night. The watchword was to be Espiritu Santo. To Sandoval with sixty picked men was given the proud task of capturing Narvaez himself. In the driving rain and darkness the Spaniards with the aid of their long pikes struggled through the wild waters of the river. Two unfortunates were swept away, the others gained the opposite bank in safety. Marching along a road nearly impassable with mud and brambles, the vanguard suddenly fell on their knees. They had come to a wayside cross erected months before on their march to Mexico. The whole army knelt in the mud and confessed their sins to the priest. On one side of the road a little clump of timber lay, and here the baggage was left, and the cavaliers tethered their horses. In profound silence the soldiers marched on.

The sentinels of Narvaez were surprised and one of them captured. The other fled to Cempoalla to give the alarm, but Narvaez and his sleepy followers actually refused to believe him. "You have been deceived by your fears," they exclaimed insultingly, "you have mistaken the noise of the storm and the waving of the bushes for the enemy, who are far enough on the other side of the river ! " So they turned once more to slumber, the foe almost at their gates. Unchallenged the attackers entered the city and passed silently through the sleeping streets. They were nearly at the temple ere the alarm was given. Then indeed the trumpets rang out, the soldiers seized their arms, and the gunners rushed to their guns. Too late, the enemy were upon them. " Espiritu Santo ! " cried Cortes, hurling his company on the guns, and before the fury of the onslaught the gunners gave way and fled.

Then Sandoval with his sixty followers forced his way up the stairway of the chief teocalli, and gaining the summit grappled with the commander and his guard. Right gallantly Narvaez fought, but a spear at last pierced his left eye, and he sank to the ground crying, " Santa Maria, aid me ! I am slain ! " With a supreme effort his men dragged him into the sanctuary on the summit, and there they made their last stand. In vain Martin Lopez, the shipwright, a very tall man, set fire to the thatch of the roof, and those inside were forced to rush out into the midst of their foes. " Victory ! Victory for the Espiritu Santo ! Long live our king and Cortes ! Narvaez is dead ! " shouted the victors, and at the cry the captains defending the other teocallis at once surrendered. As for the officer who had talked of broiling the ears of Cortes for his breakfast, he was seized with a sudden illness and could fight no more. The victory was won. A handful of men, without cannon or horses, had completely vanquished the strong force of Velasquez. Narvaez, not dead, but sore wounded, lay a helpless prisoner. The darkness and the storm had been the greatest aid to the attackers, and myriads of fire-flies had been mistaken by the sleepy garrison for an army with matchlocks. Very shame- faced were the soldiers of Narvaez when the morning dawned and they saw by how small a force they had been vanquished. Surrounded by his captains, Cortes, a mantle of orange color thrown over his shoulders, sat in state to receive the homage of his rival's officers and cavaliers. Willingly enough they came to kiss his hand, not sorry, perhaps, to change commanders.

Narvaez and one or two of the really hostile men were led before him in chains. " You have reason, Senor Cortes," said the humiliated general, " to thank Fortune for having given you the day so easily." " I have much to be thankful for," replied Cortes, "but for my victory over you I deem it as one of the least of my achievements." With fair words and many gifts the soldiers of Narvaez were conquered still more completely than by the blows of the night before. Indeed, the veteran adventurers grew jealous, and grumbled that the general had forsaken his friends for his foes. Alonzo de Avila, an imperious and turbulent captain whom Cortes could not bear to have near him, voiced their complaints. He was, however, a valuable and gallant soldier, and the general pacified him with many presents, but took care for the future to employ him on business of importance at a distance. Soon vanished the discontent of the men, and dividing up his now large force, Cortes gave every soldier some definite work to do. Ordaz and Leon were each dispatched with two hundred men to form new settlements, Lugo with another company was sent to the coast to dismantle the fleet.

But now came from Alvarado in Mexico news so threatening that the glory and joy of the recent victory seemed to disappear like the rays of the sun behind a lowering storm-cloud. The city of Mexico was roused at last ! Her people were in arms against the insolent strangers. They had burnt the water-houses they had attacked the Old Palace, undermined the defenses, and killed and wounded many of the garrison. This was the alarming news which Cortes received in the hour of victory. "Hasten to our relief," wrote Alvarado, "if you would save us or keep your hold on the capital ! " Swift to answer the appeal, Corte's recalled his scattered troops, and with one thousand foot soldiers and nearly a hundred horsemen at once set out for Mexico.

Only one hundred men, under an inferior officer, were left to garrison Villa Rica, for the general could not in such a crisis leave Sandoval behind. At Tlascala they were warmly welcomed, and their fighting force augmented by two thousand warriors. Crossing the mountain barrier the veterans proudly pointed out to the men of Narvaez the lovely valley of Mexico, and described how its people would throng to welcome the wonderful white Teules. Down they marched into the glowing valley, but no crowds came forth to meet them, no flowers strewed their path. By the shores of the gleaming lakes they passed, but no canoes gave life and interest to the scene.

Early in the morning of the 24th of June, Cortes, at the head of his army, rode on to the great southern causeway. The sun shone brightly on the white- towered city with its smoke and temple-fires, on the glancing waters and on the marching army but its radiant beams revealed no other sign of life. The lake was deserted. Presently, however, far in the distance a sentinel canoe was descried darting rapidly away. The ominous stillness, more appalling than the noise of battle, was broken only by the steady tramp of the soldiers. The men of Narvaez, looking fearfully around at every step, began to grumble. This was not the reception they had been promised. Would the fort of Xoloc be barred against them ? No, it too was deserted, and unopposed they marched to the walls of Mexico. " Sound the trumpets ! " cries Cortes, " that our comrades may know that rescue is at hand ! "

To the sound of martial music they entered the city, and as they crossed the drawbridge they heard the guns of the garrison in answer. Alvarado was still holding out, and at the thought their drooping courage revived. All was silence in the city, no living thing crossed their path as they marched through the empty streets. At every canal they found a broken bridge, but the tamanes were able to replace the timber, which still lay on the banks. What a trap was this island city ! The canals were too wide for a horse to jump, and too deep for an armed man to wade and the vessels built with such care by Martin Lopez had been destroyed !

Gloomy and anxious were the faces of both captains and men as they reached the Old Palace. But wide open were the gates flung, and out rushed their comrades with tumultuous welcome, while the trumpets and guns echoed through the silent city. The cause of the sudden revolt and open hostility of the Aztecs was the first inquiry of Cortes.

He found that Alvarado, the beloved Tonatiuh of the Indians, had himself provoked it by the most wanton cruelty. On a certain date in May a festival in honour of Huitzilopotchli was always held in the great temple. As Alvarado was governing Mexico in the name of Montezuma the caciques had requested his permission for the use of the temple. Consent was given on condition that the Aztecs came unarmed and offered up no human sacrifice. Vague rumours came to the ears of the Spaniards that the caciques intended to take advantage of the gathering to rouse the people to insurrection.

Without waiting to prove the truth of this story, Alvarado, mindful perhaps of Cholula, resolved to intimidate the Aztecs by a most terrible blow. On the appointed day six hundred caciques in gorgeous garments bedecked with gold and jewels assembled in the great temple. The Spaniards joined the throng, the music rang out, and the gay whirling dance began. Suddenly at a signal from Alvarado the mailed soldiers rushed with drawn swords on the unarmed and unsuspecting chiefs. To fight was impossible, to escape hopeless. The poor wretches who tried to scale the serpent- wall were shot or cut down. " The pavement ran with streams of blood," says an old chronicler, " like water in a heavy shower." The carnage did not cease till every Aztec lay dead. Then the Spaniards rifled the bodies of the gold and ornaments and returned to their quarters. The victims were all nobles of high rank, and the dastardly deed roused the city to indignation unspeakable. " Vengeance ! " was the cry on every lip, and hardly had the murderers returned to the Old Palace ere it was assaulted with such fury that it might even have been stormed had not Montezuma appeared on the battlements and besought his people to depart. Sullenly they obeyed, resolving to blockade if they might not attack.

With a dark and angry face Cortes listened to the story. Then in a tone of repressed fury and bitter disdain he said to Alvarado, " You have been false to your trust. Your conduct has been that of a madman ! " At this moment Montezuma entered the court- yard borne in his palanquin, clad in his royal robes and surrounded by his family and attendants. As Cortes looked from the splendor of the procession to his own ragged, hungry soldiers his heart grew harder and more bitter. " I salute you, O Malinche, and welcome your return," said the emperor, and Marina in her sweet, clear voice translated the courteous words. Fixing the emperor with a cold stare, the general turned away without a word of greeting in reply. Montezuma, who had restrained the violence of his subjects, and had shared his own provisions with the garrison, was cut to the heart at the deliberate insult. Returning to his apartments he sent to request an interview. But Cortes, whose temper seems for once to have completely given way, exclaimed angrily, " What have I to do with this dog of a king who suffers us to starve before his eyes ? " Leon, Olid, and Lugo hastily interposed, begging the general to be more considerate to the emperor, whose kindness and generosity had never wavered. The implied censure seemed to irritate Cortes the more. "What compliment am I under to a dog who leaves us to die of famine ? " he exclaimed. Then turning to the Aztecs he said sternly, " Go, tell your master and his people to open the markets, or we will do it for them at their cost ! Begone ! " A reply soon came from the emperor.

"My people," he said, " are ready to attack Malinche and his followers. Cuitlahuac, my brother, the lord of Iztapalapan, whom he holds a prisoner, is the only man I can depend on to keep the peace and open the markets. " So Cortes, in sore need of provisions, set free Cuitlahuac, who had been imprisoned with Cacama, king of Tezcuco. But the lord of Iztapalapan, brave and patriotic, far from calming the Aztecs, became their leader against the Spaniards, and re- turned no more to the Old Palace. Cortes, meanwhile, not realizing the imminence of the danger, dispatched a solitary messenger to Villa Rica to tell of his safe arrival. And now from every side, by the causeways, by the lake, up the canals, up the streets, came pouring into Mexico all the tribes summoned by Cuitlahuac and Guatemozin, nephew of Montezuma and bravest of Aztecs. Louder and nearer each minute grew the distant thunder of the mingled war-cries, and as the Spanish captains mounted the palace roof an appalling sight met their startled eyes. The whole valley seemed dark with warriors ! A white man came staggering down the street bearing no lance, but many wounds, and shouting as he ran. It was the messenger to Villa Rica, and as his comrades dragged him in through the gates flung open to receive him, he cried, "The city is all in arms ! The drawbridges are up, and the enemy will soon be upon us ! "

The noise of the advancing multitudes grew into deafening uproar as they swept into the streets surrounding the Old Palace. Yelling their war-cries, with their banners tossing above them, and in their midst frenzied priests clashing cymbals and leaping in fierce exaltation, they advanced at a run. Suddenly from behind the parapets on all the flat house-tops around sprang up myriads of warriors, who swarmed also on the terraces of the teocallis in the great temple. The Old Palace was but one story high, except in the centre, where another had been added, and was much lower therefore than the surrounding buildings, which offered a strong vantage-point to the Aztecs.

At the first alarm every Spaniard had rushed to his post. Aghast as they were at the great array which seemed to have appeared as if by magic against them, there was no panic or confusion, so marvelous was their discipline. Here and there through the walls which surrounded the Old Palace they had pierced holes for the guns, and the gunners but waited the word of command. Three times did the drum ,of serpent skins boom forth from the great teocal, and at the last stroke the Aztecs rushed forward raining their missiles thick and fast into the palace courtyard. With their guns the Spaniards answered, and terrible was the effect on an enemy whose dense ranks were so easy a mark that "the gunners loaded and fired with hardly the trouble of pointing their pieces."

But nothing could daunt the spirit of the Aztecs. Those behind pressed forward to take the place of the slain, and scaling the wall fought hand to hand. At Guatemozin's command balls of burning cotton were shot into the enclosure, and though the palace was of stone the huts of the Tlascalans were of reeds and wood and speedily caught fire. The Spaniards had no water to spare, and they were obliged to pull down part of the walls ere they could stay the flames. Over the breach the Aztecs rushed, only to be driven back by the heavy guns. When night fell the natives withdrew to collect their dead and wounded, and the garrison, thankful for the respite, repaired the defences.

At daybreak, just as the Aztecs prepared to renew the assault, the guns thundered forth, mowing down their foremost ranks, and then out of the gates dashed Cortes and his cavalry, followed by the infantry and Tlascalans. So headlong was the charge that the Spaniards, scattering all before them, rode unopposed down the wide street. But soon a barricade barred the way, and while they waited for the guns to come up and clear the road, missiles were showered from the roofs on either side, and the Aztecs falling on the rear did deadly work among the Tlascalans. The way was cleared, but at every bridge the struggle was renewed, and the Spaniards, though victorious at all points, suffered severely.

At last Cortes sounded a retreat, darkness was falling, and his men were weary with the fight. Several hundred of the citadel houses had been burnt down, but the way back seemed even more difficult than the advance. "The Mexicans fought with such ferocity," says Bernal Diaz, " that if we had the assistance that day of ten thousand Hectors, we could not have beaten them off! Some of our soldiers who had been in Italy swore that neither among Christians nor Turks, nor the artillery of the king of France, had they ever seen such desperation as was shown by these Indians."

Cortes himself fought like a hero, rescuing single-handed one of his cavaliers who had been unhorsed and almost overwhelmed by the foe. Not until the gates of the Old Palace clanged behind them did they feel themselves in safety. All night long the Aztecs encamped around the Spanish quarters, and though they did not continue the fight their warlike yells showed they were far from subdued in spirit. "The gods have delivered you at last into our hands ! " they cried, " Huitzilopotchli has long wanted his victims. The stone of sacrifice is ready ! The knives are sharpened ! The wild beasts in the palace are roaring for their offal, and the cages are waiting for the Tlascalans, false sons of Anahuac, who are to be fattened for the festival ! " Even the stout-hearted Spanish veterans shuddered as they heard the savage threats and thought of what the morrow might bring forth.

True to their threats, the Aztecs renewed the assault early next morning, and Cortes soon realised that his men, few in number as compared with the enemy, could not long stand the strain of such fighting. He felt that their only hope lay in the emperor, who must be induced to appease his subjects once more by promising that the Spaniards would, if permitted, immediately leave the city. " What have I to do with Malintzin ? " exclaimed Montezuma bitterly, "I do not wish to hear from him. I desire only to die ! "

At last, however, Father Olmedo won his reluctant consent. " I will speak to my people," he said, " but it will be useless. They will neither believe me nor the false promises of Malintzin. You will never leave these walls alive." So the emperor of the Aztecs, preceded by the golden wand of empire, but surrounded by a Spanish guard, mounted the palace roof to speak for the last time to his faithful people. He was arrayed in his royal robes, and on his weary brow rested the gorgeous crown of Mexico.

A sudden silence fell on the battling multitudes below as they gazed on the monarch they had so long revered. For a moment Montezuma was speechless with emotion, then, in a tone of kingly dignity, he said : " Why are you here in arms against the palace of my fathers ? Is it that you think your sovereign a prisoner ? If so, you have acted rightly. But you are mistaken. The strangers are my guests. I remain with them only from choice, and can leave them when I list. Have you come to drive them from the city ? They will depart of their own accord if you will open a way for them. Return to your homes, lay down your arms, and the white men shall go back to their own land, and all shall be well again within the walls of Tenochtitlan."

But when the people heard their emperor declare that the ruthless invaders of their city were his guests and friends, a frenzy of patriotic wrath swept through the multitude. " Base Aztec ! " they cried, " coward ! woman ! fit only to weave and spin ! " and, before the Spaniards could shield him, Montezuma was struck senseless to the ground by a shower of stones and arrows. A sudden horror at their own deed instantly smote the Aztecs, who scattered in every direction with groans of bitter mourning, leaving the great square silent and deserted.


Hernán Cortés’ Bloody Sack Of Cholula

In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico, leading a band of Spaniards into a precarious political environment that was dominated by the Aztec Empire. To Cortés’ good fortune, the Spaniards eventually landed in a region populated by the Totonacs, a people who grudgingly paid tribute to the Aztecs. By July of 1519, Cortés was able to bring the Totonac cities into rebellion against the then ruler of the Aztecs, Montezuma II. After founding the colony of Vera Cruz and building up his alliance with the Totonacs, Cortés headed inland toward the Tlaxcalans, the fiercest rival of the Aztecs at the time. As there were Totonac warriors—former Aztec tributaries—marching with the Spaniards, the Tlaxcalans reportedly believed that Cortés had aligned with Montezuma II, and therefore the forces of Tlaxcala were at first hostile to the conquistadors. In early September, the Tlaxcalans went to war against Cortés, attacking the Spaniards during the day and ambushing the conquistadors at night. Yet, after the Tlaxcalans suffered several costly defeats, they made peace with the foreigners. When the leaders of Tlaxcala subsequently discovered that Cortés was not aligned with Montezuma, but was instead stirring up all kinds of trouble for the Aztecs, the Tlaxcalans eagerly agreed to an alliance with Hernán Cortés.

Around the time that Cortés and the Tlaxcalans began negotiating, five Aztec diplomats from Montezuma arrived in the Spanish camp. The envoys brought with them gifts of gold, jewels and cloth for Cortés, and they also delivered a message from Montezuma, in which he reportedly promised to pay tribute to Cortés’ liege, Charles V, in exchange for the Spaniards never traveling to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). After peace was formally ratified between the Spaniards and the Tlaxcalans, some of the Aztec diplomats rushed off to inform Montezuma of the happenings. A few days later, more Aztec diplomats arrived (with a further helping of ornate gifts) and they delivered another message from Montezuma, in which he begged the Spaniards not to trust the Tlaxcalans. The Aztecs, however, were not the only ones sowing distrust—during Cortés’ alliance negotiations with Tlaxcala, the Tlaxcalans repeatedly advised the Spaniards not to trust Montezuma or his subject states. Unfortunately for the Aztecs, as the Spanish support for the Totonac rebellion had already shown, Cortés did not have Montezuma’s interests at heart—therefore he traveled to Tlaxcala, soaked up as much local intelligence about the Aztecs as he could obtain, and recruited 1,000 Tlaxcalan warriors to accompany the Spaniards on their journeys.

While the Spaniards were still in Tlaxcala, another message arrived from Montezuma, in which he said it was dangerous to spend so much time with the Tlaxcalans. Montezuma suggested that Cortés travel toward Tenochtitlan, where Aztec-aligned cities would take good care of the Spaniards. The Aztec ambassadors with Cortés pointed out the city of Cholula as an ideal destination—it was one of the most important cities in Mexico and it served as an agricultural, religious and military hub in the region. Most of all, Cholula was staunchly loyal to Montezuma. Upon hearing of the suggested city, Cortés sent a message to Cholula, requesting that leaders from the area come to meet him in Tlaxcala. The Cholulans, in response, sent messengers of low status to Tlaxcala with a message that the chiefs of Cholula would not be meeting with Cortés. Infuriated, Cortés sent the messengers home with a second, angrier-toned request that the Cholulan chiefs come to meet him. The Cholulans responded steadfastly that they would in no way send their chieftains into the territory of Tlaxcala, a long-time enemy of Cholula and the Aztecs. Hernán Cortés found this explanation reasonable and decided to instead bring himself and his forces to the Cholulans. The 1,000 Tlaxcalan recruits went with him.

When Cortés’ party neared Cholula, the city’s leaders and priests came out to meet the travelers on the road. The mood was said to have been joyous until the Cholulans sighted the large contingent of Tlaxcalans in Cortés’ wake. Upon this discovery, the leaders of Cholula forbid the warriors of Tlaxcala from entering the city. When the Tlaxcalans agreed to camp away in some nearby fields, the Cholulans, satisfied, let Cortés and approximately 400 of his Spanish followers, as well as his Totonac allies, enter into the city.

At first, Cortés’ experience in the city was pleasant. The Spaniards and their allies (minus the Tlaxcalans) were given lodging and plenty of good food. Once he had access to the Cholulan leaders, Hernán Cortés began making his usual requests of the locals—convert to Christianity and swear fealty to Charles V. The Cholulans refused the first command, but said they would think about the second. For two days, the cordial atmosphere lasted local chiefs and priests met with the Spaniards, and the residents of Cholula crowded the streets and rooftops to get a glimpse of the strange foreigners.

The mood in Cholula underwent an abrupt change on the third day, however, when dignitaries from Montezuma arrived in the city. They presented another message from the indecisive Montezuma, in which he expressly ordered the Spaniards not to continue on toward Tenochtitlan. Montezuma’s ambassador’s also met with the local authorities in Cholula, resulting in a drastic change in the local attitude toward the Spaniards—they stopped bringing food, the chieftains no longer met with Cortés, and average Cholulans in the streets avoided the Spaniards like the plague.

Curiously, several local priests in Cholula eventually began mediating between Cortés and the leaders of the city, ultimately brokering a meeting between the two sides. In the parley, the Cholulan leadership explained that Montezuma had commanded the city to give no further food to the Spaniards and to not let them travel any further toward Tenochtitlan. In response to this revelation, Cortés merely replied that he would continue on the road to Tenochtitlan anyway, preferably the very next day, and that he wanted 2,000 Cholulan porters to accompany him on his journey. The Cholulans were reportedly startled by the reply, but they agreed to assemble Cortés’ escort at a designated courtyard near the city’s temple.

According to the story put forward by the Spanish sources, Cortés received an incredible number of revelations over the next few hours until sunrise. Cortés’ Totonac allies appeared, claiming that they had found hidden pits in the city that were filled with sharpened stakes, as well as rooftops stocked with stones that could be used as projectiles. They also claimed to have seen earthen and wooden defenses that had been recently been built in the city. Later, some Tlaxcalans who had sneaked into Cholula came to Cortés and informed him that they had seen signs of war preparation at the periphery of the city, including an exodus of baggage and civilians, as well as invocations to the gods for assistance in war. Finally, Hernán Cortés’ interpreter, Malinche (whom the Spaniards called Doña Marina), rounded up three witnesses—two local priests and an elderly woman—who allegedly all confessed that the Cholulans were planning to lead the Spaniards into an ambush of 20,000 Aztec warriors hidden just outside the city.

Although the validity of the evidence, and the motivations of the people who provided it, have long been debated over the centuries, Hernán Cortés and his fellow Spaniards were, at that time, apparently completely convinced that the Cholulans wanted to do them harm. In this state of mind, Cortés sent messengers to his Tlaxcalan allies, telling them to be prepared for battle, and to attack the city if they should hear a gunshot. Finally, before dawn, Cortés marched his Spaniards and Totonac allies to the courtyard where the 2,000 Cholulan porters were due to assemble. He set up troops at all entrances and exits from the courtyard and waited for the Cholulan leaders, priests and escorts to arrive. When these people began to pour into the courtyard, the atmosphere was reportedly joyous—the Cholulans were apparently in a giggly mood that morning and their steps were quick and purposeful. More than the required 2,000 appeared in the courtyard, filling up the space. Among the crowd were two of the informants that Doña Marina had brought to Cortés these men were subtlety sent away by the Spaniards and were told to lock themselves in their homes.

Despite the ring of Cortés’ troops encircling the courtyard, and the selective sending-away of certain pro-Spanish Cholulans, the people who gathered in the square apparently took little notice of the vulnerable situation into which they had walked. The realization of danger, however, became all too apparent when Hernán Cortés started to speak to the crowd through his interpreter. He accused the gathered Cholulans of nefarious and treasonous acts against himself and his liege, Charles V—a crime that was punishable by death. After Cortés’ speech, the Cholulan leaders reportedly again claimed that they were only following Montezuma’s orders, yet it is unclear if they were referring to the withheld food or the planned ambush of which they were being accused. Whatever the case, Hernán Cortés found the explanation unsatisfactory and decided to show no mercy to the Cholulan chiefs, priests and warriors in the courtyard. As Bernal Díaz del Castillo, one of the Spaniards at the scene, described the event, Cortés “ordered a musket to be fired, which was the signal we had agreed on and they [the Cholulans] received a blow that they will remember for ever, for we killed many of them” (The Conquest of New Spain, chapter 83).

A large portion of the Cholulans in the courtyard were unarmed, as their primary purpose for gathering had been to serve as porters and luggage carriers of the Spaniards. As such, Hernán Cortés’ small band of conquistadors, armed with swords, shields, crossbows and firearms, cut through the thousands of Cholulans in the square with ease in a period of about two hours. In a later dispatch to Charles V, Hernán Cortés claimed that 3,000 Cholulans died in the attack, yet other contemporary 16th-century sources reported as many as 6,000 were killed.

Cortés and the Spaniards were not the only threat to Cholula on the day of the massacre—1,000 Tlaxcalan warriors were still camped outside of the city. When they heard the sounds of gunshots, the Tlaxcalans stormed Cholula to kill, plunder and take captives in the streets. As had happened before the attack at the courtyard, the Spaniards sheltered certain selected Cholulan priests and chieftains from the rampage of the Tlaxcalans, yet many of the other leadership figures in Cholula died in the massacre or on the chaotic streets. When word of events in Cholula spread back to Tlaxcala, more Tlaxcalan warriors arrived at the scene to take part in the sacking of the city.

After an unknown number of days, Cortés began to rein in the chaos. The people who were still alive in Cholula were pardoned and the Spaniards managed to convince the Tlaxcalans to return to the outskirts of the city. Cortés also reportedly asked the Tlaxcalans to release their Cholulan prisoners, although the degree to which this was done is uncertain. A new regime of chieftains and priests, returned to power in Cholula, in which the figures sheltered by the Spaniards during the attack now took prominence. Finally, Cortés was able to broker some kind of peace between the new Cholulan leaders and the Tlaxcalans who had just sacked the city.

After staying a reported fourteen days in Cholula, Hernán Cortés set out in the direction of Tenochtitlan. The alleged 20,000 hidden Aztecs warriors near Cholula—if they had really been there—had by this time withdrawn, and Cortés faced no further harassment during his trip to the Aztec capital. As was hinted earlier, the events at Cholula were controversial and much debated even in the day of Cortés. During the 16th century, Cortés’ fellow Spaniards questioned the reliability of the evidence presented by the Totonacs, the Tlaxcalans and the interpreter, Doña Marina, which led to the preemptive killing of so many Cholulans. Hernán Cortés’ comrade, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, was especially hostile to the insinuations of a bishop and Dominican friar named Bartolome de las Casas (d. 1566), who alleged Cortés “punished the Cholulans for no reason at all” and accused the Spaniards of “great cruelties” in the city (The Conquest of New Spain, chapter 83). In rebuttal to Bartolome de las Casas’ accusations, Bernal Díaz del Castillo praised an investigation done by a team of “some good Franciscans,” who interviewed the leaders of the new regime in Cholula, and the accounts they received from the city leaders were reportedly identical to the ones presented by Cortés and his companions (The Conquest of New Spain, chapter 83).

Written by C. Keith Hansley

Picture Attribution: (Storming of Teocalli by Hernan Cortes, by Emanuel Leutze (1816–1868), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).


MONTEZUMA'S RETURN

Platforming in the first-person is usually a very bad idea. Anyone who has played Half-Life knows that the platforming sections are the most frustrating thing about an otherwise genius game. Released in 1998, the same year as Half-Life, Montezuma's Return by Utopia Technologies based the entire game around this mechanic. And is actually the best example of it I've ever seen.

Before we get into all that, let's look at some history. Return is a belated sequel to the classic 8-bit puzzle-platformer known as Montezuma's Revenge. It came out on multiple systems in 1984 including the Apple II and Commodore 64 before having a decently upgraded port to the Master System in 1989, but it's the Atari 5200 original that got re-jigged on DOS as a bonus for the sequel's release.

Montezuma's Return was originally made for DOS too, coming out in 1997 though that version became obsolete when a 3Dfx version came to Windows a year later. It carries a weighty history in its own right, being one of the first games to feature bump mapping, real-time lighting and fast Phong shading among many others that feature in the UVision engine. If that all sounds like jargon to you, just know that it looks really, really pretty.

But the one aspect that makes this jaunt into treacherous Aztec temples worth it is the gameplay. It plays surprisingly well. You'll be traversing labyrinthine levels filled with contraptions and a variety of entertaining enemies before ultimately coming face-to-face with a huge boss that will often need brains more than brawn to defeat. Your attacks are a little clunky by today's standards, with only punching and kicking at close-range available to you. Your hands and legs react quickly and shoot out a nice distance so it's not broken in that regard, it's just that the enemies are often too nimble to consistently strike them. Even the most minor of creatures will have a health bar that will take a number of hits to deplete.

By the time you've completed the first level, the difficulty will ramp up considerably. There'll be bottomless pits, angry enemies and moving platforms that float in unusual patterns over lava pits of death. Because of the first-person perspective, these obstacle courses will require studying from a distance before embarking otherwise you may be knocked off as a hovering step unexpectedly creeps up behind you. Fail, and you'll be taken back to the beginning of the level, lose all lives and you'll be taken back to the level-select screen where you'll have to kill all enemies and collect all treasures from scratch. At least you'll be treated with a fun little CGI death scene bespoke to how you died.

While I certainly felt the difficulty curve to be a little too steep, it rarely felt unfair. I wanted to speed-run through the levels when a slow and measured approach is required. The traps are often ingenious, taking advantage of the variety of abilities of our hero, Max Montezuma (not Panama Joe of the first game), the last descendant of King Montezuma and the only adventurer alive likely to survive the curse his ancient ancestor placed on the temple. Not only does he have a satisfying jump arch, but he can also climb ropes and swim underwater. On particularly high leaps, Max will look down to his feet, giving you a better idea of where you're likely to land, proving that this kind of action game can work.

Each level is based on a theme, and has their own enemy set of enemies, whether it be big cats, gorillas or dragonflies. They may be a bit chunky by today's standards but they're brilliantly animated in all their polygonal glory. The obstacles and traps also loosely stay in context with the theme. 'Lair of the Lavalord', the third level, has a lot of deadly molten rock illuminating the cavernous rooms while Dragonfly Dungeon features a lot of lakes and deep water to swim in - it's their natural habitat after all. Cat Caves has a number of feline enemies but also an impressive-looking pool of swimming turtles to navigate across. There's enough variety in each level to keep you interested.

The puzzles are often very fun to solve as well, reminding me of the traps found in the early Tomb Raider games. One room is filled with giant swinging swords to dodge while another requires you to push a ball into the correct position. Most will feature switches to open doors or activate machinery that are automatically pressed when you approach them. The most complex requires specific keys or cogs to be collected first. Again, their use is automated if you have them but they're not always signposted well. For much of my playthrough of the second level, I thought that silver crystal I picked up was just another piece of treasure. It was only when I approached a plinth next to an up-turned platform did I realise it was the key to open up the way forward.

Most levels will culminate in a boss, all of which are well thought out. The first level has you fight a giant in underpants and can be quite tricky if you haven't got your punching and kicking down. If you can master the flying-kick, then you should be OK for most battles. The demon at the end of the Lair of the Lavalord is a little bit different. He will throw exploding lava balls at you and is seemingly invulnerable to your attacks. Instead of the trusty flying-kick, you'll have to punch those lava balls back to him before they detonate. Repeat about five times, and he'll be defeated. Other bosses will have you make use of a giant pendulum or kicking a giant rat in the butt.

Those without a boss will still have a final encounter, though usually as a number of a previously seen enemy in a unique position. For example, Spikes and Skulls will see a number of regular Aztec warriors (known as Georges for some reason) with skulls on their heads. When you defeat each one, their disintegrating body will be dragged to a nearby pool where two bouncing skull heads will spawn in its place. You'll have to defeat the Georges while avoiding the skulls. Dragonfly Dungeon has a fat George seen earlier in the level split into multiple smaller versions of himself once defeated, resulting in a room filled with tiny fat men waddling towards you. Variety is not this game's weakness.

If you collect all the jewels and pearls in a level, you will be taken to a bonus stage. These short, gem-filled stages often feature jumping pads to bounce around and collect them. They are often very simple, yet purposely frustrating given the tight time allocated, but they add nothing more to than a neat looking room and the promise of a higher score.

Included in the initial CD release was a new DOS version of Montezuma's Revenge ported from the Atari 5200 original. While I struggle with most games from 1984, Montezuma's Revenge still holds up well today. As you navigate through the number of screens towards the end, you'll find a surprisingly addictive puzzle platformer. Jumping is precise and predictable while the core gameplay of collecting keys to open doors a fun one. It's not the best port out there (perhaps I'll do a compilation of them all some other time), but it certainly serves to educate players of how far videogames have come in the years Panama Joe became Max Montezuma.

Both games in the Montezuma series remain incredibly fun and Return remains as one of the few first-person platformers that actually work. Not only does the gameplay hold up, but the graphics do too, being a true showcase of what the 3Dfx card could actually do to a game back in the 90s. Highly recommended.

To download the PC game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo in conjunction with DxWnd to run the VGA version, nGlide in conjunction to DxWnd to run the 3Dfx version and DOSBox to run the original DOS game on modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.


The Aztec account and the Spanish account

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The Spanish account Beinal 45-54 narrates the some of the experiences of what had happened during a time that America was discovered and the Spanish people conquered their land. The Spanish account is narrated after some time had passed meaning that there are some things that the narrator might have forgotten, or even clearer story of the events is given as the narrator was able to see the results of some of the things that were happening at an early age of his life.

This experiences sound more really because they form part of what is told in most ancient stories of how the Spanish state came to be what it is today. As compared to the Aztec account they both narrate the same story but with different ways of expressing the way things were happening at that time Portilla 55-61.

As discussed in the Beinal 45-54 in the Spanish account the number of soldiers who went to war and the weapons that they used are large as compared to the Aztec account where the number of soldiers who went to war is so small comparing to the people that they were going to fight with. There seems to be a contradiction in the Aztec account Portilla 55-61 over that as the account tells of a win that was achieved when at the same time we are shown that the enemies came in large numbers which is not a realistic issue in this story.

The Aztec account Portilla 55-61 differs from the Spanish account because the author of the story seems to focus on some unrealistic things that happen in history. For example the account narrates of the military depending on religious ideas to win in their wars which the Spanish account contradicts with by showing that the military got any form of success by working hard, coordinating well and using sophisticated equipment. The authors are narrating in a different perspective by each author depending on how each.

Such that one reading the two stories will not be able to establish what actually happened during that time because both authors seem to have existed at that time and even seemed to witness all the events that were taking place even though they report the events in a different manner from each other. The Spanish account Beinal 45-54 narrates more events and much details of the events as if the narrator was present when all those things were happening.

When comparing the Spanish account with the Aztec account the same events are reported but there is room that is given that will enable one to tell that when some of the events were happening the author of the story was not present to witness them. For example the way in which Montezuma is welcomed sounds like the narrator was there to welcome this prince and to witness all the events that had happened between Montezuma and Cortes. From the analysis of the two accounts Beinal 45-54 the authors try to employ some elements of creativity in telling their stories of what happed during the Spanish conquest.

The narrate the story well enough that could make a person reading through the story to think that such thinks are happening there and then and he or she is involved in what is happening. To both accounts Portilla 55-61 there seems to be real events which are explained by the expectations of the authors of what they would wish to happen after a certain event had taken place making the story more interesting to read up to the end of it. When comparing the two accounts I can be tempted to believe the Spanish account as it tend to portray a clear picture of what seemed to happened in the history.

The events in the Spanish accounts are explained in a logical order that does not confuse a reader who is reading the story for the first time the reason as to why I have picked on it over the Aztec account. On the other hand, the article on the world encounters discusses that the way in which the events in the Spanish account Portilla 55-61 are narrated to have happened in history gives a picture of real events that must have led to the conquest of the Spanish. In the Aztec account little emphasis is given for example on the visit of prince Montezuma and the different activities that he carried out that led to the conquest.

For that matter the Spanish account focus on the point of interest in a clearer manner that the reader of the story will be able to explain what events led to the other during that time Beinal 45-54. To summarize on the Spanish and Aztec account both stories as narrated by the author involves some forms of artistic devices that make the story to sound real while in the real sense on cannot be able to create first hand information of the actual happening of events during that period Beinal 45-54.


Journey to Aztlán, the Mythical Homeland of the Aztecs

In this episode we will talk about Aztlán, the place, according to legend and oral history, where the Aztec people originated. There are several questions regarding this place of origin. Was Aztlan real or imaginary? And, if Aztlan was an actual place, where was it located? Almost 5 centuries after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire we might be closer to answering these questions.

We will start off by talking a little bit about the Aztecs. The meaning of the word, “Aztec,” first of all, means, “the people of Aztlán.” At the time of the Spanish arrival in the beginning of the 16 th Century, the Aztecs had ruled most of central Mexico from their capital of Tenochtitlan, situated on a series of interconnected islands in the middle of Lake Texcoco in what is now the Valley of Mexico, the site of modern-day Mexico City. The empire was comprised of subjugated client states that paid tribute to the rulers at Tonichtitlan, and some of these states were located over a thousand miles from the capital. The empire comprised many different peoples and language groups. For the purposes of this podcast when we talk of “the Aztecs” we will be referring to the ethnic group often called the Mexica or the Mexica-Tonochcah, the people who came to rule central Mexico, imposing their laws, language and other aspects of culture on the subjugated. It turns out that the Mexica people were not indigenous to central Mexico but, like the Spanish to follow them, were outsiders and conquerors.

Where the Aztecs came from can be traced through historical accounts and by using linguistics. The latter science, linguistics, provides us clues as to which tribes the Aztecs are related to and can help place their origins geographically. The Aztec language, Nahuatl, is from the Uto-Aztecan language family. In English we have words from Nahuatl: tomato, avocado, coyote, peyote, chocolate and chile to name a few. The Uto-Aztecan language family includes the languages of the Hopi, Shoshone, Northern Paiute, the Pima and the Utes of Utah, in addition to several indigenous groups of northern Mexico. The linguistic connection to people living as far north as Idaho and Montana gives some support to the assertion that the Aztecs came from someplace north of the present-day US-Mexico border. This language kinship together with a legend of southern migration make for a pretty solid case that the Aztecs were once northerners.

The Aztec origin stories were chronicled by the early Spanish conquerors who were curious to know where these people came from. A notable chronicler was a Dominican friar named Diego Duran who came to central Mexico – then called New Spain – at the age of 5 around 1540. He learned the Aztec language and began writing down stories about the Aztec gods, descriptions of the Aztec calendar and the legends associated with the origins of the people. We also have a document describing the legend of Aztlán written by the Aztecs themselves in Nahuatl using the Latin alphabet. This document called Los Anales de Tlatelolco – The Annals of Tlatelolco – is a codex manuscript written on bark paper and contains no pictures, just text. The authors are unknown but it is believed to have been created in the 1540s, just 20 years after the Conquest and is further believed to have been a copy of an earlier manuscript possibly written in about 1528. This document was in indigenous hands for many years. Now, the codex is held at the National Library of France in Paris.

So, what does this Nahuatl codex and the accounts of the Dominican friar tell us about Aztlán and the origins of the Aztecs? According to the story, the Aztecs were part of the seven tribes of Chicomoztoc, which translates to “The Place of the Seven Caves.” Along with the Aztecs were the Acolhua, Chalca, Tepaneca, Tlahuica, Tlaxcalan, and Xochimilca. Some historical accounts have the Aztecs emerging from a hollow earth and into the caves and then to the surface of the earth. When the 7 tribes came out of the caves they wandered the land for years as one group. According to ethnohistorians, this happened somewhere between 1100 and 1300 AD. Eventually, the Aztecs settled in a magical paradise called Aztlan, which has been described as a large island in the middle of a large lake called Metztliapan, which translates to “Lake of the Moon.” There is some debate about the meaning of the word “Aztlán”. It has been translated as “The place of the white birds,” “The place of the herons,” “The white place” and “the place of the tools.” In some accounts the Aztecs fled because of a tyrannical elite and in other accounts there was a great natural disaster that caused people to leave the earthly paradise and head south to the area of modern-day Mexico City. In many accounts, once the Aztecs left Aztlán, they were pushed along by the Chichimecas, a warlike marauding group that did not want the Aztecs in their territories. In most accounts the Aztecs were guided out of Aztlán and to their new land by their god Huitzilipochtli who also told them from then on they were to be known as Aztecs, “the people of Aztlan,”so they would never forget their point of origin. A few illustrations of Aztlán exist as found in several Aztec codices. There is also an interesting and detailed 1704 depiction of the Aztec migration out of Aztlán by an Italian mapmaker Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri.

In the 1450s, Aztec Emperor Montezuma the First gathered together the wisest scholars in his realm and some of the fiercest warriors to undertake a journey to discover the exact location of Aztlán. This could have been a purely political move, to unite quarreling factions in the empire, or it could have been a sort of “bread and circuses” distraction. Whatever the reason, the expedition returned to the capital of Tenochtitlan with news that they had found Aztlán. While the story of Montezuma’s expedition survives, an exact location does not. All we know is that it is somewhere north of modern-day Mexico City and that it is an island in the middle of a lake.

Can we use modern science and scholarship to determine an exact location of Aztlán? There have been many theories, but to date nothing has been confirmed. When things are not verifiable it is often fun to look into the speculation and the educated guesses offered up by various researchers and amateur scholars. One popular theory is that the word “Aztlán” does not come from the language of Nahuatl at all and that it is derived from the word “Atlantis.” It’s almost amusing to look at some of the parallels. A big island in the middle of a big lake could mean a large landmass in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The one version of the story that the Aztecs had to flee Aztlán to avoid a cataclysm that destroyed their homeland closely parallels Homer’s account of the sinking of Atlantis. While this romantic version of the story sounds appealing, we have the linguistic evidence to show that the language of the Aztecs was not based on a Hellenic language or any other language of the Classical Old World, but was firmly rooted in a language tree that was fixed in North America. No customs are found similar on either side of the Atlantic either. Some people may cite the pyramid, but the pyramids in Egypt are markedly different from those found in Mexico. As long as the exact location of Aztlán cannot be fixed, the Atlantis connection will be seen by some as viable.

If Aztlán really did exist, it is most likely that it was located somewhere in the northern or central parts of Mexico. In the states of Jalisco and Michoacan there are large lakes with islands in them and could fit the geography found in the tales. In 1887 Mexican anthropologist Alfredo Chavero asserted that Aztlán was on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Nayarit. Many contemporary anthropologists cite that the rounded mountain called Cerro de Culiacan is most likely a mountain featured in one of the chronicles as it fits the description of the mountain overlooking Aztlán and is located 150 leagues from Tenochtitlan as described in one of the early accounts.

One cannot discuss Aztlán without referencing the 1960s Chicano movement in the United States. Some scholars have claimed that the original homeland of the Aztecs was located on the US side of the border. The area including the salt lakes of Utah has been a solid candidate for this mythical land and is probably the most widely referenced place on this side of the border as a possible location. The whole idea of the Aztec people originating in the American Southwest has been integrated into the socio-political ideology of many Chicano and Mexican-American groups. Many organizations such as La Raza Unida, the Brown Berets, the Nation of Aztlán and even the university student-based group MEChA have the belief in a Southwestern US Aztlán as part of their foundations for activism. Many in those groups believe that because the Southwest was part of the original Aztec homeland that mestizo, indigenous and Mexican-American groups have legal and primordial rights to these now-American territories and should be able to set up their own separate nation in the Southwest. Much has been written on this topic and the modern Chicano connection to Aztlán goes way beyond the scope of this podcast.

Many believe that Aztlán is just a mythical and romantic place like Camelot, Shangri La or even the Garden of Eden, a place of purity that we would all like to return to someday, a paradise lost, a place of no cares and none of the complexities and tragedies of our modern world. While some investigators continue to press on and search for the exact geographical location of Aztlán, perhaps a place to start on our quest to find it begins in our hearts and souls.

REFERENCES (This is not a formal bibliography)

The Aztecs Then and Now by Fernando Horcasitas
The World of Aztecs by William H. Prescott
The Mighty Aztecs by Gene S. Stuart
Atlantis and the Garden of Eden by Frederick Dodson


Watch the video: Sound of Ancient Languages