I, BERNAL DIAZ DEL CASTILLO, regidor of the loyal city of Guatemala, while composing this most true history of the conquest of Mexico, happened to see a work by Francisco Lopez de Gomara on the same subject, the elegance of which made me ashamed of the vulgarity of my own, and caused me to throw away my pen in despair. After having read it, however, I found it full of misrepresentations of the events, having exaggerated the number of natives which we killed in the different battles, in a manner so extraordinary as to be altogether unworthy of credit. Our force seldom much exceeded four hundred men, and even if we had found the multitudes he speaks of bound hand and foot, we had not been able to put so many to death. In fact we were often greatly at a loss to protect ourselves, and were daily reduced to pray to God for deliverance from the many perils which environed us on every side. Alaric and Atilla, those great conquerors, did not slay such numbers of their enemies as Gomara pretends we did in New Spain. He alleges that we burned many cities and temples, forgetting that any of us, the true conquerors, were still alive to contradict his assertions. He often magnifies the merit of one officer at the expence of another, and even speaks of the exploits of some captains who were not engaged in the expedition. He pretends that Cortes gave secret orders for the destruction of our ships; whereas this was done by the common consent of us all, that we might add the seamen to our small military force. He most unjustly depreciates the character of Juan de Grijalva, who was a very valiant commander. He omits the discovery of Yucutan by Hernandez de Cordova. He erroneously supposes Garay to have been actually in the expedition which he fitted out. His account of the defeat of Narvaez is sufficiently accurate; but that which he gives of the war of Tlascala is exceedingly erroneous. He treats the war in Mexico as a matter of little importance, though we there lost above 870 of our soldiers. He makes no mention of our loss during the memorable siege of that city, but treats of it as of a festival or a marriage pageant.
It is needless to enlarge on his numerous errors in this place. I shall therefore proceed to my own narrative, ever mindful that the beauty of historical composition is truth, and shall carefully relate the conquest of New Spain, recording the heroic services of us the true conquerors; who, though few in number, gained this rich country to his majesty through many dangers and infinite hardships, under the guidance of the brave and adventurous captain, HERNANDO CORTES; using in my work such ornament and embellishment of language as may seem proper to the occasion. For these great services, his majesty has often issued orders that we should be amply rewarded, but his orders have not hitherto been obeyed. My narrative will afford sufficient materials for future historians to celebrate the fame of our general, Cortes, and the