A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 764 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04.
on the Tlascalan territories.  They described the city of Mexico as of great strength, being built in the lake, and only accessible by narrow causeways, with wooden bridges, and having no access to most of its houses but by drawbridges or boats.  They described the arms of the Mexicans as consisting of double-headed darts, which were projected by a kind of slings, lances having stone heads, an ell in length, and both edges as sharp as a razor, and two-handed swords, edged likewise with sharp stones, besides shields and other defensive armour.  The chiefs shewed large nequen cloths, on which their various battles were represented, with all those different kinds of weapons.  They alleged that their country was anciently inhabited by a people of great stature and very barbarous manners, who had been extirpated by their ancestors, and produced a thigh-bone which they said had belonged to one of these giants.  I stood by it, and it equalled my height, though I am as tall as most men.  We sent this bone to Spain for the inspection of his majesty.  The chiefs told us that their idols had long ago predicted, that a people was to arrive from the distant lands where the sun rises, and to subdue their country, and they believed we were those to whom the prediction applied.  Cortes said that this was certainly the case, and that our great emperor had sent us to establish a lasting friendship between our nation and them, and to be the instruments of shewing them the only way of Salvation:  To which we all said Amen!

While we were in Tlascala a volcano near Guaxocingo threw out great quantities of flames, and Diego de Ordas went up to examine it, attended by two Spanish soldiers, and some of the principal Indians.  The natives declined going any nearer to the volcano than the temples of Popocatepeque, but De Ordas and his two Spanish comrades ascended to the summit of the mountain, and looked down into the crater, which is a circle of near a quarter of a league diameter.  From this peak also, they had a distant view of the city of Mexico, which was twelve or thirteen leagues from the mountain.  This was considered as a great feat, and De Ordas, on his return to Spain, got royal authority to bear this volcano in his arms, which is now borne by his nephew who dwells in La Puebla.  This volcano did not throw out flames for a good many years afterwards, but it flamed with great violence in 1530.  We observed many wooden cages in the city of Tlascala, in which the victims intended for sacrifice were confined and fattened; but we destroyed all these, releasing the unhappy prisoners, who remained along with us, as they dared not to return to their own homes.  Cortes spoke very angrily to the Tlascalan chiefs, exhorting them to abolish this horrible custom of human sacrifices, and they promised amendment; but immediately, on our backs being turned, they resumed their ancient abominations.

[1] Clavigero says that Cortes had some troops of the Totanacas, among
    whom were forty nobles, serving at the same time as auxiliaries, and
    as hostages for the fidelity of their nation.—­Clavig.  II. 30.

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