The end of the Aztec Empire

Finally, the last day arrived, the ce coatl of the twenty Tlaxochimaco of the year yei Calli of the Mexica, and Tuesday, August 13, 1521, the day of St. Hippolyte of the Spaniards. Seventy-five days of the siege were completed there, although the Mexica manuscripts count eighty, no doubt because they also include those that mediated between the arrival at the fence of Alvarado and Olid and that of Cortés.

At dawn Sandoval marched with the brigantines to occupy the lagoon; Alvarado had to advance from the market and Cortés left his real with the three iron cannons, sure that his shots would force the besieged to surrender and would do them less harm than the fury of the allies. In his march he found many dying men, haggard women and emaciated children heading for the Spanish countryside: some of these miserable people, by leaving their countryside, had thrown themselves into the water of the canals or had fallen into them pushed by others, and not a few drowned.

Cortés ordered that they should not be harmed, but the allies stole them and killed more than fifteen thousand people. The priests and the strong warriors were impassive, skinny from hunger and work, armed with all their weapons and insignia, waiting for combat at the top of the temples, on the rooftops, or standing in their canoes. Cortés, in turn, climbed on an immediate rooftop to the lagoon to witness the operations.

There he again offered peace to the canoeists and insisted that he come and talk to him Cuauhtémoc. They were ready to go two main, and after a long time, Cihuacoatl returned with them to tell him that their king did not want to talk about peace. About five hours had passed in this, and Cortes ordered the cannon fire to be broken. It would be three o’clock in the afternoon when the snail of Cuauhtémoc was heard for the last time: the Mexica rushed to the east and south on their opponents and the canoes were thrown on the brigantines.

It was that Cuauhtemoc, no longer humanly able to resist, undertook the escape rather than surrender, and to achieve it distracted the attention of their opponents. While they attended the combat and destroying the Mexica penetrated their last refuge in the south and east and Sandoval was used to destroy the fleet of canoes, Cuauhtémoc with Tecuichpoch and the main dignitaries went out in canoes of the Tlacochcalco and a ditch that we believe still exists behind Santa Ana, and went to the channel of the West, where everything rowing won the lake going to the opposite shore to seek refuge in the Cuauhtlálpan.

But Garcia Holguin observed the canoes of the fugitives, and holding out the candles of his brig put himself in their reach: he already had them with a shot, and crossbowmen and arquebusiers were going to shoot from the bow, when Cuauhtemoc stood up and said to them: “Don’t shoot, I am the king of Mexico; take me and take me to Malintzin but let no one touch the queen. With Cuauhtemoc went Tetlepanquetzáltzin, king of Tlacópan, the Cihuacoatl Atlacótzin, the Tlillancalqui Petláuhtzin, the Huitznáhuatl Motelchiútzin, the Mexicatecuihtli, the Tecuhtlamacazqui, Huanítzin, Acamapich, Oquiztzin, Cohuátzin, Tlatlati and Tlazolyaotl, the only dignitaries, great priests and principals who had survived. All were transshipped to the brigantine, which tacked aboard for the island. On the way, he met the one mounted by Sandoval, and he, as chief of the navy, demanded that the royal prisoner is delivered to him, and as Holguín resisted, a long and angry dispute between the two arose. Knowing of all Cortes by another brigantine who came forward to ask for albricias, dispatched the captains Luis Marin and Francisco de Lugo to bring Cuauhtemoc without further delay, offering to settle the dispute later injustice.

Cortes, as we have said, was on the roof of a house in the district of Amaxac, a house that belonged to a principal called Aztacoátzin. He dressed it with blankets and mats of beautiful colours to receive the captive imperial. Next to him were Marina and Aguilar, Pedro de Alvarado and Cristóbal Olid. The prisoners arrived, led by Sandoval and Holguín. Cortes rose, and with noble respect of the victor to the unfortunate hero, embraced Cuauhtemoc with tenderness. Filling his eyes with tears, and putting his hand on the handle of the dagger of the Conqueror, he said the following words, with which a king succumbed with his race, with his homeland and with his gods:

“-Malintzin, for I have done all that I did in defense of my city and my people, and I come by force and prisoner before your person and power, then take this dagger and kill me with it.

Already the afternoon died, promising a storm, and among red clouds like blood, the fifth Mexica sun sank forever behind the mountains.

Painting: “Pasion and death of Cuauhutémoc” by Leandro Izaguirre (CDMX, 1867-1941).

Unauthorized translation of the original article in Spanish published on April 2nd, 2019. At the online Magazin Proceso written by Alfredo Chavero 

Source: La derrota de Cuauhtémoc.

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