Florentine Codex, Book 12, Ch 04

This is Book 12, Chapter 4 of the Florentine Codex, also known as the General History of the Things of New Spain. This particular book is about the Spanish invasion of Mexico in 1519 and their eventual consolidation of power in the capital. James Lockhart has provided us with his transcription of the Nahuatl and its translation to English. The facsimile images come from the World Digital Library, but the original is held in the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence, Italy. Brandon Preo has done the data entry, matching the Spanish, Nahuatl, and English texts to the images of the pages.

Principal editor: 
James Lockhart

Transcriptions and Translations

Analytic Transcription English Translation Spanish Translation
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 6r.] Inic naui capitulo: vncan mitoa in tlein ic tlaonaoati* Motecuçoma, in oquima in quenin çan oalmocuepque Españoles, inic vppa oallaque, iehoatl in don hernando Cortes. Quimilhui tla xioalhuian moceloquichtle, tla xioalhuian quil ie quene oquiçaco in totecuio tla xicnamiquiti, vel xitlacaquican, vel xinacaçocan, tlein quitoz, vel nacaztli in anquioalcuizque: iz catqui ic itech amacizque in totecuio. iehoatl in itlatqui Quetzalcoatl: coaxaiacatl, xiuhtica tlachioalli, Quetzalapanecaiotl, chalchiuhcozcapetlatl nepantla mantiuh teucuitlacomalli, yoan centetl chimalli, teucuitlatica nenepaniuhqui, anoço teucuitlaticaepnepaniuhqui, quetzaltençouhqui, yoā quetzalpanio; yoan tezcacuitlapilli quetzallo: auh inin tezcacuitlapilli, iuhquin xiuhchimallo tlaxiuhtzacutli, xiuhtica tlatzacutli, tlaxiuhçalolli, yoan chalchiuhcuecuextli, teucuitla coiollotoc: niman ie iehoatl xioatlatl, çan motquitica xivitl, iuhquin coatzontecome ---------- *TLAONAOATI. Read "tlanaoati." [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Fourth chapter, where it is said what orders Moteucçoma gave when he found out that the Spaniards had returned. The second time they came it was [with] don Hernando Cortés. He said to them, “Come, oh men of unique valor, do come. It is said that our lord has appeared at last. Do go to meet him; listen well, make good use of your ears, bring back in your ears a good record of what he says. Here is what you will take to our lord.” [First] were the appurtenances of Quetzalcoatl: a serpent mask, made of turquoise; a quetzal feather head fan; a plaited neck band of green stone beads, with a golden disk in the middle of it; and a shield with gold [strips] crossing each other, or with gold and seashells crossing, with quetzal feathers spread about the edge and with a quetzal-feather banner; and a mirror with quetzal feathers to be tied on his back; and this mirror for the back seemed to have a turquoise shield, with turquoise glued on it, and there were green stone neck bands with golden shells on them; then there was the turquoise spear thrower, entirely of turquoise, [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Fourth chapter, of what Moteucçoma decreed when he found out that the Spaniards had returned a second time; this was don Hernando Cortés. Moteucçoma spoke to the abovementioned, telling them, "Listen, I have been told that our lord Quetzalcoatl has arrived; go to receive him, and listen with great care to what he should say to you. See to it that you forget nothing he tells you. You see here these jewels that you are to present to him on my behalf, which are all the priestly accoutrements proper to him." First, a mask of turquoise mosaic work; this mask had, worked in the same stone, a snake folded upon itself and twisted, the bend of which was the tip of the nose, and the twisted part went as far as the forehead and was like the bridge of the nose; then the tail and the head went in different directions, and the head with one part of the body went over one eye in such a way that it formed an eyebrow, and the tail with part of the body went over the other eye, making another eyebrow. This mask was set in a large high crown, full of very beautiful, long, rich plumes, so that when one put the crown on one's head one also put the mask on one's face. It bore as an ornament a round, wide medallion of gold, attached to nine strings [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 6r.] Capitulo .4. de lo que proueyo Motecuçoma quando supo la segunda vez que los Españoles auian buelto: este fue don hernando cortes.  A los sobredichos hablo Motecuçoma y los dixo. Mirad que me an dicho que a llegado nuestro señor Quetzalcoatl yd y recebilde y oyd lo que os dixere con mucha diligencia mirad que no se os oluide nada de lo que os dixere veys aqui estas joyas que le presenteys de mi parte que son todos los atauios sacerdotales que a el le conuienen    primeramente vna mascara labrada de mosayco de turquesas tenia esta mascara labrada de las mismas piedras vna culebra doblada y retorcida cuya dublez era el pico de la nariz y lo retorcido yua hasta la frente era como lomo de la nariz luego se diuidia la cola de la cabeça y la cabeça con parte del cuerpo yua por sobre el vn ojo de manera que hazia ceja y la cola com parte del cuerpo yua por sobre el otro ojo y hazia otra ceja. Estaua esta mascara enxerida en vna corona alta y grāde llena de plumas ricas largas y muy hermosas de manera que poniendose la corona sobre la cabeça se ponia la mascara en la cara lleuaua por joel vna medalla de oro redonda y ancha estaua asida con nueue sartales
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 6v.] tica,* coatzontecome, yoan itzcactli. Inic vntlamantli quimacato, iehoatl in itlatqui catcaTezcatlipuca: hivitzoncalli, coztic teucuitlatica cicitlallo,yoan iteocuitlacoiolnacoch; yoan chipolcozcatl; elpancozcatl, cilin ic tlatlatlamachilli, ic tenchaiaoac; yoanxicolli, çan tlacuilolli, in itenixio, hivitica tenpoçonqui: yoan centetl tilmatli, xiuhtlalpilli, motocaiotiaia; tzitzilli, quioalnacazvitzana inic mocuitlalpia; no ipan mantiuh tezcacuitlapilli: yoā oc no centlamātli, teucuitlacoiolli, itlanitzco molpiaia, yoā centlamantli, iztac cactli. Inic etlamantli, iehoatl in inechichioal catca, Tlalocā tecutli: quetzalaztatzontli, çā moca quetzalli, motquiticaquetzalli, iuhquin xoxoquivi, xoxoquiuhtimani: auh inipan teucuitlatica epnepaniuhqui; yoan ichalchiuhcoa-nacoch; ixicol, tlachalchiuhicuilolli: in icozqui chal-chiuhcozcapetlatl no teucuitlacomallo, no tezcacuitlapile, in iuhqui omito, no tzitzile; tenchilnaoacaio in til ---------- *COATZONTECOMETICA. Rea "coatzontecomatica." [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] with a kind of serpent head; and there were obsidian sandals. The second set of things they went to give him were the appurtenances of Tezcatlipoca: a feather headpiece, covered with golden stars, and his golden bell earplugs; and a seashell necklace; the chest ornament, decorated with many small seashells, with its fringe made of them; and a sleeveless jacket, painted all over, with eyes on its border and teased feathers at the fringe; and a cloak with blue-green knots, called a tzitzilli, tied on the back by taking its corners, also with a mirror for the back over it, and another item, golden bells tied to the calves of the legs, and another item, white sandals. Third was the outfit of the lord of Tlalocan: the heron-feather headdress full of quetzal feathers, entirely of quetzal feathers, like a blue-green sheet, and over it [a strip of] shells crossed with [a strip of] gold; and his green stone serpent earplugs; his sleeveless jacket sprinkled with green stone; his necklace was a plaited green stone neck band, also with a gold disk, also with a mirror for the back, as was said before, also with tzitzilli; the cape [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] of precious stones that, when placed at the neck, covered the shoulders and the whole chest. They also took a large, round shield, embroidered with precious stones, with some golden bands that reached across its whole extent, from top to bottom, and other bands of pearls crossing over those of gold, from top to bottom over the whole extent; and in the spaces between these bands, which were like the mesh of a net, some little golden toads were placed. This shield had edgings below, and attached to the shield was a banner that projected from the handle, made of rich plumes. It also bore a large medallion made of mosaic work that they wore tied and girded at the small of the back. They also took some strings of precious stones, with some small golden bells interspersed among the stones, to be tied above the ankles. They also took a scepter, like a bishop's scepter, all covered with turquoise mosaic work, and the hook above was a head of a snake twisted or coiled. They also took some sandals like those the great lords are accustomed to wear. Second, they also took the ornaments or accoutrements with which Tezcatlipoca was outfitted, which was a headpiece made of rich plumes hanging down behind nearly to the waist, all sprinkled with golden stars. They also took some golden earplugs, from which hung some [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 6v.] de piedras preciosas que echadas al cuello cubrian los hombros y todo el pecho: lleuauā tanbien vna rodela grande bordada de piedras preciosas con vnas vandas de oro que llegauan de arriba abaxo por toda ella: y otras vandas de perlas atrauesadas sobre las de oro de arriba abaxo por toda ella y los espacios que haziā estas vandas los quales eran como mallas de red yvan puestos vnos sapitos de oro tenia esta rodela vnos rapacejos en lo baxo yva asido en la rodela vna vandera que salia deste la manixa de la rodela hecha de plumas ricas lleuaua tanbien vna medalla grande hecha de obra de mosaico que la lleuaua atada y ceñida sobre los lomos lleuaua tanbien vnos sartales de piedras preciosas cō vnos cascaueles de oro entrepuestos a las piedras para atar a la garganta de los pies lleuauā tanbien vn cetro como cetro de obispo todo labrado de obra de mosayco de tosquesas* y la buelta de arriba era vna cabeça de vna culebra rebuelta o enroscada. Tanbiē lleuauā vnas cotaras como los grādes señores se las suelen poner. 2ọ lleuaron tanbien los ornamentos o atauios con que se atauiaua Tezcatlipuca que era vna cabellera hecha de pluma rica que colgaua por la parte de tras hasta cerca de la cintura estaua sembrada toda de estrellas de oro, lleuauan tanbien vnas orejeras de oro que lleuauā colgadas vnos ---------- *TOSQUESAS. For "turquesas." The o for u is normal in Nahuatl writing in general and in this text in particular. The s for r may be a visual error; it may also be a simple mechanical error, because the word receives a standard spelling just above.
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 7r.] matli inic molpia: yoan icxicoiolli teucuitlatl: yoanicoatopil, xiuhtica tlachiuhtli. Inic nauhtlamantli çan ie no iehoatl in itlatqui catca Quetzalcoatl, ie ne centlamantli: Ocelocopilli, coxoliio; veitepul in chalchivitl yicpac ca ic quatzacutica; yoanxiuhnacochtli, malacachtic, itech pilcatica teucuitlaepcololli; yoan chalchiuhcozcapetlatl, çanno teucuitlacomalli in inepantla mantia; yoan tilmatli tentlapallo inicmolpia; çanno teucuitlacoiolli in icxi itech monequia: yoan chimalli teucuitlatica itixapo, quetzaltençouhqui, no quetzalpanio: yoā hecaxonecuilli, quacoltic, iztac chalchivitl inic citlallotoc yoan ipoçolcac. O ca izquitlamātli in, in moteneoa teutlatquitl, in in-tlatqui mochiuhtia titlanti, yoan oc cenca miec tlamantliin quitquique in intenamiquia Teucuitlaquatecciztli toz-tlapilollo, teucuitlacopilli .&. Niman ie ic tlatanatemalo, tlacacaxchichioalo. Auh in omoteneuhque macuiltin; niman ie ic quinnaoatia in Motecu [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] to tie on, with red rings at the border; and golden bells for the feet; and his serpent staff made of turquoise. Fourth were likewise appurtenances of Quetzalcoatl, but of a different kind: a miter of jaguar skin, covered with pheasant feathers; a very large green-stone at the top of it, glued on the tip; and round turquoise earplugs, from which hung curved golden seashells; and a plaited green-stone neckband, likewise with a golden disk in the middle of it; and a cloak to tie on, with a border dyed red; likewise, golden bells used on his feet; and a shield with golden inserted in it, with quetzal feathers spread along its edge, also with a quetzal-feather banner; and the curved staff of the wind [god], bent at the top, sprinkled with white green-stone stars; and his foam sandals. These then were the things, called gods’ appurtenances, that the messengers carried with them, and they took many other things by way of greeting: a shell-shaped gold headpiece with yellow parrot feathers hanging from it, a golden miter, etc. Then baskets were filled and carrying frames were adjusted. And then Moteucçoma gave orders to the aforementioned five [emissaries], [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] little golden bells and strings of small, beautiful white seashells. From these strings hung a hide that was like a breastplate; they wore it attached in such a way that it covered the chest down to the waist. This breastplate bore many small seashells hung sprinkled all over it. They also took a corselet of painted white cloth; the lower edge of this corselet had embroidered on it three strips of white feathers going all around. They took a rich cloak, the cloth of which was a light blue; it was embroidered above with many designs of a very fine blue. This cloak was called a tzitzilli. This cloak was placed at the waist, tied by its corners to the body. Over this cloak went a mosaic medallion, tied to the body at the small of the back. They also took some strings of small golden bells to be tied above the ankles, and also some white sandals such as the lords used to wear. They also took the accoutrements and ornaments of the god whom they called Tlalocan teuctli, which was a mask with its plumage, like the one mentioned above, with a banner, like the one abovementioned. Also some wide earplugs of chalchihuitl, which had inside some little snakes of chalchihuitl stone. Also a painted corselet with green embroidery, and some strings of precious stones, or necklace, with a medallion of precious stones. And they also took a medallion girded on at the small of the back, like the one mentioned above, with a rich cloak girded on as was said above, and small golden bells to be put at the feet, and his staff like the one above. [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 7r.] cascauellitos de oro y sartales de caracolitos marinos blancos y hermosos destos sartales colgaua vn cuero que era como peto y lleuauale ceñido de manera que cubría todo el pecho hasta la cintura, lleuaua este peto muchos caracolitos sembrados y colgados por todo el: lleuauā tanbien vn cosete de tela blanca pintado la orilla de abaxo deste cosete yva bordada com plumas blancas tres listas por todo el rededor: lleuauā vna manta rica la tela della era van açul claro y toda labrada encima de muchos labores de vn açul muy fino llamauase esta manta tzitzilli esta manta se ponia por la cintura atada por las esquinas al cuerpo sobre esta manta, yva vna medalla de mosayco, atada al cuerpo sobre los lomos. Tābien lleuauā vnos sartales de cascaueles de oro para atar a las gargantas de los pies: y también vnas cotaras blancas, como los señores las solian traer. lleuaron tanbien los atauios, y ornamentos, del dios que llamauan tlalocan tecutli, que era vna mascara con su plumaje, como la que se dixo arriba, con vna vādera, como la que arriba se dixo. Tambien vnas orejeras de chalchiuitl, anchas que tenia dētro vnas culebritas de chalchiuites: y tanbien vn cosete pintado de labores verdes, y vnos sartales, o collar de piedras preciosas, con vna medalla de piedras preciosas: y tanbien lleuauan vna medalla, con que se cenia los lomos, como la que arriba se dixo, con vna manta rica con que se cenia, como se dixo arriba, y cascaueles de oro pa poner a los pies, y su baculo como el de arriba.
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 7v.] çoma:* quimilhui. Tla xivian, ma cana anvecauhti, xicmotlatlauhtilican** in totecuio in teutl: xiquilhuican, ca otechalioa in motechiuhcauh Motecuçoma: iz catqui mitzalmomaquilia, ca omaxitico in ichātzinco mexico: Auh in oacito atenco, quimōpanavique, acaltica quimonvicaque in xicalanco: ie no ceppa vncan oneoaq¯ acaltica quinvicaque in atlaca, moch onmacalaqui, onmacalten, conacaltenque in tlatquitl. Auh in ontlaacaltemaloc, niman ie ic vi, ommatoctique, itech onacito inimacal, itech compachoque in imacal. nimā quinoalilhuique. Ac ameoan? campa anoallaque? niman iuh quinnanquilique. Ca vmpa tioallaque in Mexico: oc ceppa quinoalilhuique. Acaçomo, aço çan vmpaanmotlamia, aço çan anquipiqui, aço çā toca anmoca-caiaoa. Auh in o vel yiollo macic, in o iniollo pachiuh. Niman ic quioaliacatzopinique in acalli, tepuztopiltica, icquinoaltilinique: niman no quioalquetzque ecaoaztli. ---------- *MOTECUCOMA. Read "Motecuçoma." **XICMOTLATLAUHTILICAN. The verb tlatlauhtia can mean either "to pray to" or "to address politely." In chap. 5 it clearly has the latter meaning. [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] saying to them, “Now go, don’t tarry anywhere, and address yourselves to our lord the god. Tell him, ‘Your agent Moteucçoma has sent us; here is what he is giving you. You have arrived in Mexico, your home.’” And when they reached the coast, they were taken across [a river or inlet] by boat at Xicalanco. There again they left by boat, taken by the water folk. Everything went into the boats; the goods were placed in boats. And when the boats were full, they left. They launched off and reached [the Spaniards’] boat[s], bringing their own boat close. Then [the Spaniards] said to them, “Who are you? Where have you come from?” Then [the emissaries] answered them, “Why, we have come from Mexico.” Again [the Spaniards] replied to them, “Perhaps not. Perhaps you are just claiming to be from there, perhaps you are making it up, perhaps you are deceiving us.” But when they were convinced and satisfied, they hooked the prow of the boat with an iron staff and hauled them in; then they also put down a ladder. [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Other ornaments that they took belonged to Quetzalcoatl as well: a miter of jaguar skin, and from the miter hung onto the shoulders a large hood made of crow feathers; the miter bore a large round chalchihuitl at its tip. Also some round earplugs of turquoise mosaic, with a golden hook coming from the earplug. They also took a golden necklace, from which hung a gold medallion that they call an ecacozcatl, and a rich cloak to gird around one, and some small golden bells for the feet, and a round shield that had a round plate of gold in the middle. This shield was edged with rich plumes; from the lower part of the shield projected a band of rich plumes in the fashion mentioned above. They took a staff encrusted with turquoise mosaic, and in the curve above were set some rich stones or fine pearls, in the highest part of the top. They also took some sandals such as the lords used to wear. The messengers took all these things and presented them, according to what they say, to don Hernando Cortés. They presented to him many other things not written here, such as a golden miter made in the fashion of a seashell, with some edgings of rich plumes that hung down toward the shoulders, and another plain miter, also of gold, and other gold jewels not written down. They put all these things in their containers, and as they took leave of Moteucçoma he told them, "Go quickly, do not dally, and in my name worship the god who is coming. Tell him, "Your servant Moteucçoma has sent us here. He sends you these things that we carry here, for you have come to your home, which is Mexico.'" The messengers then took to the road, arriving at the seashore, where they entered canoes and reached a place called Xicalanco; from there they again entered in different canoes, with all their gear, and reached the ships. Then they were asked from the ships, "Who are you, and where have you come from?" Those in the canoe said, "We come from Mexico." Those of the ship said, "Perhaps you are not from Mexico, but you are falsely saying that you are from Mexico and deceiving us." They talked back and forth over this, and when each side had satisfied the other, they hauled the canoe to the ship and put down a ladder for them, with which they climbed up into the ship where don Hernando Cortés was. [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 7v.] Otros ornamentos, tanbien que llamauan era del mismo. Quetzalcoatl, vna mitra de cuero de tigre, y colcagaua* de la mitra, sobre las espaldas, vna capilla grande, hecha de plumas de cueruo, lleuaua la mitra vn chalchiuitl grāde: y redondo, en la punta. Y tambien vnas orejeras redondas, de mosayco de turquesas con vn garavato de oro, que salia de la orejera, lleuauan tanbien, vn collar de oro, del qual colgaua vna medalla de oro, que llaman hecacozcatl, y vna manta rica, con que se cenia, y vnos cascaueles de oro para los pies, y vna rodela q̄ tenia en el medio vna plancha de oro redonda: la qual rodela estaua bordada com plumas ricas en lo baxo de la rodella** salia vna vanda de plumas ricas en la forta*** que se dixo arriba lleuaua vn baculo labrado de mosayco de turquesas y en la buelta de arriba puestas vnas piedras ricas o perlas enminentes en lo alto de arriba. Tanbien, lleuauan vnas cotaras, como los señores las solian traer: Todas estas cosas lleuauā los mensajeros y las presentaron segun dizen a don Hernando cortes, otras muchas cosas le presentaron que no se escriuen como fue vna mitra de oro hecha a manera de caracol marisco cō vnas rapacejos de plumas ricas que colgauan hazia las espaldas y otra mitra llana: Tanbiē de oro, y otras joias de oro que no se escriuen. Todas estas cosas metieron en sus petacas, y tomada la licencia de Motecuçoma dixoles yd cō priesa y no os detengays y adorad en mi nombre al dios que viene, y dezilde aca nos a embiado v̄r̄o sieruo Motecuçoma, estas cosas que aqui traemos os embia pues aveys venido a v̄r̄a casa que es mexico. Tomarō luego el camino los mensajeros, y llegarō a la orilla de la mar, y alli entraron en canoas, y llegarō a v̄ lugar que se llama Xicalanco, dalli tornarō, otra uez a entrar ē otras canoas, có todo su hato, y llegarō a los nauios; luego los pregūtarō de los nauios. Quienes soys vosotros de dōde aveys venido: dixerō los de la canoa, Venimos de mexico y dixeron los de la nao. Por uētura no soys de mexico? Sino dezis cō falsidad q̄ soys de mexico y no os enganays. Y sobre esto tomaron, y dierō y desq̄ se satisficierō lo vnos a los otros juntaron la canoa cōn el nauio y echarōlos vna escalera con q̄ subierō al nauio donde estaua don hernādo Cortes. ---------- *COLCAGAUA. For "colgaua." **RODELLA. For "rodela." ***FORTA. Possibly for "suerte."