Florentine Codex, Book 12, Ch 05

This is Book 12, Chapter 5 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. 8r.] Inic macuilli capitulo: vncan mitoa in tlein muchiuh, in iquac ititlanoan motecuçoma in vmpa callacque in iacalco don hernando Cortes. Niman ie ic tleco, quinanapalotivi in tlatquitl: in otlecoto acalco ceceniaca ontlalquatimani yixpan in capitan: Niman ie ic contlatlauhtia: quilhuique: Ma quimocaquilti in teutl: ca quioalmotlatlauhtilia initechiuhcauh Motecuçoma in cōmotlapielilia mexico; caconitoa. Oquimihiovilti, oquimociavilti in teutl: niman ie ic quichichioa in capitan vel iehoatl conaquique in xiuhcoaxaiacatl, itech ietiuh in quetzalapanecaiotl, yoan itech ieietiuh, itech aactiuh, itech pipilcatiuh chalchiuhcoanacochtli: yoan conaquique xicolli, conxicoltique, yoan concozcatique in chalchiuhcozcapetlatl nepantla mantiuh in teucuitlacomalli, ic conxillancuitlalpique in tezcacuitlapilli, no ic contzinapanque in tilmatli in itoca tzitzilli, yoan [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Fifth chapter, where it is said what happened when Moteucçoma’s messengers went into don Hernando Cortés’s boat. Then they climbed up, carrying in their arms the goods. When they had gotten up into the boat, each of them made the earth-eating gesture before the Captain. Then they addressed him, saying: “May the god attend: his agent Moteucçoma who is in charge in Mexico for him addresses him and says,‘The god is doubly welcome.’” Then they dressed up the Captain. They put on him the turquoise serpent mask attached to the quetzal-feather head fan, to which were fixed, from which hung the green-stone serpent earplugs. And they put the sleeveless jacket on him, and around his neck they put the plaited green-stone neck band with the golden disk in the middle. On his lower back they tied the back mirror, and also they tied behind him the cloak called a tzitzilli. And [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Fifth chapter, of what happened when the messengers of Moteucçoma entered Captain don Hernando Cortés's ship. They began to climb up into the ship by the ladder, carrying the presents that Moteucçoma had ordered them to take. When they were before don Hernando Cortés, they all kissed the ground in his presence and spoke to him in the following manner: "May the god, whom we come to worship in person, know from his servant Moteucçoma, who rules and governs his city of Mexico for him, that he says that the god has had a difficult journey." Then they took out the ornaments that they carried and put them on Captain don Hernando Cortés, outfitting him with them. First they put on him the crown and mask mentioned above, and [then] all the rest. They placed around his neck the necklaces of stones with golden baubles. On his left arm they placed the shield mentioned above. All the other things they put before him, laid out as they customarily do with their presents. The captain said to them, "Is there anything more than this?" They told him, "Our lord, we have not brought more than the things that are here." Then the captain ordered them bound, and he ordered the artillery pieces fired. When the messengers, whose hands and feet were tied, heard the thunder of the cannon, they fell to the floor as if dead. The Spaniards raised them from [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 8r.] Capitulo quinto de los que paso quando los mensajeros de Motecuçoma entraron en el nauio del capitan don hernando cortes.  Començaron a subir al nauio, por la escalera: y lleuauan el presente que Motecuçoma. los mando lleuar como estuuieron delante de don Hernando cortes: besaron todos la tierra en su presencia, y hablaronse desta manera;  sepa el dios a quien venimos a adorar en persona de su sieruo Motecuçoma, el qual le rige, y gouierna, la su ciudad de mexico. Y dize a llegado con trabaxo el dios:  y luego sacarō los ornamentos que lleuauan: y se los pusieron al capitan don hernādo cortes atauiandole con ellos pusieronle primeramente la corona, y mascara que arriba se dixo: y todo lo demas echarōle al cuello los collares de piedras que lleuauā con los joeles de oro pusieronle en el braço yzquierdo, la rodela de q̄ se dixo arriba:  y todas las otras cosas se las pusierō delante ordenadas como suelen poner sus presentes  el capitan les dixo. Ay otra cosa as que esto?  dixerole señor nuestro, no emos traydo mas cosas destas que aq̓ estan.  El capitan mandolos luego atar: y mando soltar tiros de artilleria, y los mensajeros que estauā atados de pies, y manos como oyerō los truenos de las lombardas, cayeron en el suelo, como muertos: y los españoles leuātaronlos 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 8v.] icxic contlalilique in chalchiuhtecuecuextli teucuitlacoiollo: yoan conmacaque imac cōmanilique chimalli teucuitlatica nenepaniuhqui, yoan epnepaniuhcaio, quetzaltençouhtiuh quetzalpaniotiuh yoan ixpā contemilique itzcactli. Auh in oc etlamantli nechichioalli, teutlatquitl, çanixpan contecpāque, convipanque: auh in ie iuhqui, quimilhui in capitā. Cuix ie ixquichin, in amotenamiquia, in amotetechacia? quinnanquilique ca ie ixquich inic tioallatiaque totecue. Niman tlanaoati in capitan inic ilpiloque, tepoztliimicxic quintlalilique, yoan inquechtlan: in ie iuhqui niman ic quitlazque in tomaoac tlequiquiztli: auh intitlanti in iquac in vel iolmicque, yoan çoçotlaoaque, vehuetzque, nenecuiliuhtivetzque, aocmo quimatque: auh in españoles quimeeuhq¯ quimeeoatitlalique, quimoniitique vino: nimā ie ic quintla [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] on his legs they placed the green-stone bands with the golden bells. And they gave him, placing it on his arm, the shield with gold and shells crossing, on whose edge were spread quetzal feathers, with a quetzal banner. And they laid the obsidian sandals before him. And the other three outfits, the gods’ appurtenances, they only arranged in rows before him. When this had been done, the Captain said to them, “Is this everything you have by way of greeting and rapprochement?” They answered, “That is all with which we have come, oh our lord.” Then the Captain ordered that they be tied up; they put irons on their feet and necks. When this had been done they shot off the cannon. And at this point the messengers truly fainted and swooned; one after another they swayed and fell, losing consciousness. And the Spaniards lifted them into a sitting position and gave them wine to drink. Then they gave them food, [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] the floor and gave them wine to drink, with which they invigorated them, and they revived. After this Captain don Hernando Cortés told them through his interpreter, "Hear what I tell you: I have been told that the Mexica are valiant men, great battlers and fighters, very dexterous with weapons. They tell me that a single Mexica is enough to overcome ten or twenty of his enemies. [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 8v.] del suelo, y dieronles a bever vino con que los esforçaron: y tornaron en si. Despues desto el capitan don hernādo cortes les dixo por su interprete oyd lo que os digo: anme dicho que los mexicanos son valientes hombres que son grandes peleadores: y grādes luchadores son muy diestros en las armas dizenme que vn solo mexicano es bastante para vencer a diez: y a veynte de sus enemigos.
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 9r.] maca, quintlaqualtique, ic imihio quicuique, ic oalihiocuique: auh in ie iuhqui in, niman quimilhui in capitan. Tlaxiccaquican, onicma, oniccac, quilmach in iehoantin mexica cenca chicaoaque, cenca tiacaoan, cenca maiavini, intla ce mexicatl vel quintocaz, vel quintopeoaz, vel quinpanaviz, vel quinteputztiz in manel matlactin, inmanel noço centecpantin in iiaovan. Auh in axcan noiollo pachiviznequi, namechittaznequi, namechieiecoznequi, in quenin anchicaoaque, in quenin antlapalivi; nimā ic quinoalmacac eoachimalli, yoan tepuzmacquavitl, yo tepuztopilli: auh inin vel oc iovatzinco, tlavizcalpan in muchioaz, in titomaiztlacozque, titoneuhcavizque, tinevivicantlamatizque, ac ie tlani vetziz: quinanquilique in Capitan: quilhuique. Tla quimocaquitin tlacatl, achcamo ic technaoati in itechiuhcauh in Motecuçoma; ca çan tiquixcavico in tictociauhquechi [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] fed them, with which they regained strength and got their breath back. When this had been done the Captain said to them, “Do listen, I have found out and heard that by what they say these Mexica are very strong, great warriors, able to throw others down. Where there is one of them he can chase, push aside, overcome, and turn back his enemies, even though there should be ten or twenty. Now I wish to be satisfied, I want to see you, I want to try out how strong and manly you are.” Then he gave them leather shields, iron swords, and iron lances. [He said,] “Well now, very early in the morning, as dawn is about to come, we will struggle against each other, we will challenge each other, we will find out by comparison who will fall down first.” They answered the Captain, saying, “May the lord pay heed, this is not at all what his agent Moteucçoma ordered us. All we came to do was to greet [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] I want to try you out and see if this is true, if you are as strong as I have been told." Then he ordered that they be given swords and shields to fight with an equal number of Spaniards to see who would overcome the others. Then the Mexica said to Captain don Hernando Cortés, "May your grace hear our excuse why we cannot do what you order us, which is that Moteuccpma our lord sent us here for nothing else than to greet you and give you this present. We cannot do anything else, nor can we do what you order us. If we should do it, our lord Moteucçoma would become greatly angered and would have us killed." The captain replied [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 9r.] Quiero prouaros, si es esto verdad si soys tan fuertes como me an dicho: luego les mādo dar espadas y rodelas para que peleasen con otros tantos españoles para ver quien venceria a los otros.  Y los mexicanos dixeron luego al capitā don hernādo cortes, oyanos v̄r̄a merced n̄r̄a escusa porque no podemos hazer lo que nos mandays: y es porque Motecuçoma n̄r̄o señor no nos embio a otra cosa sino a saludaros y a daros este presente, no podemos hazer otra cosa, ni podemos hazer lo que nos mandays: y si lo hizieremos enojarse a mucho n̄r̄o señor Motecuçoma, y mandarnos a matar:  y el capitan res 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 9v.] lico, in tictotlapalhuico, ca amo tonaoatil in quimonequiltia tlacatl: auh intla iuh ticchioazque, cuix amocenca ic qualaniz in Motecuçoma, amo ic techtlatlatiz. Niman quito in capitan ca amo ca ça mochioaz niquittaznequi, nicmaviçoznequi ca in omachiztito in castillan quil cenca anchicaoaque, antiiacaoan, ma ocveca ioac in xitlaquacan, oc no ioan in nitlaquaz, ma vel ximochichioacā. [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] and salute you. We were not charged with what the lord wishes. If we should do that, won’t Moteucçoma be very angry with us because of it, won’t he destroy us for it?” Then the Captain said, “No indeed; what I want is simply to be done. I want to behold it, for word has gone to Spain that you are very strong, great warriors. Eat while it is still before dawn, and I will eat then too. Outfit yourselves well.” [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] to them, "What I tell you is to be done in any case. I must see how manly you are, for in our land we have heard that you are valiant men. Equip yourself with these weapons and prepare yourselves so that tomorrow, the first thing in the morning, we will meet on the field." [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 9v.] pondioles, ase de hazer en todo caso lo que os digo tengo de ver que hōbre soys: que alla en nuestra tierra emos oydo que soys valientes hombres aparajaos con esas armas y disponeos para que mañana luego de mañana nos veamos en el campo.