Florentine Codex, Book 12, Ch 22

This is Book 12, Chapter 22 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 digital facsimile comes 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. 37r., cont.] Inic cempoalli omume capitulo: vncā mitoa in quenin machiztico in ie vitz capitan don hernādo Cortes inic oalmocuepaia mexico. In omachiztico in ie vitz in Capitan tepeiacacpa inquiçaco, miequintin in quinoalhuicac in Españoles yoancenca miequintin in tlaxcalteca yoā in cempoalteca vel miequintin vel ixachin, vel ixachintin, vel tonac, veltonaque: amo çaniuh vallaque, valiauiaque, valmotlaviztitiaque, valmoiauchichiuhtiaque, inchichimal, inmamaquauh, inmamavitzoc quiquequequechotivitze, teuhtli quioalq¯tztiaque, omach iixtlaliuhque omach yixtenexiuhque, omach moca tlalloaque,* omach teteuhquimiliuhque, ça moca tlaltin, omach cocotztlaloaq̄, ---------- *MOCA TLALLOAQUE. The word “moca” seems superfluous in this expression, and indeed one would have expected “tlalloque” rather than “tlalloaque.” [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Twenty-second chapter, where it is said how it became known that Captain don Hernando Cortés was on the way here, coming back to Mexico. It became known that the Captain was on the way here, coming from the direction of Tepeyacac; he brought many Spaniards and a great many Tlaxcalans and people of Cempoallan. There were very many, a great number, an abundance and multitude. They did not come in their ordinary garb, they came to do battle, with their devices and their war gear, their shields, their war clubs, their strong pointed sticks that they came shouldering. They came stirring up dust, with their faces all covered with earth and ash, full of dirt, wrapped in dust, dirty. [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Chapter Twenty-two, of how news came that Captain don Hernando Cortés had bested Panfilo de Narváez and was already returning in the direction of Mexico with many Spaniards who had newly arrived. With things being in the state said above, news came that Captain don Hernando Cortés was coming in great haste with many Spaniards and many Indians of Cempohuallan and Tlaxcala, all armed and ready for war. The Mexica agreed among themselves that they would all hide and not come out to meet them, either with hostilities or in peace. The Spaniards with all of their friends went straight toward the royal palace, where the Spaniards were. The Mexica were all looking, hidden so the Spaniards would not see them. They did this to let it be understood that they had not begun the war. When the Captain and all the other people entered the [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 37r.] Capitulo .22. de como llego la nueua de como El capitan don hernando cortes auiendo vencido a Panphilo de narbaez boluia ya para mexico: con otros muchos Españoles que de nueuo auian venido.  Estando las cosas como arriba se dixo: vino nueua como el capitan Don hernando cortes, venia con muchos Españoles, y con muchos indios de Cempoalla, y de Tlaxcalla: todos armados, y a punto de guerra y con gran priesa: y los mexicanos concertaron entre si, de absconderse, todos: y no los salir a recebir ni de guerra ni de paz: y los españoles con todos los demas amigos, fueronse derechos; hazia las casas reales, donde estauan los Españoles.  Y los mexicanos todos estauan mirando y ascōdidos, que no los viesen: los Españoles. Y esto hazian por dar a entender que ellos no auian començado la guerra:  y como entro el Capitan con toda la otra gente en las 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 37v.] cenca oalmotlaloa, cenca oalhuicini, motzatzatzilitivi: quitotivi. vallatotoca tlaxcaltecae, cempoaltecae. Auh in Mexica monaoatique, inic amo quinmottitizque, çā motlatizque, minaiazque, iuhquin tlalli mictimotecac, aocac naoati, tel hoallachielotoc in tlatzacuilcamac, yoan tepancamac, yoan tlacoiocco achi quicocoionique in tepantli, inic vmpa ontlachie: çan iehoan in otenoaque, in otentli quitocatoque in iuh quichiuhque:auh in calnepantla onoque amo iuh quichiuhque. Auhintla quimittani in cana quexquichtin mani, tepeuhtimani, in tiacaoan, ca iniol iuh tlamatizquia in Españoles:ca in mexica iehoan quipeoaltia, iehoan quitzintia, iehoan inpeoal in iauiotl. Auh in ie iuhqui in ocalaquito vei tecpan: niman ie icquitlatlaça in tlequiquiztli: auh in ie iuhqui, nimā ie ic oalquiça [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] They came running very fast, making great haste, shouting as they went, saying,“Everyone is running along, oh Tlaxcalans, oh Cempoalans!” And the Mexica told each other that they would not show themselves to them, but hide themselves and take shelter, as though it were the middle of the night. No one made a sound, but everyone was looking out from doorway openings, openings in walls, and holes where they had pierced the walls a little in order to see out from there. Only those who had places at the side of the road, which followed the roadside, did this; those who lived in the interior of house complexes did not. If the Spaniards had seen how many warriors there were in places, piled together, they would have realized that the Mexica would start and commence the battle, that it would be on their initiative. And when they had entered the great palace, they fired the guns. When this happened, then [the Mexica] came out [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] palace, they began to fire the guns to show their joy over those who had arrived and to inspire fear in the enemy. Then the Mexica began to show themselves, let out war cries, and fight against the Spaniards, hurling arrows and darts at them, and the Spaniards likewise began to fight, shooting arrows and firearms. Many Mexica were killed; all of the Spaniards' shots were very well aimed; there was never a shot that failed to kill someone. When the Mexica saw the damage they were receiving from the Spaniards, they began to zigzag to escape the guns, and to go sideways. They gave battle against the houses where the Spaniards were for four days straight. After these four days the Mexica captains chose many veteran soldiers and brave men, who climbed up on a cu, the one that was closest to the royal palace, and they hoisted two round beams up there, to hurl them down onto the palace in order to cause it to collapse so that they could enter. [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 37v.] casas reales començaron a soltar todos los tiros en alegria de los que auian llegado, y para atemorzar a los contrarios: y luego començaron los mexicanos a mostrarse y a dar alaridos y a pelear contra los españoles, echando saetas, y dardos cōtra ellos: y los Españoles ansimismo començaron a pelear tirar saetas y tiros de polbora, fueron muertos muchos de los mexicanos tirauan los españoles todos sus tierras* muy certeros que nūca hereauan tiro que no matase con el: y como vieron los mexicanos el daño que recibian de parte de los Españoles començaron a culebrar para escaparse de los tiros: y andar de lado.  Dieron convate quatro dias arreo a las casas donde estauā los Españoles: y despues destos quatro dias: los capitanes mexicanos escogierō muchos soldabos viejos y hombres valientes: y subieronse sobre v̄ cu el que estaua mas cerca de las casas reales, y subieron alla, dos vigas rollizas para desde alli echarlas sobre las casas reales y hundirlas para poder entrar.  ----------  *TIERRAS.  For "tiros." 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 38r.] quioalixtia in micalizque; nimā ie ic tlacaoaca, ie ic necalioa: nimā ie ic muchioa in iauiotl, niman ie ic tlaiecolo onvetzi in mitl, in tetl, in impan Espanoles. Auh in iehoātin Españoles: quioallaça in tepuzmitl, yoan in tlequiquiztli, miec tlacatl minaloc yoan tlequiquizviloc: in tlatepuztlavitolhuiani, vel quixcatzitta in mitl, vel ipan quitlachialtia in mitl in aquinquiminaz: auh in tepuzmitl inic iauh iuhquin quiquinacatiuh, iuhquin çoçolocatiuh, cenca çoloni: auh atleçannen quiça in mitl, moch temina, mochi nalquiça in teitic: yoan in tlequiquiztli, vel tepan quiiacatia, veltepan contlachialtia. Auh in iquac vetzi, vellaltitech vi-loa, vellaltitech nepacholo, iuhquin pepechtli neteco, amo tenemachpan in tepā iauh, amo quiteimachitia in temictia, in quezqui ipan iauh vel izqui miqui: in iquac imovi [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] to face them and fight. Then there was a clamor as the battle was joined, as war was waged. Weapons were brandished; arrows and stones fell on the Spaniards. But the Spaniards shot back with iron bolts and guns; many people were hit by bolts and guns. The cross bowman aimed the bolt well, he pointed it right at the person he was going to shoot, and when it went off, it went whining, hissing and humming. And the arrows missed nothing, they all hit someone, went all the way through someone. The guns were pointed and aimed right at people. When they were fired, everyone went down, was pressed to the ground; the people lying there were like a mattress. It came upon people unawares, giving no warning when it killed them. However many were fired at died, when some dangerous part [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] When the Spaniards saw this, they immediately climbed up the cu in close order, carrying their muskets and crossbows. They began to go up very slowly, shooting the crossbows and muskets at those above. In each row a musketeer went ahead, then a soldier with sword and shield, and then a halberdier. In this order they went climbing up the cu. Those above hurled the timbers down the steps of the cu, but they did no damage to the Spaniards. Reaching the top of the cu, they started striking and killing those who were up there. Many of them threw themselves off headlong, and finally all who had climbed the cu died. The Spaniards returned to their fort and barricaded themselves very well. The Mexica buried those who died there, because they were all leading people, of great weight in the war. [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 38r.] Visto esto los españoles, luego subieron al cu con mucha orden, y lleuauan sus escopetas y vallestas començarō a subir muy despacio y tirauā con los* vallestas y escopetas a los de arriba en cada rencle yua delante vn escopetero: y luego vn soldado con espada y rodela, y luego vn alabardero por esta orden: yvan subiēdo al cu y los de arriba echauā los maderos por las gradas del cu abaxo, pero ningun daño hizieron a los españoles. Y llegando a lo alto del cu, comēçarō a herir y matar a los que estauan arriba,  y muchos dellos se desperauā** por el cu abaxo, finalmente todos murieron los que auian subido al cu tornaronse los españoles a su fuerte y barrearonse muy bien.  Los mexicanos enterraron a los que alli murieron porque toda era gente principal y de mucha cuēta en la guerra.  ----------  *LOS.  For "las."  **DESPERAUĀ.  For "despeñauā." 
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 38v.] can vetzi, in aço imixquac, in anoço incuexcochtlan, anoço iniollopan, anoço imelchiquipan,anoço imitipan, in anoço vel inxillan: auh intla çan īmetzpan, anoço imacolpan vetzi, amo nimā ic miqui, amo ic oviti, çan tel vmpati. Auh in oquittaq̄ mexica in iuh vetzi tlequiquiztli yoan in tepuzmitl, ça avic vivi, iuhquin ixtlapalhuiui, tlatlaxtlapaloa cenca vel motlachielia, vel mimati. Auh in ie iuh navilhuitl necalioa: in tiacaoan tlecoque, iehoan in tlatzonanti, in tlapepenti, in tlaviceque, inimixco ca iauiotl, muchintin tlecoque in icpac teucalli, vme vepantli quitlecavica, yoan miec in aoaquavitl, mimimiltic, itoca, teuquavitl in quitlecavique, in impan quioallaçazquia. Auh nimā ie ic tleco in Españoles quitlecavia in teucalli, tlatlamātitivi, cuecuentiti [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] was hit: the forehead, the nape of the neck, the heart, the chest, the stomach, or the whole abdomen. But if only their thighs or shoulders were hit, then they did not of it, nor were their lives put in danger, but they healed. And when the Mexica saw how the guns and iron bolts were shot, they just went back and forth, as though crossing this way and that; everyone went from side to side, being very alert and careful. When the fighting had gone on for four days, the warriors, those who had been chosen and picked out as best, those who possessed devices, whose countenances showed the spirit of war, all those climbed up on top of the temple. They took up two large beams and many round oak logs called “god wood” which they were going to hurl down on [the Spaniards]. Thereupon the Spaniards climbed up on the temple. They went in separate units, in rows. [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] (intentionally blank) [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 38v., dos dibujos; sin texto en español]
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 39r.] vi in Espanoles: tlaiacantivi in matlequiquiceque, cencā tlamach in tleco, amo mamana, quitlaztivi in matlequiquiztli, ic tlamotlativi, tlaōcaiotitivi, in tepuztlavitoloani, in tlatepuzmiviani, tlaiecaiotia in tepuzmaquaveque, in tlanauhcaiotitivi, tepuztopileque, tzinacātopileque. Auh in tiacaoan oc nen valmomamanaia in quioallaça quavitl, in tomaoac aoaquavitl in impā Españoles: çan quichimaltopeoa, çan niman aoctle onievat. Auh inopanvetzito in Españoles: nimā ie ic tevivitequi, yoan texixili, tetzotzopitza. Auh in tiacaoā niman ie ic valmotepeoa in itlamamatlaioc teucalli, iuhquin tlilazcatl valmotepeoa. Auh in Espanoles vel mochintin quinteucalhuique in ixquichtin tlecoca in tiiacaoan, vel mochinti [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] Those with harquebuses went ahead. Very gently did they climb, not getting agitated; as they went they fired the harquebuses at things. Second went the crossbowmen, those who shot crossbows. Third went those with swords. Fourth went those with iron lances, staffs shaped like a bat [halberds]. And when the warriors were trying to arrange themselves to hurl the logs, the thick oak logs, down on the Spaniards, they just pushed them aside with their shields, it did no good at all. And when the Spaniards got on top, they struck, stabbed, and jabbed at people. Thereupon the warriors threw themselves down to the landings of the temple; like black ants they threw themselves down. And the Spaniards cast down from the temple every one of the warriors who had climbed up. They cast down absolutely all of them; [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] (intentionally blank) [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 39r., dos dibujos; sin texto en español]
[Transcription of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 39v.] moteucalhuique, niman aocac maquiz. Auh in ontemictico, niman ie ic callacq̄ valmotzatzacutivetzque. Auh inin muchiuh ie tlaqualizpan: auh in ie iuhqui nimā ie ic teiximacho, teçaçaco: auh in ie muchintin oçacoque in moteucalhuiq̄: nimā ie ic tetlatilo in tetelpuchcali.* ---------- *TETELPUCHCALI. See fol. 27v. and fol. 34v. [Translation of the Nahuatl (right-hand column) by James Lockhart:] not a one escaped. And when they had finished the killing, they went into [the palace] and quickly shut themselves in. And this all happened at mealtime. After this, [the dead] were identified and removed; when all those who had been cast down from the temple had been removed, they were burned at the various youths’ houses. [Translation of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] (intentionally blank) [Translation of the Nahuatl into Spanish by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún; transcription of the Spanish (left-hand column) by James Lockhart:] [f. 39v., un dibujo; sin texto en español]