Moctezuma Sends Emissaries to the Spaniards

Mexica WarriorsFrom Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex, Book 12, Chapter Eight

Then Moctezuma sent out emissaries. Those he had sent were various evil men--soothsayers and magicians. He also sent warriors, brave men, chieftains.

They had to be responsible for all [that the Spaniards] needed for food: turkeys, eggs, white tortillas, and whatever else they might request, whatever their hearts desired. They were to watch them well.

He sent captives in case (the Spaniards) wanted to [carry out a] sacrifice; who knows if they wanted to drink their blood? And the emissaries did this.

But when they [the Spaniards] saw it [the victims for sacrifice], they were disgusted, they spit, they shut their eyes, they shook their head. And the emissaries sprinkled blood in the food, which made their [the Spaniards'] stomachs turn, and sickened and disgusted them because of the rotten stench of the blood.

Moctezuma did this because he believed they were gods; he worshipped them as gods. For they were called and named "gods come from the heavens." And the black ones were called "soiled gods."

[They then later ate together--presumably without the bloodied food.]

They said that Moctezuma sent the magicians and soothsayers to see what [the Spaniards] were like and perhaps enchant them, cast a spell on them. Perhaps they could blow them away or hurl something at them. Perhaps they could do something to make them sick, or die, or return from where they came. But when they performed their charge and commission upon the Spaniards, they could do nothing; they had no power [at all].

Then they hastened back to the city, to tell Moctezuma what [the strangers were like], how strong they were, [saying]: "We are no match for them: we are as nothing!"

Moctezuma gave rigorous orders; he scolded and commanded the officials and all the chiefs and captains, under the threat of death, to see and take care of everything [the strangers] needed and to provide it.

And when [the Spaniards] left their ships, came on to dry land, and began to march toward here, they were well cared for, they were honored. They were always in the hands of someone as they marched ahead; a lot was done please them.