The Death of Moctezuma

The Bodies of Moctezuma and ItzquauhtzinFrom Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex, Book 12, Chapter Twenty-three (Mexica)

Here it is told how Moctezuma and a great noble of Tlatilulco died, and how [the Spaniards] had tossed their bodies out of the door of the house where they were.

Four days after people had been cast down from the temple [during fighting, when the Spaniards captured it], the Spaniards tossed the bodies of Moctezuma and Itzquauhtzin, who had died, on a place near the water's edge called Teoayoc ["Place of the Divine Turtle"], for an image carved in stone . . . that had the likeness of a turtle.

And when they were seen and recognized as being Moctezuma and Itzquauhtzin, they hurried to take Moctezuma up in their arms and brought him to a place called Copulco. There they placed him on a wooden pyre and set fire to it. The fire began to crackle and roar, with many tongues of flame, tongues of flame like tassels, rising up. And Moctezuma's body lay sizzling, and it smelled like scorched meat, and it let off a foul stench as it burned.

And while the body of Moctezuma burned, some people, angry and without good will, chided him, saying "this unhappy man made the whole world fear him; in the whole world he was dreaded; in the whole world he was respected and feared. If someone offended him in the smallest of ways, he immediately annihilated him. He punished many for imaginary offenses, which were not real, just fabricated stories." And many others cursed him, screamed, lamented, and shook their heads.

[The next part of the chapter talks about how, unlike Moctezuma, Itzquauhtzin was buried with "great honors."]

And for four days, fighting continued. And for seven days the Spaniards were under siege in their houses. But after seven days, the Spaniards came out, to observe, to look around . . . . They went as far as Maçatzintamalco. They went to gather stalks of green maize [corn] that had begun to form ears. They went to gather the maize as if they were at war. They gathered the maize with great haste; they hardly arrived had arrived when they quickly returned to enter [the palace]. And when they left, the sun was high; [when they returned, the sun] was setting.