Prince of Mexico Chapter Eight
Cortes, his men and allies now set out for the great ancient city of Cholula.
Cholula, the second largest city in Mexico, rivaled the greatest cities
Of Europe in its richness and sophistication. Cholula would become
Synonymous with massacre. It was the relgious center of the Mexican Empire,
its Mecca and Jerusalem. Inside the city, a massive pyramid, the largest
On earth, made of stone and earth, rose one hundred seventy-feet high
With a forty-four-acre base. A shrine for Quetzalcoatl sat at the summit
Of the pyramid. Quetzalcoatl, the bearded white god of virgin birth,
Wandered among man and brought humanity, morality, learning and
Spirituality to man. Thousands of Indians made the pilgrimage to
Cholula to visit the shrine. The city lay in the Valley of Pueblo, in the
Shadows of the great twin volcanoes Popcatepetl and Iztacchihuatl,
The smoking mountain and the sleeping woman, some twenty-five
Miles to the southwest of Tlascala. The great Ortizaba and Sierra de
Malinche loomed to the east.
Cholula was great commercial hub too. The Cholulans - mantled in rich
And colorful agave and cotton raiment, flowers, finely crafted jewelry -
Lined both sides of the road as the great white skinned bearded Cortes
Majestically rode his horse at the head of his army of adventurers and
Indian allies. They passed by the great maize and cactus fields, cut
By mountain streams, that checkered the fertile plain. Cheering Cholulans
Played musical instruments in festive celebration. Compared the more
Rustic Tlascalans, the Cholulans were rich and sophisticated. They were
A city of merchants and artisans their city famed for their metal works
And pottery. The Tlascalans at the request of the Cholulans camped outside
Of their city for they were bitter enemies.
Cortes, his men and Cempoallan allies entered the well-planned city with
Its clean broad boulevards laid out in grids and well made houses and
Great towers. Six thousand human victims were sacrificed annually
To the gods of Cholula. The Cholulans fed and housed Cortes and his
Men until Montezuma ordered the Cholulans to kill them. The Cempoalans
Warned Cortes of covered traps with sharpened stakes, barricades and
Collections of large stones on rooftops. The Cholulans sacrificed childen in
Preparation for battle. The wife of a Cholulan cacique told Marina the Cholulans
Were going to betray Cortes. Cortes seized the woman who said Montezuma
Bribed the caciques to help the Aztecs ambush Cortes and his men as they left
The city. Twenty thousand Aztec warriors waited for Cortes just outside the city.
They planned to would capture and sacrifice Cortes and his men.
Cortes gently reprimanded the Cholulan caciques for their inhospitality, but did
Disclose that he knew their plans. Cortes said he would leave in the morning.
He asked the caciques to provide three thousand porters to carry the Spanish cannon
And supplies. Cortes told the caciques that he knew of their plot. The startled caciques
Admitted to everything. Cortes ordered his men to kill the trapped Cholulans. The
Spanish shot down the unarmed Indians with their arquebuses and crossbows. The
Spaniards then stabbed the Indians as the survivors tried to claw up the steep stucco
Walls in a vain attempt to cheat death. Cholulans gathered outside the main gate
To save their screaming kinsmen and neighbors. Cannon shot tore heads from
Bodies and limbs from torsos. The Tlascalans rushed into the city and attacked the
Cholulans amassed at the gate. The Tlascalans scattered the Cholulans, chasing them
down the streets to their homes, setting fire to the buildings and looting
Their homes. All the tears of Queztalcoatl could not extinguish the flames
That turned the rich wood houses and public buildings into piles of
Cinder and ash.
The Spaniards assaulted the main temple. The conquistadors set the high
Towers aflame as the defenders jumped from the spires to their deaths
Or perished in the fire. Thousands died. The surviving caciques ordered
Their remaining warriors to stop fighting. After the slaughter,
The Tlascalans upon the orders of Cortes, reluctantly released their
Captured prisoners. Cortes also freed the Cholulan prisoners, being
Fattened and awaiting gruesome deaths.
Meanwhile Montezuma, trembled in fear. Montezuma sent fresh envoys
Bearing gifts of gold. The Aztec envoys blamed the Cholulans for
Betraying Cortes. At this point, the Cempoaleans declined to go farther
And returned home.