Next chapter of Codex Florentino:
And after they had arrived at the palace, had walked into it, they immediately grabbed him, put him under guard, didn’t fail to watch Moctezuma carefully, and with him also Itzquauhtzin. But the others just fled.
Apparently, Moctezuma has only been seized inside the palace! So anyway not on the dam? But caught by the Spaniards is he. Stuck and taken hostage. Perhaps the grip has been tightened in the palace. And Moctezumas fine friends? They have stuck their noble tails between their legs. They shall not risk a gods revenge.
The fact that Moctezuma is both caught in chapter 16 and 17 of Codex Florentino is perhaps a redundant, the narrator is upset, speaking, talking to get the anger out. The crime scene is not decisive, important is that the Tlatoani is captured. The narrative style is common throughout Codex Florentino, and it can compromise the source accuracy, that is, credibility as a historical source.
Back to the center of events:
And then the firearms were fired. It is like everything is being overthrown between each other, everyone runs back and forth, everything goes into disintegration, you run out to all sides, like fire sparks; it is as if everybody has been burdened and pressed, as if everyone had been doped by poisonous fungus, as if something terrible had appeared to them; fear has settled, it’s as if the heart has sunk in all people; and the same when it had become dark, everyone was filled with fear, everyone was terrified, everybody had been scared, everyone was sleeping in fear.
Codex Florentino describes a TOTAL collapse.
Cortés has been received as the Aztecs so longingly awaited god, and then these Spaniards imprison the Tlatoani, who have claimed to be stateholder for the god. The leading Aztecs have, after hearing and seeing firearms, got what may be called a shock. Everything goes into solution, as doped by fungus poison!
The most peculiar coincidence of world history.
Here in Codex Florentino it is clear that Moctezuma must have perceived Cortés as a god.
A few years after Sahagún had completed Codex Florentino, he re-wrote the story in the Boston Manuscript. There, it is as if Moctezuma had only real political considerations:
Thus, he commanded that when the Spaniards moved out of Ixtapalapa to enter Tenochtitlán, not a living soul should appear on the road which goes between Ixtapalapa and Tenochtitlán, nor on either side at any distance.
The entire distance was to be deserted as a clear sign that he, Moctezuma, did not want the Spaniards to enter the city. This was discussed among Moctezuma, the lord of Texcoco, the lord of the Tepanecs and all the friends of Moctezuma and those of his senators, leaders, and important nobles. It was also decided (according to reliable sources, both public and private) that if the Spaniards persisted in entering the city, in battle formation, they would not make any attempt to resist such an entrance, giving them to understand that they would be welcome; and with the greatest effort, they received them.
Thus, in that area that lies between the church of San Antonio (which they call Xoloco), which passes right by the houses of Alvarado and the hospital of the Concepción, Moctezuma came out to receive Don Hernán Cortés and his Spaniards peacefully, accompanied by the lords and the elders mentioned above, and offered them flowers (as was their custom) and also a present of gold and jewels. When this had been received by the Spaniards, Moctezuma spoke with great reverence and goodwill to the Marquis. After learning via his interpreters what had been said, Don Hernán Cortés answered Moctezuma most cordially, allying his fears that his person or his kingdom would suffer any harm and telling him that he would explain the reason for his coming. When Moctezuma and those who were with him heard this, they all went directly to take lodging in the royal houses.
When the Spaniards had entered the royal houses, they were straightaway lodged in places and parts that were appropriate to their rank, assumed or known grades, in such a fashion that the Captain and leading Spaniards were in the best rooms of the palace. Because the Aztecs are very considerate, they serve and honor each person according to his importance, both in lodging and food and in other types of service. Accordingly, in lodging all these who came, first of all the Spaniards and then after them the Tlaxcaltecs and all the remaining Indians, they lodged and served them according to their importance. The Captain always kept Moctezuma and his lords in the suite of rooms next to his own. This was not to affront them, but to keep them safe from any disrespect or injury from anyone who might do them wrong, such as the Tlaxcaltecs and their other enemies. The next night, the Spaniards fired artillery to celebrate their having arrived without harm at where they wanted to be.
Thus, in 1585, Sahagún did not ascribe Moctezuma religious notions about the Spaniards – contrary to what he had emphasized six years earlier.
Now he wrote that Moctezuma had put a trap for Cortés, that Moctezuma had received him with flowers and gifts, and after courtesy had been exchanged, the Spaniards had been accommodated by rank. Moctezuma had lived in the room next to Cortés, because he had to be protected from his own. Cortés wanted to take care of Moctezuma! Not a word that Moctezuma by the Spaniards had been taken hostage on the dam or that after they had arrived at the palace had been put him under guard, as Sahagún wrote in Codex Florentino.
The hostage-tacking disappeared! Had it not happened at all? Instead, in 1585, Sahagún referred to fireworks of celebration at the day after arrival! In Codex Florentino, Sahagún had written that the firearms had been fired the same evening, and it was not a party but terror: everything had been overthrown, everything had dissolved.
Centuries later, Prescott assumes that the artillery was fired the same night as the Spaniards had been accommodated in Tenochtitlán to celebrate their arrival. The thunders had made buildings shake, the smell of sulphureous vapor that rolled above the walls and reminded the inhabitants of the great volcano and horrified the superstitious Aztecs. It was doubtless the policy of Cortés.
With his 1585 Boston Manuscript, Sahagún would clean Cortés for such charges. Therefore, Sahagún quoted Cortés for the following day to have made a speach for the leading Spaniards, Aztecs, and Tlaxcaltecs:
Lords, brothers, and friends, you know that my brother Spaniards and I who are here have come from the east, where we were born. Our own country is called Spain. It is a very great kingdom of brave and mighty people. We have a great lord, who is our king and emperor; he is called is Carlos, fifth of that name. With his permission, we are spreading throughout all these western lands. Arriving in this New Spain, we came to the kingdom of our brothers and friends, the Tlaxcaltecs, who received us in their capital city, called Tlaxcala, with great kindness and made a pact of friendship and brotherhood with us. After showing us much kindness, they complained to us that you Aztecs cause them great grievances and great damages and wage war upon them continuously so that they do not enjoy peace or safety of their persons, lands, and properties, but instead you always impose great burdens on them. Having heard this, my brother Spaniards and I, together with them, have come here to your city to learn from them and from you who is to blame for these damages and disturbances in order to put an end to them so that you may live in peace and conduct yourselves as brothers and neighbors. Until we discover this and make this peace, we will remain here with you as lords and friends, and this will be achieved little by little, without any disturbance or ill treatment on either side.
Sahagún presents Cortés as him who has come from east, Mexico as New Spain, the Tlaxcaltecs as brothers and friends of the Spaniards.
Sahagún presents Cortés as THE GREAT REDEEMER AND PEACEMAKER between warring Indian tribes.
To understand the events, we can choose the oldest written source, Cortés Letter of October 20, 1520, to King Carlos. According to that, Moctezuma handed power over to Cortés because Cortés was entitled to it.
We can also choose Sahagúns Codex Florentino, written almost 60 years after the events: Cortés took Moctezuma hostage and conquered the country.
Or Sahagúns Boston Manuscript, written about 60 years after the events: Cortés came as a Prince of Peace and had as an American Moses to free the Indians.
(pp. 368-372 in volume 1, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
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