"The Aztec Civilization of
Motecusuma had also two arsenals filled with arms of every description, of which many were ornamented with gold and precious stones. These arms consisted in shields of different sizes, sabres, and a species of broadsword, which is wielded with both hands, the edge furnished with flint stones, so extremely sharp that they cut much better than our Spanish swords: further, lances of greater length than ours, with spikes at their end, full on fathom in length, likewise furnished with several sharp flint stones. The pikes are so very sharp and hard that they will pierce the strongest shield, and cut like a razor; so that the Mexicans even shave themselves with these stones. Then there were excellent bows and arrows, pikes with single and double points, and the proper thongs to throw them with; slings with round stones, purposely made for them; also a species of large shield, so ingeniously constructed that it could be rolled up when not wanted; they are only unrolled on the field of battle, and completely cover the whole body from the head to the feet. Further, we saw here a great variety of cuirasses made of quilted cotton, which were outwardly adorned with soft feathers of different colours, and looked like uniforms...
The moment we arrived in this immense market, we were perfectly astonished
at the vast numbers of people, the profusion of merchandise, which was there
exposed for sale, and at the good police and order that reigned throughout....
Every species of merchandise had a separate spot for its sale. We first of all
visited those divisions of the market appropriated for the sale of gold and
silver wares. Of jewels, of cloths interwoven with feathers,
and of other manufactured goods; beside slaves of both sexes. This slave
market was upon as great a scale as the Portuguese market for negro slaves at
In this market-place there were also courts of justice, to which three judges an several constables were appointed, who inspected the goods exposed for sale. I had almost forgotten to mention the salt, and those who made the flint knives; also the fish, and a species of bread made of a kind of mud or slime collected fro the surface of this lake and eaten in that form, and has a similar taste to our cheese. Further, instruments of brass, copper, and tin; cups, and painted pitches of wood; indeed I wish I had completed the enumeration of all this profusion of merchandise. The variety was so great that it would occupy more space than I can well spare to note them down in. Besides which the market was so crowded with people, and the thronging so excessive in the porticoes, that it was quite impossible to see all in one day , ...
... Before we mounted the steps of the great temple, Motecusuma,
who was sacrificing on the top to his idols, sent six papas and two of his
principal officers to conduct Cortes up the steps. There were 114 steps to the
summit ... Indeed, this infernal temple, from its great height, commanded a
view of the whole surrounding neighbourhood. From
this place we could likewise see the three causeways which led into
...[re: religion and sacrifices] Our commander here said smilingly, to Motecusuma: I cannot imagine that such a powerful and wise monarch as you are should not have yourself discovered by this time that these idols are not divinities but evil spirits, called devils. In order that you may be convinced of this and that your papas may satisfy themselves of this truth, allow me to erect a cross on the summit of this temple; and, in the chapel where stand your Huitzilopochtili and Tetzcatlipuca [gods], give us a small space that I may place there the image of the holy Virgin; then you will see that terror will seize these idols by which you have been so long deluded"
Motecusuma knew what the image of the Virgin Mary was, yet he was very much displeased with Cortes’ offer, and replied in the presence of two papas, whose anger was not less conspicuous, "Malinche [Cortes], could I have conjectured that you would have used such reviling language as you have just done, I would certainly not have shown you my gods. In our eyes these are good divinities: they preserve our lives, give us nourishment, water and good harvests, healthy and growing weather, and victory whenever we pray to them for it. Therefore we offer up our prayers to them and make them sacrifices, I earnestly beg of you not to say another word to insult the profound veneration in which we hold these gods".