Aztec Perspective on First Contact with Europeans // 16th cent. Florentine Codex // Primary Source

published on July 17, 2020

ten years before the Spaniards first came here a bad omen appeared in the sky it was like a flaming ear of corn or a fiery signal or the blaze of daybreak it seemed to bleed fire drop by drop like a wound in the sky it was wide

At the base and narrow of the peak and it shone in the very heart of the heavens when it first appeared there was great outcry and confusion the people clapped their hands against their mouths they

Were amazed and frightened and asked themselves what it could mean the second bad omen the temple of Huitzilopochtli burst into flames it is thought that no one set it afire that had burned down of its own accord

The third bad omen a temple was damaged by a lightning bolt this was the temple absurd acutally which was built of straw it was raining that day but it was only a light rain who were a drizzle and no thunder was heard the fourth bad omen

Fire streamed through the sky while the Sun was still shining the fifth bad omen the wind lashed the water until it boiled it was if it were boiling with rage as if it was shattering itself in its frenzy it began from far off rose

High in the air and dashed against the walls of the houses the flooded houses collapsed into the water this was in the lake that is next to us the sixth bad omen the people heard a weeping woman night after night she passed by in the

Middle of the night wailing and crying out in a loud voice my children we must flee away from this city at other times she cried my children where shall I take you the seventh wonder was this the men whose work is in the lake of Mexico

Trapped a dark feathered bird resembling a crane and took it to Mata kazuma so that you might see it he was in the palace of the black Hall the Sun was already in the West the bird was so unique and marvelous

That no one could exaggerate its strangeness or describe it well around diadem was set in its head in the form of a clear and transparent mirror in which could be seen the heavens when mater Kazuma saw this he was filled with

Dread and Wonder for he believed it was a bad omen to see the stars of heavens in the diadem of that bird when mater Kazuma looked into the mirror for a second time he saw a host of people all armed like warriors coming forward in

Well-ordered ranks they skirmished and fought with each other and they were accompanied by strange deer and other creatures the eighth wonder and sign that appeared in Mexico the natives saw two men merged into one body and others

Who had two heads but only one body they were brought to the palace of the black Hall to be shown to the great Montezuma but they vanished as soon as he had seen them to the natives these marvels all go to their death and ruin signifying that

The end of the world was coming and that other people's would be created to inhabit the earth a few days later a common man came to the city from mikta Hudler no one had sent him none of the officials he came

Of his own accord he went directly to the palace of mater Kazuma and said to him our Lord and King forgive my boldness when I went to the shores of the Great Sea there was a mountain range or small mountain floating in the midst

Of the water and moving here and there without touching the shore my lord we have never seen the like of this although we guard the coast and are always on watch mater Kazuma thanked him and said you

May rest now the man who brought this news had no ears for they had been cut off and no toes who they had also been cut off then he called for a priest and appointed him to his grand emissary he said to him go to quirt Laxton and tell

The official in charge of the village that it is true strange things have appeared on the Great Sea tell him to investigate these things himself so as to learn what they may signify tell them to do this as

Quickly as he can and take the Ambassador with you when they arrived in qua text on the invoice spoke with the officials in charge there a man named Binet oh he listened to them with great attention and then said my Lords rest

Here with me and send your attendants out to the shore the attendants went out and came back in great haste to report that it was true they had seen two towers or small mountains floating on the waves of the sea

The grand emissary said to pinnacle I wish to see these things in person in order to learn what they are I must testify to our Lord as an eyewitness therefore he went out to the shore and they saw what was floating

There beyond the edge of the water they also saw that seven or eight of the strangers had left it in a small boat and were fishing with hooks and lines they climbed up into a broad limb tree

From there they saw how the strangers were catching fish and how when they were done they returned to the ship in their small boat they climbed down from the tree and went back to the village where they took hasty leave of binnacle

They returned as swiftly as possible to the great city of Tanaka clan to report tamati Kazuma what they had observed when they reached the city they went directly to the king's palace and spoke to him with all due reverence and

Humility how Lord and King it is true that strange people have come to the shores of the Great Sea they were fishing from a small boat some with rods and others with a net they fished until late and then they went back to their

Two great towers and climbed up into them there are about 15 of these people some with blue jackets others with red others with black or green still others with jackets of a soiled color very ugly there are also a few without jackets on

Their heads they wore red handkerchiefs or bonnets of a fine scarlet colour and some wore large round hats which must have been sun shades they have very light skin much lighter than ours they all have long beards and their hair

Comes only to their ears what a Kazuma was downcast when he heard this report and did not speak a word mata Kazuma then gave orders to his officials he said to them give out this order a watch is to be kept along all

The shores the officials left at once and gave orders for the watch to be kept mata Kazuma now called his chiefs together he told them the news that had been brought to him and showed them the objects he had ordered made

He said the whole treasure must be guarded well if anything is lost your houses will be destroyed and your children killed even those who are still in the womb the year thirteen rabbit now approached its end and when it was about

To end they appeared the report of their coming was brought to Mata Kazuma who immediately sent out messages It was as if he thought the new arrival was our Prince Quetzalcoatl this is what he felt

In his heart he has appeared he has come back he will come here to the place of his throne and canopy for that is what he promised when he departed Mata Kazuma sent five messengers to greet the strangers and to bring them gifts he

Said to them come forward my Jaguar knights come forward it is said that our Lord has returned to this land go to meet him go to hear him listen well to what he tells you he is what you are to bring to our Lord this is the treasure

Of Quetzalcoatl due reverence to our Lord the God say to him your deputy mater Kazuma has sent us to you here are the presents with which he welcomes you home to Mexico when they arrived at the shore of the sea they were taken in

Canoes to Sakhalin KO they placed the baskets in the same canoes in which they rode in order to keep them under their personal vigilance from sickle anko they followed the coast until they sighted the ships of the strangers

When they came up to the ships the strangers asked them who are you where are you from we have come from the city of Mexico the stranger said you may have come from there who you may not have perhaps you are only inventing it

Perhaps you are mocking us but their hearts were convinced they were satisfied in their hearts they lowered a hook from the bow of the ship another ladder and the messengers came aboard one by one they did reverence to Cortes

By touching the ground before him with their lips they said to him if the god will deign to hear us your deputy mater Kazuma has sent us to render you homage he has the city of Mexico in his care he says the God is

Weary then they arrayed the captain in the finery they had brought him as presents with great care they fastened the turquoise mask in place the mask of the God with its cross band of quetzel

Feathers a golden earring hung down on either side of this mask they dressed him in the decorated vest and the collar woven in the potato style a collar with a disc of gold in the center next they fastened the mirror to his hips dressed

Him in the cloak known as the ringing Bell andin don't his feet with the Greaves used by the hasta cuss in his hand they placed the shield with its fringe and pendant of quetzel feathers its

Ornaments of gold and mother-of-pearl finally they set before him the pair of black sandals the captain asked them and is this all is this your gift of welcome is this how you greet people they replied this is all Lord this is what we

Have brought you then the captain gave orders and the messengers were chained by the feet and neck when this had been done the great cannon was fired off the messengers lost their senses and fainted away they fell

Down side by side and lay where they had fallen but the Spaniards quickly revived them they lifted them up gave them wine to drink and then offered them some food the captain said to them I have heard that the Mexicans are very great

Warriors very brave and terrible if a Mexican is fighting alone he knows how to retreat turn back rush forwards and conquer even if his opponents are ten or even twenty but my heart is not convinced I want to

See it for myself I want to find out if you are truly that strong and brave then he gave them swords spears and leather shields he said it will take place very early at daybreak we are going to fight each other in pairs and in this way we

Will learn the truth we will see who falls to the ground they said to the captain our lord we were not sent here for this by your deputy Mata kazuma we have come on an exclusive mission to offer you rest and repose and to bring

You presents if we were to do this it might anger Mata kazuma and he would surely put us to death the captain replied no it must take place I want to see for myself because even in Castile they say you are famous as brave

Warriors therefore eat an early meal I will eat too good cheer with these words he sent them away from the ship they were scarcely into their canoes when they began to paddle furiously some of them even paddled with their hands so

Fierce was the anxiety burning in their souls they said to each other my captain's paddle with all your might – faster faster nothing must happen to us here nothing must happen while the messengers were away mati

Kazuma could neither sleep nor eat and no one could speak with him he thought that everything he did was in vain and he sighed almost every moment he was lost in despair in the deepest gloom and sorrow

Nothing could comfort him nothing could calm him nothing could give him any pleasure he said what will happen to us who will outlive it ah in other times I was contented but now I have death in my heart but with our Lord come here then

He gave orders to the watchman to captives are to be painted with chalk the messengers went to the house of the serpent and mati Kazuma arrived the two captives were then sacrificed before his eyes and the messengers were sprinkled

With their blood this was done because the messengers had completed a difficult mission they had seen the gods their eyes had looked on their faces they'd even conversed with the gods when the sacrifice was finished the messengers

Reported to the king they told him how they had made the journey and what they had seen and what food the strangers ate mater Kazuma was astonished and terrified by their report and a description of the strangest food

Astonished him above all else it was also terrified to learn how the cannon roared how its noise resounded how it caused one to faint and want to grow deaf the messengers told him a thing like a ball of stone comes out of its

Entrails it comes out shooting sparks and raining fire the smoke that comes out with it as a pestilent odor like that of rotten mud this odor penetrates even to the brain and causes the greatest discomfort if the cannon is

Aimed against a mountain the mountain splits and cracks open if it is aimed against a tree it shatters the tree into splinters this is a most unnatural sight as if the tree has exploded from within the messengers also said their trappings

And arms are all made of iron they dress in iron and where iron casks on their heads their swords are iron their boughs are iron their shields are iron their spears are iron their deer carry them on their backs wherever they wish to go

These deer our Lord are as tall as the roof of a house the strangest bodies are completely covered so that only their faces can be seen their skin is white as if it were made of lime they have yellow hair though some of them have black

Their beards are long in yellow and their moustaches are also yellow the hair is curly with very fine strands as for their food it is like human food it is large and white and not heavy is something like straw but with the taste

Of corn stalk of the pith of corn stalk it is a little sweet as if it were flavoured with honey it is sweet tasting food their dogs are enormous with flat ears and long dangling tongues the color of their eyes is a burning yellow their

Eyes flash firing and shoot off sparks their bellies are hollow their flanks long and narrow they are tireless and very powerful they bound here in their panting with their tongues hanging out and they are spotted

Like an ocelot when Mata kazuma heard this report he was filled with terror It was as if his heart had fainted as if it had shriveled it was at this time that Mata kazuma sent out a deputation he sent out his most gifted men his

Prophets and wizards as many as he could gather he also sent out his noblest and bravest warriors they had to take their provisions with them on the journeys life hens and hens eggs and tortillas they also took whatever the strangers

Request whatever might please them mata Kazuma also sent captives to be sacrificed because the strangers might wish to drink their blood the invoice sacrificed these captives in the presence of the strangers but when the

White men saw this done they were filled with disgust and loathing they spat on the ground or wiped away their tears or close their eyes and shook their heads and abhorrent they refused to eat the food that was sprinkled with blood

Because it weakened of it did it sickened them as if the blood had rotted mater Kazuma ordered the sacrifice because he took the Spaniards to be gods he believed in them and he worshiped them as deities then the strangers ate

The tortillas the eggs and the hens and fruit of every variety guavas avocados prickly pears and the many other kinds that grow here there was food for the deer also read shoots and green grasses Mota Kazuma had sent the magicians to

Learn what sort of people the strangers might be but they were also to see if they could work some charm against them or do them some mischief they might be able to direct a harmful wind against them or cause them to break out in sores

Or injure them in some way or they might be able to repeat some enchanted word over and over that would cause them to fall sick or die or return to their own land the magicians carried out their mission against the Spaniards but they

Failed completely they could not harm them in any way whatsoever therefore they hastened back to the city to tell mater Kazuma what the strangers were like and how invulnerable they were they said to him O Lord we are no match

For them we are mere nothing's Matta Kazuma at once gave out orders he commanded the officials and all the chiefs and captains under the threat of death to take the utmost pains to learn what the strangers needed and to provide

It when the spaniards left their ships and began to march here and were at last on the way they was served and attended as they came and great honors were done them they marched forward under protection

And everything possible was done to please them when Mata kazuma heard that they were inquiring about his person and when he learned that the gods wish to see him face to face his heart shrank within him and he was filled with

Anguish he wanted to run away and hide he thought of evading the gods and escaping to hide in a cave he spoke of this to certain trusted counselors who were not faint-hearted whose hearts were still firm and

Resolute they said there is the place of the dead the house of the Sun at the land of tarrlok or the temple of simply you should go to one or another to whichever you prefer mata Kazuma knew what he desired to go

To the temple of Sint Lee and his desire was made known it was revealed to the people but he could not do it he could not run away could not go into hiding he had lost his strength and his spirit and could do nothing therefore he did

Nothing but wait he did nothing but resign himself and wait for them to come he mastered his heart at last and waited for whatever was to happen

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