Narváez and the Feast of Toxcatl<br />
The Narváez distraction<br />Cortés learns of an army led by Panfílo de Narváez with the objective to remove Cortés from c...
The Feast of Toxcatl<br />While Cortés is out dealing with Narváez, many priests, nobles, and warriors gathered in honor o...
Cortés’ account<br />Cortés' story of the conflict at the Feast of Toxcatl is very brief and vague. Because he has just fi...
Díaz’ account<br />Díaz was with Cortés in the showdown against Narváez, but has a different account of the slaughter at t...
Díaz’ account cont.<br />We are allowed to believe more in Díaz' account than Cortés' because Díaz does not just pass this...
Mexican account<br />Lastly, we have the Mexican account in the form of the Florentine Codex, compiled by Bernardino de Sa...
Mexican account cont.<br />The Florentine Codex tells a different story, one where the innocent are slaughtered for no rea...
Endnotes<br />1 Díaz, 281-283<br />2 Cortés, 128<br />3 Cortés, 128<br />4 Díaz, 285-286<br />5 Sahagún, 296-297<br />
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Narváez and the Feast of Toxcatl

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Narváez and the Feast of Toxcatl

  1. 1. Narváez and the Feast of Toxcatl<br />
  2. 2. The Narváez distraction<br />Cortés learns of an army led by Panfílo de Narváez with the objective to remove Cortés from command in Mexico. At the beginning of May of that year, Cortés takes a portion of his force to meet Narváez and hopefully defeat his army. He leaves a small garrison of men under Pedro de Alvarado in Tenochtitlan to hold the city and maintain power over the indigenous people. Cortés attacks Narváez' camp, taking Narváezand some of his loyal troops prisoner, while adding the bulk of Narváez' soldiers to his cause1.<br />
  3. 3. The Feast of Toxcatl<br />While Cortés is out dealing with Narváez, many priests, nobles, and warriors gathered in honor of Toxcatl and prepared for a feast and the ceremonies that would follow. Sometime during the ceremony, a fight breaks out, and many of the Mexicans are killed. Cortés then returns to Tenochtitlan and faces the repercussions of the conflict. There are three different accounts of what happened that night, each offering their own version of the truth.<br />
  4. 4. Cortés’ account<br />Cortés' story of the conflict at the Feast of Toxcatl is very brief and vague. Because he has just finished dealing with the Narváez problem, he sends a messenger to Tenochtitlan to tell Alvarado that he is returning as the victor. The messenger arrives twelve days later and tells Cortés that the Mexicans have attacked the small number of troops that Cortés left behind2. We, however, must be very wary of Cortés' account due to the audience of his accounts. Writing for the royalty of Spain, Cortés kept the things that would make him look bad to a minimum. He needed a clean record and justification for all of his actions in order to be in a better position to receive a good portion of the spoils once the conquest was over. He is stated as writing "They were in dire need and I must, for the love of God, come to their aid“3. Obviously exaggerating the importance of himself, Cortés is not one whose words we can take at face value.<br />
  5. 5. Díaz’ account<br />Díaz was with Cortés in the showdown against Narváez, but has a different account of the slaughter at the Feast of Toxcatl. Just after arriving back at Tenochtitlan, Díaz writes of a conversation between Cortés and Alvarado. Alvarado explains that the Mexicans had asked him for permission to hold a festival in honor of Toxcatl, and that Alvarado gave them the authorization to do so. Alvarado says he then got "positive information" that the Mexicans would attack and sacrifice the Spaniards after the festival was completed. In order to gain surprise and prevent the Mexicans from attacking them, Alvarado struck first. Cortés then told Alvarado that he had made a mistake, the result of which is the eventual expulsion of the Spaniards from Tenochtitlan4<br />
  6. 6. Díaz’ account cont.<br />We are allowed to believe more in Díaz' account than Cortés' because Díaz does not just pass this off. He presents his story from the perspective of overhearing the conversation between Cortés and Alvarado. Adding more credit to his side, Díaz writes his account years after the conquest when he was an old man, and stood to gain little from writing the book. Audience is much less important to him than it was for Cortés. Whether the Mexicans attacked the Spanish first or the Spanish attacked the Mexicans first does not affect him at all, so there would be less importance for him to use anything but what he thinks is the truth. What little bias we can assume would be against the Spanish government itself for failing to adequately reward the soldiers in the Conquest of Mexico. It is a small but not unimportant trifle that may have had some effect writing his account.<br />
  7. 7. Mexican account<br />Lastly, we have the Mexican account in the form of the Florentine Codex, compiled by Bernardino de Sahagún. In the Codex, it seems that the Mexicans were singing and dancing when all of a sudden the Spanish walked in dressed for war, sealed all the exits, and started cutting people down like trees5. In the Codex there is no evidence of a plot by the Mexicans to fight the Spanish, contradicting both Díaz and Cortés. The similarity between Díaz and the Florentine Codex is the report that the Spanish initiated the skirmish, which is one of the key events in this period. <br />
  8. 8. Mexican account cont.<br />The Florentine Codex tells a different story, one where the innocent are slaughtered for no reason. This may or may not be true. What we can think about, however, is the reason for the people who contributed to the Florentine Codex to think that way. Since all of those who lent their memories to the Codex were Mexican, one can guess that there would be at least a little anti-Spanish bias in their stories. Also important is the fact that the Mexicans did not "win" in the Conquest. This leads us to believe that they were harboring ill thoughts towards their conquerors, painting the Spanish as ruthless killers.<br />
  9. 9. Endnotes<br />1 Díaz, 281-283<br />2 Cortés, 128<br />3 Cortés, 128<br />4 Díaz, 285-286<br />5 Sahagún, 296-297<br />

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