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The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
 
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 Nahua Men of Noble Lineage Write to the King, May 11, 1556

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PostSubject: Nahua Men of Noble Lineage Write to the King, May 11, 1556   Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:35 pm

Only thirty-five years after the Spaniards had captured the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan a significant number of Nahuas, mainly Aztecs, had not only learned to read and write in their language and in Spanish, but had also become acquainted with the nature of the newly imposed procedures for the presentation of claims and the filing of complaints. In particular, many of the surviving members of the native nobility and their descendants, raised in the schools of the friars, had come to develop these and other pragmatic skills. And while some of them, to preserve their privileges, collaborated with the new lords, others kept to their people and acted on their behalf.

A son of Motecuhzoma named Pedro Tlacahuepantzin and the native governors and judges of the important towns of Tlacopan (Tacuba), Iztapalapa, and Coyoacan assembled early in May 1556 to write to the king denouncing the many offenses by which they and their peoples were victimized. Dramatically describing in Nahuatl their situation, they provide a triple image of the others: of the Spaniards with whom they had to coexist, of the distant king who although unknown was thought to be good and just to his vassals, and of a Dominican friar, Bartolomew de las Casas, whom they recognized as a man "of good will and very Christian." Theirs is a powerful letter of petition.

To His Majesty Don Philip, king of Spain, from the lords and principals (leaders) of the peoples of New Spain, May 11, 1556.

Our very High and very Powerful King and Lord:

The lords and principals of the peoples of this New Spain, of Mexico and its surroundings, subjects and servants of Your Majesty, we kiss the royal feet of Your Majesty and with dutiful humility and respect we implore You and state that, given that we are in such great need of the protection and aid of your Majesty, both for ourselves and for those whom we have in our charge, due to the many wrongs and damages that we receive from the Spaniards, because they are amongst us, and we amongst them, and because for the remedy of our necessities we are very much in need of a person who would be our defender, who would reside continuously in that royal court, to whom we could go with [our necessities], and give Your Majesty notice and true accounts of all of them, because we cannot, given the long distance there is from here to there, nor can we manifest them in writing, because they are so many and so great that it would be a great bother to Your Majesty, thus we ask and humbly beseech Your Majesty to appoint to us the bishop of Chiapas Don Fray Bartolome de las Casas to take this charge of being our defender and that Your Majesty order him to accept; and if by chance said bishop were unable because of his death or sickness, we beseech Your Majesty in such a case to appoint to us one of the principal persons of your royal court of good will and very Christian to whom we can appeal with the things that would come up, because so many of them are of such a type that they require solely your royal presence, and from it only, after God, do we expect the remedy, because otherwise we will suffer daily so many needs and we are so aggrieved that soon we will be ended, since every day we are more consumed and finished, because they expel us from our lands and deprive us of our goods, beyond the many other labors and personal tributes that daily are increased for us.

May our Lord cause to prosper and keep the royal person and state of Our Majesty as we your subjects and servants desire. From this town of Tlacopan, where we are all assembled for this, the eleventh day of the month of May, the year one thousand five hundred fifty-six.
The loyal subjects and servants of your Royal Majesty, Don Esteban de Guzman, judge of Mexico, Don Hernando Pimentel, Don Antonio Cortes, Don Juan of Coyoacan, Don Pedro deMoctezuma, Don Alonso of lztapalapa.
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