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luck on their side

Bernal Diaz, a 27-year-old member of the small force accompanying Cortes into Tenochtitlan in 1519, describes in his old age the extraordinary scene:

'Who could now count the multitude of men, women and boys in the streets, on the roof-tops and in canoes on the waterways, who had come out to see us? It was a wonderful sight and, as I write, it all comes before my eyes as if it had happened only yesterday. ... They led us to our quarters. ... On our arrival we entered a large court, where the great Montezuma was awaiting our captain. Taking him by the hand, the prince led him to his apartment in the hall where he was to lodge, which was very richly furnished in their manner. Montezuma had ready for him a very rich necklace, made of golden crabs, a marvellous piece of work, which he hung round Cortes' neck. His captains were greatly astonished at this sign of honour.

So, with luck on our side, we boldly entered the city of Tenochtitlan on 8 November in the year of our Lord 1519.'

Bernal Diaz The Conquest of New Spain, translated J.M. Cohen, Penguin 1963, pages 218-9


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