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BOOK I

TO THE SOVEREIGN PONTIFF ADRIAN VI FROM THE SAME PETER MARTYR D'anghera OF MILAN

M'

OST HOLY FATHER and most gracious Sovereign: I have dedicated the Fourth Decade of my Indian history to the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo X., your most gracious brother and cousin.1 We have enumerated in that work with great fidelity and absolute integrity the peoples, the islands, the unknown lands discovered in our time in the ocean up to the year 1522, from the Incarnation. Since that epoch other letters have arrived from Fernando Cortes, commander of the Imperial fleet, describing the countries he has brought under Spanish rule.2 These letters contain new and extraordinary particulars, astonishing from every point of view. In this Fifth Decade of my commentaries I have reported these particulars with as much precision and fidelity as I could, carefully observing the chronological order of events. I have dedicated this work to the Sovereign Pontiff Adrian, your predecessor, who died before receiving it. You have inherited his dignity, and you shall likewise inherit my labours, and receive henceforth all I shall write worthy to be preserved in history. It is therefore under your most gracious patronage that I place my work, and I desire that it should appear under such favourable auspices in order that all human beings may know how widely the Christian name has extended since you govern the Catholic world. I hope and desire that the most good and great God may recompense your piety and clemency by the unlimited extension of that name. May you continue as you have begun, to assure perpetual peace amongst Christian princes, especially the Emperor and the Most Christian Kings at variance with him, and to unfurl above heretics the standard of faith which brings salvation, and to transmit to posterity an eternal monument of your glory, which no age may ever forget.

1 Although dedicated to Adrian VI., this Decade is addressed to his successor, Clement VII., a natural and posthumous son of Giuliano de' Medici, who had been legitimised by his cousin, Leo X.

'The letters of Cortes to Charles V., known as Cartas de la Relation, contain the earliest description of Mexican civilisation under Montezuma, when the country was first seen by Europeans. Including the letter of the magistrates of Vera Cruz, these letters number five. The following are the editions in different languages of the entire series: Enrique de Vedia in Ribadeneyra's Biblioteca de Aulores Classicas, 1852; Pascual Gayangos, Cartas de Hernan Cortes al Emperador Carlos V.; DesirS Charnay, Lettres de Fernan Cortes a Charles Quint, 1896; Francis MacNutt, Letters of Cortes to Charles V., 1908.

Let us return to our subject. At the close of the preceding book we have mentioned the all-powerful King Muteczuma, who from his capital, Temistitan, situated in a salt lake, imposed laws upon a number of towns and vassal kings. Cortes had sent two Spaniards, Montejo and Portocarrero, to the Emperor Charles, resident at that time in the most celebrated town of Spain, Valladolid, to whom they bore gifts as remarkable for their value as for their beauty. I have enumerated them above. Pending the return of his envoys, Cortes, fearing that idleness would demoralise his soldiers, resolved to continue the expedition he had begun. After securing the large city called Potenchan, governed by the cacique Tabasco, as we have related in the preceding book of the Decades, and afterwards named Victoria in honour of the victory won over a multitude of barbarians,

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