#4 from Monarchia Indiana
(Juan de Torquemada, 1609-1615)

Chimalpopoca’s Victory in Death

With this decision he called some Mexicans and told them his intention, and declared to them the insult that it would cause to them, if perhaps he should die at the hand of King Maxtla, for the case of Tayatzin, because they would baptize this deed with the name of treachery, and that it was not reasonable that this be said of a Mexican King. And although they ought to “make a sentiment,” that is, be sad about it, the Mexicans came to the will of Chimalpopoca, and it seems to be thus true and then the King put in execution the plan that he had, for which (pointing out the Day) he dressed in the clothes of his god Huitzilopuchtli, and with him many Principal Gentleman and Ladies who were to die along with him, and they began to dance, and at the determined hour, when they began similar dances of sacrifices, to sacrifice their offering to the Devil, the Minister began to kill those who were dancing by his order. But as the event was public, there did not fail to be someone who went to Maxtla with the news. He quickly sent people to arrive on time so they could take Chimalpopoca, before the Priests killed him and offered him in sacrifice, and by luck it ought to be, so that he wouldn’t take that glory of having killed himself and offered [himself] in offering and holocaust to his false God.   And it is clear this is his intention; because if it were other, not only would his death not give him (Maxtla) pain, but rather he would rejoice on knowing that he (Chimalpopoca) was dead; since he already thought him an enemy of his kingdom. Maxtla’s people arrived at the place and area where the sacrifice was being carried out at the moment when there were only two more to be sacrificed, after which, as the final conclusion of the sacrifice, Chimalpopoca would die. And arriving suddenly without being heard, they caught him and carried (him) with his clothes in which he was dressed and put him in a very strong cage, that served him as a jail. The Mexicans wanted to take up arms in defense of their King; but as the Tepenecas were many, and they came ready for war, and they (the Mexicans) were having a fiesta, and unworried, their anger that this deed caused them had no effect, and the Tepanecas went away with their King Chimalpopoca very contentedly. King Chimalpopoca [was] imprisoned.

In this cage, they had Chimalpopoca imprisoned and sad, giving him ounces to eat, and seeing himself there and knowing that they had to take him from the cage to give him a cruel and rigorous death, he arranged to kill himself; and so he hanged himself in that jail where he was; considering a better death the one that his hands could give him than the one that he might receive from his enemies, as it was he triumphing over himself rather than his enemy triumphing over him, as Cleopatra and other valiant and strong pagan captains did, who because of being strong, carried out similar deeds in order not to see themselves in foreign hands, with shame and diminished valor and greatness.

And this is the death and the end of this unfortunate King, the third of Mexico, and this death, here related, I have seen it painted in two different histories . . .and when I was doing part of these investigations in Mexico City, with old and wise people, there was among them a man more than sixty years old, and the one who was explaining to me the paintings in the book that we were examining said to me: Father, have this old man speak because he knows this story better than I, for he had understanding of it; and turning toward him, he said, why do you not speak? Since you are the a limb from that trunk, and asking the old man about the event, the old man told me he was a descendant of King Chimalpopoca, and that it was true, that he had died hanged, and had given himself that death, in order not die at the hands of Maxtla, who would have achieved glory and dishonored the Mexican people.

[#4] “Chimalpopoca’s Victory in Death,” from Juan de Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, 3rd edition, vol. 1 (Mexico: Editorial Salvador Chavez Hayhoe, 1943, pp. 123-26), tr. Carolyn Morrow.

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