Hernan Cortes: from second letter to Charles V, 1520
“IN ORDER, most potent Sire, to convey to your Majesty a just conception of the great extent of this noble city of Temixtitlan, and of the many rare and wonderful objects it contains; of the government and dominions of Moctezuma, the sovereign: of the religious rights and customs that prevail, and the order that exists in this as well as the other cities appertaining to his realm: it would require the labor of many accomplished writers, and much time for the completion of the task. I shall not be able to relate an hundredth part of what could be told respecting these matters; but I will endeavor to describe, in the best manner in my power, what I have myself seen; and imperfectly as I may succeed in the attempt, I am fully aware that the account will appear so wonderful as to be deemed scarcely worthy of credit; since even we who have seen these things with our own eyes, are yet so amazed as to be unable to comprehend their reality. But your Majesty may be assured that if there is any fault in my relation, either in regard to the present subject, or to any other matters of which I shall give your Majesty an account, it will arise from too great brevity rather than extravagance or prolixity in the details; and it seems to me but just to my Prince and Sovereign to declare the truth in the clearest manner, without saying anything that would detract from it, or add to it”.
One of the great Aztec warriors, Cortez the conqueror of the empire of Aztec documented his achievement to the king of Spain at the time. In his second letter, he recognizes the power and presence of Charles V and the order he has bestowed to the realm. The powerful empire at the time was intent on expanding their territory to reach an area that was not exposed to their type of civilization. The significance of the periodic letters is to update the powerful king Charles of the achievements in his conquest of México.
The passage relates to the whole letter in that it emphasizes the presence of Cortez at the time of the conquering of the powerful Aztec nation. Although he was under the authority of the governor from Cuba, Cortez did not hesitate to state that his actions were a direct order from the king. This means that it is through King Charles that he derived the authority to take part in the formation of the New México.
One of the themes of the passage in relation to the letter is seen in his praise for the work he had accomplished. The powerful Aztecs were a force to be recognized in that they had accomplished achievements of their own. These achievements were known by the entire European territory. The fact that Cortez was able to penetrate into this powerful community brings out the strong influence of Spain at this period. The second letter to the king is thus not only an update of the work he had accomplished. It is also metaphoric in that it emphases the ability of the Spanish army and their subsequent expansion that did not go unrecognized.
Letters played a significant role during this day and age. It is through this passage that one views the significance if the message to the king. Another theme to note is the constant praise of the king and his leadership of his territories. This shows the vital role of a leader and the enforcement of his complete authority. Through his achievements, Cortez managed to rise from his position as a leader of the army, to the worrier whose efforts led to the emergence of a new nation.