Ancient Mexican Designs by Pepin Van Roojen

By Pepin Van Roojen

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Cortes emerged from it alive, but a different, and in some ways a broken, man. A heightened reli­ gious intensity pervades the letter, as if Cortes had suddenly been made aware of man's weakness in face of the inscrutable ways of a Providence that had seemed for so long to be on his side. The Cortes who staggered ashore at Vera Cruz on May 24, 1526, so thin and weak that people had difficulty in recognizing him, contrasted strangely with the arrogant royal governor who had set out as if on a triumphal procession a year and a half before.

In these circumstances, it was easy enough to tar Cortes with the same brush of rebellion as the Comuneros of Castile. Both in the Indies and in Castile, the em­ peror was faced with treason and revolt. Could the rebellions be crushed, and the emperor's authority be preserved? As far as Mex­ ico was concerned, Fonseca pinned his hopes on the expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez. But in fact, a few days after Charles left for Germany, the fate of Narvaez had been decided. Cortes, marching back to the coast from Tenochtitlan, outmaneuvered, defeated and captured him on May 27.

369. See Irving A. Leonard, Books of the Brave, p. 50. 19. Gomara, p. 296. For Cortes' relationship with Ovando see Ursula Lamb, Frey Nicolas de Ovando, p. 190. 20 Cortes then settled on the island as Velazquez's secretary, but after a while came to blows with the governor. According to Las Casas, Cortes had joined a group of conspirators with grievances against Velazquez and had agreed to take their complaints to the Hieronymite commission in Hispaniola. Velazquez heard of the plot, had Cortes arrested and threatened to hang him.

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