Pages 21 and 22 of Codex Boturini - Extended Reading
by Karl Young

Some Mexica
continued to be sacrificed
in the temple at Colhuacan.
Then Colhuacan declared war
on Xoximilco, The Place of Flowers.
The strength and endurance of the Mexica
impressed Coxcoxtli and his lords -
they realized The People
must be favored by some god,
or sacred protection,
must be in touch with powers
beyond their knowledge.
The lords of Colhuacan decided
to use the Mexica as soldiers
in their war with Xoximilco.
They offered release from bondage
if the Mexica won them this war.
They thought they couldn't lose:
if the Mexica won their campaigns,
many would be killed,
their numbers would be reduced,
the survivors would be chastened
and they could then be controlled;
if the Mexica lost their campaigns,
they would be rid of them,
their divine power would be broken,
and the strength that had been ebbing
away from the Colhuas would return,
and their troops would be strong enough
to win the war and its glories themselves.
Coxcoxtli instructed the Mexica:
"You may take no prisoners -
just bring me an ear
from each warrior you kill.
We will supply no weapons.
Use what you have,
whether it be knives or sticks or rocks
or your own bare hands."
The Mexica, armed with stone knives,
returned from the fighting
with bag after bag of Xoximilcan ears
and heaped them around
Coxcoxtli's throne.
This terrified the lord of Colhuacan.
He wanted to make them slaves again.
But the war with Xoximilco
rose in his mind:
would such treatment do him honor?
How could he hide it?
Had he the strength to do it?
Were the Fates of the Days
turning against him?
He and his ministers
searched the Books of Days
and the Books of Omens,
sought the precedents of history
and the words of their priests,
watched the course of the stars,
the march of the calendar,
the footprints of animals.
For the moment Coxcoxtli could not act.
But the Mexica
had found their strength again
and did as they pleased,
flouting their prowess
even in the streets of Colhuacan.
They married Colhua women,
increasing their numbers
and strengthening the blood
of their descendants
with the blood of the heirs of Tolan.
They gained military honors
fighting Colhuacan's wars.
They recovered Huitzilipochtli's bundle.
They built a new temple
to the Blue Hummingbird of the South
and earned in battle
all they needed to sustain it.
They elected Tenoch as their leader,
he who would be the founder
of the Promised City.
Some of the people of Colhuacan
were pleased with the Mexica's service -
the state grew rich by their arms.
Others feared them:
if these people were so strong
and their god so powerful,
could they not take Colhuacan itself?

The Mexica went forth
in compact bands
with glass knives in their hands
and war cries sailing from heir mouths
ready -
as had been promised them -
to conquer
the world

Go to Introduction to Codex Boturini

Copyright © 1983 and 1999 by Karl Young