Part 3 of the Spanish Invasion
...and war with Tlascala
With a couple of thousand Totonac guides, porters, allies and/or hostages, the conquistadors marched inland. The Tlaxcalans were fierce enemies of the Aztecs, an enmity which would make them Cortés' staunchest allies in the coming war and earn them a special tax exemption throughout the 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. At first they believed he was in cahoots with Moctezuma and they opposed him with tens of thousands of armed warriors. They had several pitched battles and many skirmishes. Thousands of Indians were killed, and most of the conquistadors were wounded; Díaz reports that they used the fat of dead Indians to dress their wounds, no other dressing being at hand. A Tlaxcalan general sent emissaries to sue for peace; when they turned out to be spies, Cortés had their hands chopped off and sent them back. Eventually, the Tlaxcalans sued for peace.
The victory of Cortés' small band over the vastly more numerous Tlaxcalans, whom the Aztecs had been unable to conquer in 100 years, must have been shocking news to Moctezuma.
NOTE: Quotes from Díaz and Cortés are from the following sources:
The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Díaz del Castillo. Translated by J. M. Cohen. Penguin Books, 1963.
Letters from Mexico, Hernán Cortés. Translated by Anthony Pagden. Yale University Press, 1986.