The native documents describing the long siege of Tenochtitlan present a number of vivid and dramatic scenes. We have selected the account by Sahagun's informants preserved in the Codex Florentino.
During one of the first attacks by the Spaniards, the Aztecs took fifteen prisoners and then sacrificed them within sight of their Comrades, who were watching helplessly from the barkentines. The text also describes the tragic suffering of the besieged inhabitants, the Spanish raid on the Tlatelolco market place, the burning of the temple, and the almost incredible courage with which the Aztecs again and again drove back the invaders.
The narrative continues with a description of how the Spaniards set up a catapult on the platform of the small temple in the Tlatelolco market, and concludes with the final efforts of the Aztecs to save their capital. Cuauhtemoc, who had succeeded his uncle Cuitlahuac when the latter died of the plague, decided to dress a captain named Opochtzin in the regalia of King Ahuitzotl, Motecuhzoma's predecessor. It was believed that this regalia invested its wearer with the attributes of the war god Huitzilopochtli, and that if Opochtzin could wound a Spaniard with the sacred arrow called "the fire-serpent," victory was still possible. The attempt was unsuccessful and was followed by a brief period of calm that ended with the final agonies of the dying city.
Fifteen Spaniards Are Captured and Sacrificed
The warriors advanced to the sound of flutes. They shouted their war cries and beat their shields like drums. They pursued the Spaniards, harried and terrified them, and at last took fifteen of them prisoners. The rest of the Spaniards retreated to their ships and sailed out into the middle of the lake.
The prisoners were sacrificed in the place called Tlacochcalco [House of the Arsenal]. Their captors quickly plundered them, seizing their weapons, their cotton armor and everything else, until they stood naked. Then they were sacrificed to the god, while their comrades on the lake watched them being put to death.
Two of the barkentines sailed to Xocotitlan again. They anchored there, and the Spaniards began attacking the houses along the shore. But when Tzilacatzin and other warriors saw what was happening, they ran to the defense and drove the invaders into the water.
On another occasion, the barkentines approached Coyo nacazco to attack the houses. As the ships closed in, a few Spaniards jumped out, ready for battle. They were led by Castaneda and by Xicotencatl, who was wearing his headdress of quetzal feathers.
Then Castaneda shot the catapult. It struck one of the Aztecs in the forehead and he fell dead where he was standing. The warriors charged the Spaniards, driving them into the water, and then loosed a hail of stones from their slings. Castaneda would have been killed in this action if a barkentine had not taken him aboard and sailed away toward Xocotitlan.
Another barkentine was anchored near the turn in the Wall, and still another near Teotlecco, where the road runs straight to Tepetzinco. They were stationed as guards in order to control the lake. They sailed away that night, but after a few days they came back again to their stations.
The Spaniards advanced from the direction of Cuahuecatitlan. Their allies from Tlaxcala, Acolhuacan and Chalco filled up the canal so that the army could pass. They threw in adobe bricks and all the woodwork of the nearby houses: the lintels, the doorjambs, the beams and pillars. They even threw canestalks and rushes into the water.
The Spaniards Attack Again
When the canal had been filled up, the Spaniards marched over it. They advanced cautiously, with their standard-bearer in the lead, and they beat their drums and played their chirimias as they came. The Tlaxcaltecas and the other allies followed close behind. The Tlaxcaltecas held their heads high and pounded their breasts with their hands, hoping to frighten us
with their arrogance and courage. They sang songs as they marched, but the Aztecs were also singing. It was as if both sides were- challenging each other with their songs. They sang whatever they happened to remember and the music strengthened their hearts.
The Aztec warriors hid when the enemy reached solid ground. They crouched down to make themselves as small as possible and waited for the signal, the shout that told them it was the moment to stand up and attack. Suddenly they heard it: "Mexicanos, now is the time! "
The captain Hecatzin leaped up and raced toward the Spaniards, shouting: "Warriors of Tlatelolco, now is the time! Who are these barbarians? Let them come ahead! " He attacked one of the Spaniards and knocked him to the ground, but the Spaniard also managed to knock Hecatzin down. The captain got up and clubbed the Spaniard again, and other warriors rushed forward to drag him away.
Then all the Aztecs sprang up and charged into battle. The Spaniards were so astonished that they blundered here and there Eke drunkards; they ran through the streets with the warriors in pursuit. This was when the taking of captives began. A great many of the allies from Tlaxcala, Acolhuacan, Chalco and Xochimilco were overpowered by the Aztecs, and there was a great harvesting of prisoners, a great reaping of victims to be sacrificed.
The Spaniards and their allies waded into the lake because the road had become too slippery for them. The mud was so slick that they sprawled and floundered and could not stand up to fight. The Aztecs seized them as captives and dragged them across the mud.
The Spanish standard was taken and carried off during this encounter. The warriors from Tlatelolco, captured it in the place known today as San Martin, but they were scornful of their prize and considered it of little importance.
Some of the Spaniards were able to escape with their lives. They retreated in the direction of Culhuacan, on the edge of the canal, and gathered there to recover their strength.
Fifty-three Spaniards Are Sacrificed
The Aztecs took their prisoners to Yacacolco, hurrying them along the road under the strictest guard. Some of the captives were weeping, some were keening, and others were beating their palms against their mouths.
When they arrived in Yacacolco, they were lined up in long rows. One by one they were forced to climb to the temple platform, where they were sacrificed by the priests. The Spaniards went first, then their allies, and all were put to death.
As soon as the sacrifices were finished, the Aztecs ranged the Spaniards' heads in rows on pikes. They also lined up their horses' heads. They placed the horses' heads at the bottom and the heads of the Spaniards above, and arranged them all so that the faces were toward the sun. However, they did not display any of the allies' heads. All told, fifty-three Spaniards and four horses were sacrificed there in Yacacolco.
The fighting continued in many different places. At one point, the allies from Xochimilco surrounded us in their canoes, and the toll of the dead and captured was heavy on both sides.
The Sufferings of the Inhabitants
The Spanish blockade caused great anguish in the city. The people were tormented by hunger, and many starved to death. There was no fresh water to drink,' only stagnant water and the brine of the lake, and many people died of dysentery. The only food was lizards, swallows, corncobs and the salt grasses of the lake. The people also ate water lilies and the seeds of the colorin, and chewed on deerhides and pieces of leather. They roasted and seared and scorched whatever they could find and then ate it. They ate the bitterest weeds and even dirt.
Nothing can compare with the horrors of that siege and the agonies of the starving. We were so weakened by hunger that, little by little, the enemy forced us to retreat. Little by little they forced us to the wall.
The Battle in the Market Place
On one occasion, four Spanish cavalrymen entered the market place. They rode through it in a great circle, stabbing and killing many of our warriors and trampling everything under their horses' hooves. This was the first time the Spaniards
had entered the market place, and our warriors were taken by surprise. But when the horsemen withdrew, the warriors recovered their wits and ran in pursuit.
It was at this same time that the Spaniards set fire to the temple and burned it to the ground. The flames and smoke leaped high into the air with a terrible roar. The people wept when they saw their temple on fire; they wept and cried out, fearing that afterward it would be plundered.
The battle lasted for many hours and extended to almost every corner of the market place. There was no action along the wall where the vendors sold lime, but the fighting raged among the flower stalls, and the stalls offering snails, and all the passageways between them.
Some of our warriors stationed themselves on the rooftops of the Quecholan district, which is near the entrance to the market place, and from there they hurled stones and fired arrows at the enemy. Others broke holes in the rear walls of all the houses of Quecholan, holes just big enough for a man's body to pass through. When the cavalry attacked and were about to spear our warriors, or trample them, or cut off their retreat, they slipped through the holes and the mounted men could not follow.
On another occasion the Spaniards entered Atliyacapan. They ransacked the houses and captured a number of prisoners, but when the warriors saw what was happening, they loosed their arrows and rushed forward to attack. The leader of this attack a valiant chief named Axoquentzin, pressed the enemy so hard that they were forced to release their prisoners and drop all their spoils. But this great chief died when a Spanish sword entered his breast and found his heart.
There were other battles in Yacacolco, where the enemy killed many of the Aztecs with their crossbows. The warriors drew back and tried to waylay the rear guard, but a few of the allies saw them and climbed to the rooftops. They cried: "Warriors of Tlaxcala, come here! Your enemies are here! " The Tlaxcaltecas shot so many arrows at the men in ambush that they had to break and run.
Later in the day, the Aztecs put up a much stronger resistance, and the Spaniards and their allies could not break their ranks. The Tlatelolcas took up positions on the opposite side of the canal, hurling stones and shooting arrows across it. The enemy could not advance or capture any of the bridges.
The Catapult Is Set Up in the Market Place
During this time, the Spaniards mounted a wooden catapult on the temple platform to fling stones at the Indians. While it was being set up, the Indians who had gathered in Amaxac came out to stare at it. They pointed at the machine and asked each other what it could be. When the Spaniards had finished their preparations and were ready to shoot it at the crowd, they wound it up until the wooden beams stood erect. Then they released it like a great sling.
But the stone did not fall among the Indians. It flew over their heads and crashed into a corner of the market place. This seemed to cause an argument among the Spaniards: they gestured toward the Indians and shouted at each other. But still they could not aim the machine correctly. It threw out its stones in every direction.
Finally the Indians were able to see how it worked: it had a sling inside it, worked by a heavy rope. The Indians named it "the wooden sling."
The Spaniards and Tlaxcaltecas retreated again, marching back to Yacacolco and Tecpancaltitlan in closed ranks. Their leader was directing the campaign against us from his headquarters in Acocolecan.
The Aztec Defense
Our warriors rallied to defend the city. Their spirits and courage were high; not one of them showed any fear or behaved like a woman. They cried: "Mexicanos, come here and join us! Who are these savages? A mere rabble from the south!"' They did not move in a direct line; they moved in a zigzag course, never in a straight line.
The Spanish soldiers often disguised themselves so that they would not be recognized. They wore cloaks like those of the Aztecs and put on the same battle dress and adornments, hoping to deceive our warriors into thinking they were not Spaniards.
Whenever the Aztecs saw the enemy notching their arrows, they either dispersed or flattened themselves on the ground. The warriors of Tlatelolco were very alert; they were very cautious and vigilant, and watched intently to see where the shots were coming from.
But step by step the Spaniards gained more ground and captured more houses. They forced us backward along the Amaxac road with their spears and shields.
Cuauhtemoc consulted with a group of his captains and then called in a great captain named Opochtzin, who was a dyer by trade. They dressed him in the finery of the Quetzal owl, which had belonged to King Ahuitzotl. Then Cuauhtemoc said to him: "This regalia belonged to my father, the great warrior Ahuitzotl. Terrify our enemies with it. Annihilate our enemies with it. Let them behold it and tremble."
The king ordered four captains to go with Opochtzin as a rear guard. He placed in the captain's hands the magic object that was the most important part of the regalia.. This was an arrow with a long shaft and an obsidian tip.
The captain Tlacotzin said: "Mexicanos, the power of Huitzilopochtli resides in this finery. Loose the sacred arrow at our enemies, for it is the Serpent of Fire, the Arrow that Pierces the Fire. Loose it at the invaders; drive them away with the power of Huitzilopochtli. But shoot it straight and well, for it must not fall to earth. And if it should wound one or two of our foes, then we shall still have a little time left and a chance to conquer their.. Now, let us see what the god's will may be! "
The Quetzal-Owl departed with the four captains, and the quetzal feathers seemed to open out, making him appear even greater and more terrifying. When our enemies saw him approach, they quaked as if they thought a mountain were about to fall on them. They trembled with dread, as if they knew the finery could work magic.
The Quetzal-Owl climbed up onto a rooftop. When our enemies saw him, they came forward and prepared to attack him, but he succeeded in driving them away. Then he came down from the rooftop with his quetzal feathers and his gold ornaments. He was not killed in this action and our enemies could not capture the feathers or the gold. Three of the enemy soldiers were taken prisoner.
Suddenly the battle ended. Neither side moved against the other; the night was calm and silent, with no incidents of any kind. On the following day, absolutely nothing took place, and neither the Spaniards nor the Indians spoke a word. The Indians waited in their defense works, and the Spaniards waited in their positions. Each side watched the other closely but made no plans for launching an attack. Both sides passed the whole day in this fashion, merely watching and waiting.
The Surrender of Tenochtitlan
The texts in this chapter have been taken from three different indigenous sources. The first selection, by Sahagun's native informants, describes a final omen that presaged the imminent destruction of the Aztec capital. According to this account, it was Cuauhtemoc himself who surrendered Tenochtitlan to the Spaniards. The informants also give an eloquent description of the tragic scenes that accompanied the taking of the city.
The second selection is from the XII relacion by Alva Ixthlilxochitl. Its most memorable passage is the moment when Cuauhtemoc was brought face to face with Cortes. The king placed his hand on the conquistador's dagger and begged him to kill him with it, since he had already destroyed the kingdom.
The last selection is from the VII relacion by Chimalpain, and was translated from Nahuatl to Spanish by Miguel Leon-Portilla. It describes how Cortes bullied and even tortured the Aztec lords in order to obtain the gold and other valuables that the Indians had treasured since ancient times.
The Final Omen
(From the Codex Florentino by Sahagun's informants)
At nightfall it began to rain, but it was more like a heavy dew than a rain. Suddenly the omen appeared, blazing like a great bonfire in the sky. It wheeled in enormous spirals like a whirlwind and gave off a shower of sparks and red-hot coals, some great and some little. It also made loud noises, rumbling and hissing like a metal tube placed over a fire. It circled the wall nearest the lakeshore and then hovered for a while above Coyonacazco. From there it moved out into the middle of the lake, where it suddenly disappeared. No one cried out when this omen came into view: the people knew what it meant and they watched it in silence.
Nothing whatever occurred on the following day. Our warriors and the Spanish soldiers merely waited in their positions. Cortes kept a constant watch, standing under a many colored canopy on the roof of the lord Aztautzin's house, which is near Amaxac. His officers stood around him, talking among themselves.
The Aztec leaders gathered in Tolmayecan to discuss what they should do. Cuauhtemoc and the other nobles tried to determine how much tribute they would have to pay and how best to surrender to the strangers. Then the nobles put Cuauhtemoc into a war canoe, with only three men to accompany him: a captain named Teputztitloloc, a servant named Iaztachimal and a boatman named Cenyautl. When the people saw their chief departing, they wept and cried out: "Our youngest prince is leaving us! He is going to surrender to the Spaniards! He is going to surrender to the 'gods'!
The Spaniards came out to meet him. They took him by the hand, led him up to the rooftop and brought him into the presence of Cortes. The Captain stared at him for a moment and then patted him on the head. Then he gestured toward a chair and the two leaders sat down side by side.
The Spaniards began to shoot off their cannons, but they were not trying to hit anyone. They merely loaded and fired, and the cannonballs flew over the Indians' heads. Later they put one of the cannons into a boat and took it to the house of Coyohuehuetzin, where they hoisted it to the rooftop.
The Flight from the City
Once again the Spaniards started killing and a great many Indians died. The flight from the city began and with this the war came to an end. The people cried: "We have suffered enough! Let us leave the city! Let us go live on weeds! " Some fled across the lake, others along the causeways, and even then there were many killings. The Spaniards were angry because our warriors still carried their shields and macanas.
Those who lived in the center of the city went straight toward Amaxac, to the fork in the road. From there they fled in various directions, some toward Tepeyacac, others toward Xoxohuiltitlan and Nonohualco; but no one went toward Xoloco or Mazatzintamalco. Those who lived in boats or on the wooden rafts anchored in the lake fled by water, as did the inhabitants of Tolmayecan. Some of them waded in water up to their chests and even up to their necks. Others drowned when they reached water above their heads.
The grownups carried their young children on their shoulders. Many of the children were weeping with terror, but a few of them laughed and smiled, thinking it was great sport to be carried like that along the road.
Some of the people who owned canoes departed in the daytime, but the others, the majority, left by night. They almost crashed into each other in their haste as they paddled away from the city.
The Spaniards Humiliate the Refugees
The Spanish soldiers were stationed along the roads to search the fleeing inhabitants. They were looking only for gold and paid no attention to jade, turquoise or quetzal feathers. The women carried their gold under their skirts and the men carried it in their mouths or under their loincloths. Some of the women, knowing they would be searched if they looked prosperous, covered their faces with mud and dressed themselves in rags. They put on rags for skirts and rags for blouses; everything they wore was in tatters. But the Spaniards searched all the women without exception: those with light skins, those with dark skins, those with dark bodies.
A few of the men were separated from the others. These men were the bravest and strongest warriors, the warriors with manly hearts. The youths who served them were also told to stand apart. The Spaniards immediately branded them with hot irons, either on the cheek or the lips.
The day on which we laid down our shields and admitted defeat was the day 1-Serpent in the year 3-House. When Cuauhtemoc surrendered, the Spaniards hurried him to Acachinanco at night, but on the following day, just after sunrise, many of them came back again. They were dressed for battle, with their coats of mail and their metal helmets, but they had left their swords and shields behind. They all tied white handkerchiefs over their noses because they were sickened by the stench of the rotting bodies. They came back on foot, dragging Cuauhtemoc, Coanacotzin and Tetlepanquetzaltzin by their cloaks.
Cortes Demands Gold
When the fighting had ended, Cortes demanded the gold his men had abandoned in the Canal of the Toltecs during the Night of Sorrows. He called the chiefs together and asked them: "Where is the gold you were hiding in the city?"
The Aztecs unloaded it from canoes: there were bars of gold, gold crowns, gold ornaments for the arms and legs, gold helmets and disks of gold. They heaped it in front of the Captain, and the Spaniards came forward to take possession of it. Cortes said: "Is this all the gold in the city? You must bring me all of it."
Tlacotzin replied: "I beg the lord to hear me. All the gold we owned was kept in our palaces. Is it not true that our lords took all of it with them?"
La Malinche told Cortes what Tlacotzin had said. Then ,he translated the Captain's answer: "Yes, it is true. We took it and stamped it with our seal. But we lost in the Canal of the Toltecs when your warriors surprised us. You must bring all back."
Tlacotzin replied: "I beg the god to hear me. The people of Tenochtitlan do not know how to fight in canoes; it is not their custom. This is done only by the people of Tlatelolco, who fought in canoes to defend themselves from your attacks. Is it not possible that the Tlatelolcas took the gold? "
Then Cuauhtemoc said to Tlacotzin: "Yes, it is very possible. Our lords may have taken the wrong people prisoners. Everything suggests it. The rest of the gold must be in Texopan. The gold our lords took is here." Cuauhtemoc pointed at the heap they had unloaded from the canoes.
The Captain replied: "Only this little? "
Tlacotzin said: "Perhaps someone has stolen the rest. Why not search for it? Why not bring it to light? "
La Malinche told him what the Captain replied: "You must bring us two hundred bars of gold of this size." And she held her hands apart to show them the size.
Tlacotzin said: "Perhaps some woman has hidden the gold under her skirts. Why not search for it? Why not bring it to fight?"
Ahuelitoc the Mixcoatlailotlac said: "I beg our lord and master to hear me. Even as late as the reign of Motecuhzoma, the Tepanecas. and the Acolhuas joined the people of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco in conquering our enemies. We all went out together to defeat them; and when they had surrendered, we each went back to our own city. Then the conquered tribes brought us the tribute we had imposed: quetzal feathers, gold, jade, turquoise and other kinds of precious stones, as well as birds with rich plumage, such as the bluejay and the bird with a crimson ruff. All these things were brought here to Tenochtitlan: all the tribute, all the gold. . . ."
The Ravage of Tenochtitlan
(From the XII relacion by Alva Ixtilxochitl)
On the day that Tenochtitlan was taken, the Spaniards committed some of the most brutal acts ever inflicted upon the unfortunate people of this land. The cries of the helpless women and children were heart-rending. The Tlaxcaltecas and the other enemies of the Aztecs revenged themselves pitilessly for old offenses and robbed them of everything they could find. Only Prince Ixtlilxochitl of Tezcoco, ally of Cortes, felt compassion for the Aztecs, because they were of his own homeland. He kept his followers from maltreating the women and children as cruelly as did Cortes and the Spaniards.
At nightfall the invading forces retired again. Prince Ixtlilxochitl, Cortes and the other captains agreed to complete the conquest of the city on the following day, the day of St. Hippolytus the Martyr. Shortly after daybreak, they approached the place where the remnants of the enemy were gathered. Cortes marched through the streets, but Ixtlilxochitl and Sandoval, the captain of the brigantines, approached by water. Ixtlilxochitl had been informed that Cuauhtemoc and his followers were assembling for escape in their canoes.
The anguish and bewilderment of our foes was pitiful to see. The warriors gathered on the rooftops and stared at the ruins of their city in a dazed silence, and the women and children and old men were all weeping. The lords and nobles crowded into the canoes with their king.
The Capture of Cuauhtemoc
At a given signal, our forces attacked the enemy all at once. We pressed forward so swiftly that within a few hours we had totally defeated them. Our brigantines and canoes attacked their flotilla; they could not withstand us but scattered in every direction, with our forces pursuing them. Garcia de Olguin, who commanded one of the brigantines, was told by an Aztec prisoner that the canoe he was following was that of the king. He bore down on it and gradually caught up with it.
Cuauhtemoc, seeing that the enemy was overtaking him, ordered the boatman to turn the canoe toward our barkentine and prepare to attack it. He grasped his shield and macana and was determined to give battle. But when he realized that the enemy could overwhelm him with crossbows and muskets, he put down his arms and surrendered.
Cuauhtemoc Acknowledges His Defeat
Garcia de Olguin brought him before Cortes, who received him with all the respect due to a king. Cuauhtemoc placed his hand on the Captain's dagger and said: I have done everything in my power to save my kingdom from your hands. Since fortune has been against me, I now beg you to take my life. This would put an end to the kingship of Mexico, and it would be just and right, for you have already destroyed my city and killed my people." He spoke other grief-stricken words, which touched the heart of everyone Who heard them.
Cortes consoled him and asked him to command his warriors to surrender. Cuauhtemoc immediately climbed onto a high tower and shouted to them to cease fighting, for everything had fallen to the enemy. Of the 300,000 warriors who had defended the city, 60,000 were left. When they heard their king, they laid down their arms and the nobles came forward to comfort him.
Ixtlilxochitl was eager to clasp Cuauhtemoc's hand. The prince arrived in one of the two brigantines that were taking various lords and ladies to Cortes; among these were Tlacahuepantzin, son of Motecuhzoma, and Queen Papantzin Oxomoc, widow of Cuitlahuac. Ixtlilxochitl led them into the Captain's presence. Then he ordered that the queen and the other ladies be taken to Tezcoco and held there under guard.
That same day, after looting the city, the Spaniards apportioned all the gold and silver among themselves, leaving the feathers and precious stones for the nobles of Tezcoco and the cloaks and other objects for their warriors.
The Length of the Siege
The siege of Tenochtitlan, according to the histories, paintings and chronicles, lasted exactly eighty days. Thirty thousand men from the kingdom of Tezcoco were killed during this time, of the more than 200,000 who fought on the side of the Spaniards. Of the Aztecs, more than 240,000 were killed. Almost all of the nobility perished: there remained alive only a few lords and knights and the little children.
Cortes Deals with the Nobles and Priests
(From the VII relacion by Chimalpain)
When the arms and trappings of war had been put aside, the lords were brought together in Acachinanco. These were Cuauhtemoc, lord of Tenochtitlan; Tlacotzin, the serpent woman; Oquiztzin, lord of Azcapotzalco; Panitzin, lord of Ecatepec; and Motelhuihtzin, the royal steward. The lastnamed was not a prince, but he was a great captain during the war. Cortes ordered that they be bound and taken to Coyoacan. Panitzin, however, was not bound. At Coyoacan they were thrown into prison, where the Spaniards burned their feet.
It was at this same time that the Spaniards questioned the priests Cuauhcoatl, Cohuayhuitl, Tecohuentzin and Tetlanmecatl about the gold that had been lost in the Canal of the Toltecs. The Spaniards also demanded the eight bars of gold that had been stored in the palace under the care of the steward Ocuitecatl. The steward had died of smallpox during the plague. Only his son was left; and when he discovered that four of the eight bars had disappeared, he immediately fled.
The five lords who had been taken to Coyoacan were led from the prison, and Cortes addressed them through his interpreters, Jeronimo de Aguilar and La Malinche: "I want to know who the rulers of the city were, and also who ruled the Tepanecas and the people of Acolhuacan, Chalco and Xochimilco."
The five lords deliberated for a while. Then Tlacotzin said: "I beg the god to hear these few words of mine. I had no lands whatever when I first came here; the Tepanecas, the Acolhuas and the people of Chalco and Xochimilco all had lands. I made myself their lord with arrows and shields, and took possession of their lands. But what I did was no more than what you have done, for you also have come here with arrows and shields to capture all our cities."
When the Captain heard this, he turned to the other lords, and spoke in a voice ringing with authority: "He came here with arrows and shields to seize your lands. He forced you to be his servants. But now that I have come, I set you free. You are no longer his vassals. Your lands are your own again."