Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Instructor: Dr. Barbara J. Becker
The Plague Named Totomonjztli
from the Twenty-ninth chapter, Book XII
The Florentine Codex, or Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España (c.1579)
created under the supervision of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (c.1499-1590)
|Here is related how the plague came, named Totomonjztli [smallpox],
of which the natives died, when the Spaniards set forth from Mexico.
And [even] before the Spaniards had risen against us, a pestilence first came to be prevalent: the smallpox. It was [the month of] Tepeilhuitl when it began, and it spread over the people as great destruction. Some it quite covered [with pustules] on all parts -- their faces, their heads, their breasts, etc. There was great havoc. Very many died of it. They could not walk; they only lay in their resting places and beds. They could not move; they could not stir; they could not change position, nor lie on one side, nor face down, nor on their backs. And if they stirred, much did they cry out. Great was its destruction. Covered, mantled with pustules, very many people died of them. And very many starved; there was death from hunger, [for] none could take care of [the sick]; nothing could be done for them.
And on some the pustules were widely separated; they suffered not greatly, neither did many [of them] die. Yet many people were marred by them on their faces; one's face or nose was pitted. Some lost their eyes; they were blinded.
At this time, this pestilence prevailed sixty days, sixty day signs. When it left, when it abated, when there was recovery and the return of life, the plague had already moved toward Chalco, whereby many were disabled -- not, however, completely crippled. When it came to be prevalent, [it was the month of] Teotl eco. And when it went, weakened, it was Panquetzaliztli. Then the Mexicans, the chieftains, could revive....