08 Nov The Meeting*
“…King Montecuma accompanied with his Nobles, and those of the most distinguished Rank in his Court, entertain’d the Spaniards with all sorts of Divertisements, to testify how mightily they were pleased with their Arrival. The King’s Brother came to meet ’em with a splendid Retinue; he made ’em noble Presents in Gold and Silver, and gave ’em rich Stuffs painted with divers Colours: the King himself receiv’d ’em at the entrance of the City with all his Court, being carried upon a Golden Frame, or Chair of State, and conducted ’em to the Palace that was provided for ’em. But the same day they seiz’d this unfortunate Prince, who though of nothing less, and posted fourscore Souldiers to guard him, having loaded him with a heavy Chain. This Action put all the Indians in a Consternation and Fear. But to augment their Terror, they contriv’d to signalize their Cruelty by some memorable Action. All the Nobility of the City was engag’d in representing Plays and Shows, and in dancing round the place where their King was imprison’d, to allay the Troubles of his Mind during his Captivity; in these Plays they expos’ to view all their Riches and Magnificence. These were the Demonstrations of their Joy, and of the desire they had to please the Spaniards. The Nobles and Princes of the Blood, according to their several degrees, were employ’d in these Plays and Dances…so that there were about the Palace two thousand young Men that were the very flower of the whole Kingdom, and the Price and Glory of the Court of King Montecuma: While they were thus engag’d, the Commander of the Spaniards with one of his Troops came to fall upon ’em. He sent the rest of his Souldiers into the other quarters of the City,…ordering ’em to seem to join in with these Indian Sports, as if they were mightily pleas’d with ’em, but withal giving ’em a word to put these Dancers at a certain time to the Sword…Since this time they don’t forget to celebrate the memory of this barbarous Action with their Sighs and Tears, and have put this day in the Rank of their most unfortunate ones, since in it they lost in a moment the most illustrious Nobility of the whole Kingdom.”
— Bartolome de las Casas
“It is a wonder to see how, when a man greatly desires something and strongly attaches himself to it in his imagination, he has the impression at every moment that whatever he hears and sees argues in favor of that thing.” — Bartolome de las Casas
“In this place they had a drum of most enormous size, the head of which was made of the skins of large serpents: this instrument when struck resounded with a noise that could be heard to the distance of two leagues, and so doleful that it deserved to be named the music of the infernal regions…”
–Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Graz: Akademische Druck-u. Verlgsanstalt, 1974
F1219 C642 oversize
Facsimile. From the commentary volume: “The style of Codex Borbonicus…is the Aztec style of pre-conquest times. A certain impurity of the style suggests that the item is a copy from early colonial times…The first two and the last two pages are lacking. The annotations in Spanish are senseless. The contents form a unity, consisting of 1) the 260-day tonalpohualli; 2) the 52 years, connected with the tonalamatl and bearing designations after the days of this cycle; 3) complementing to that the annual celebrations (of the passing from the first to the second year of the cycle); 4) the continuation (from the third year of the cycle on) until the year of making the new fire, 2 reed. [The first section consists of] the 20 thirteen-day’s weeks of the 260-day cycle (tonalpohualli), with respect to divination and ritual. The codex contains two series of gods in different functions, although sometimes the same gods are represented. Gods presiding the days of the nine-night’s week and gods as well as auguric birds presiding the thirteen-day’s week are represented in detail…[The second section consists of] the cycle of fifty-two 365-day’s years (xiuhmolpilli) with respect to the calendar. Each 26 of the fifty-two years are assigned to different gods. Assigned to all years are those…who in the tonalpohualli…are in charge for the first day of the year (the year’s bearer)…[The third section consists of] the celebrations of the eighteen 20-day’s sections (ilhuitl) of the year (and five days) of the 365-day’s year, with respect to ritual. The functions of the gods in the third section are totally different from those in the first section…The main life of the gods does not become visible in human life. For instance, when Chalchiuhtlicue in the tonalpohualli is characterized by the dangerous aspect of water, the torrential flood, she plays in the ritual a totally different part – she and her sisters (Vixtociuatl and Chicomecoatl) are the giver of life, as they represent – or are identical to water, salt and maize. [The fourth section consists of] the fifty-two year’s xiuhmolpilli with respect to ritual…celebration, izcalli, is repeated with the year’s indication 3 flint. This celebration is situated a full year after the last celebration of the third section.” Karl Anton Novotny
“The Codex Borbonicus…has been in the possession of the…(Palais Bourbon) since 1826…the manuscript…is arranged as a screen-fold. The pages are made up of sheets or strips of paper overlapping and adhering to each other…According to the traditional technique, the paper is made of beaten tree-bark (amaquahuitl)…The manuscript is painted on one face only and reveals the work of at least two artists.” Jacqueline de Durand-Forest
Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1966
F1219 B645 1966
Facsimile. Identified as pre-Columbian, this Aztec book has been identified as coming from the south of Tenochtitlan, perhaps Cuicatec or Mazatec. Another identification places is as Olmec, along the Gulf Coast. The oldest page in the manuscript, dedicated to Tlacloc, is similar to the style of Tajin in the Totonac country. The deities are members of the Aztec-Toltec pantheon. The counts of days are arranged in a series of dots representing suns; but when dealing with the numbers of things selected for offerings the count is made in a bar and dot system like that used by the Maya. It is possible that this work originated on the coast of Vera Cruz and was among the first consignment of Mexican treasures sent by Hernando Cortés to Charles V. The screen-fold is made of tanned deer skin, prepared by scraping and smoking, beaten and rubbed with fat. The points of the folds were carefully planned. The skin was prepared for writing by adding a thick layer of quick-drying lime paste, with a hard surface possibly achieved by lacquering the paint with chia-seed oil. As for the paints: the red is probably from cochineal (a scale insect), the others finely powdered minerals. The book deals thematically with the passage of life and its dangers. The opening page depicts the sun with a falling eagle descending into the dark clouds of sunset which rise from the jaws of Death who is sacrificing a victim. On either side of the page four pairs of deities stand on the earth. These are accompanied by a numerical sequence.
Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck -u. Verlagsanstalt, 1971
F1219 C66 19171
Facsimile. Thought to predate the Columbian Encounter, this codex is painted on deerskin. “The image depicts the cosmos and its relation to the 260-day calendar, the tonalpohualli. At the center of the page is the fire god Xiuhtecuhlti holding a bundle of spears and wielding at atlatl. Flanking him in the four cardinal directions are different types of t-shaped trees. In the interstices of these directions are bird that each bear one of four year signs. Jagged streaks of red represent the four dismembered pieces of Tezcatlipoca, which established space and direction thereby creating the cosmos. East is at the top, west on the bottom, north to the left and south to the right. The directions surround Xiuhtecuhlti, the god of fire. Five motifs appear between the four trees and the birds of the year sign. Each of these motifs represent one of the 20 trecenas, or 13 day periods that compose the calendar.”
Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck -u. Verlagsanstalt, 1976
F1219 C65 1976
Facsimile. The Codex Borgia is one of a few Mesoamerican codices believed to have been written before the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Created in the sphere of influence of Cholula, probably in southern or western Puebla. There are scholars who argue that the codex was produced soon after the conquest as a copy of a pre-Columbian product. The original Nahua ritual manuscript consists of fourteen pieces of deer skin of varying length, glued together to form a continuous strip covered with writing on both sides, and folded into thirty-seven leaves. According to ancient beliefs reflected in this manuscript, the universe is populated by gods and human beings, the two inseparable and part of the whole. Page 28 is divided into five compartments – one in each corner and one in the center. In each a male is hovering over a female. Each female wears a headdress but is otherwise naked. The couples are set with maize stalks. The glyphs record dates. In each compartment two glyphs represent days and one represents a year. This page then, represents five consecutive years.One scholar has suggested that this page represents pollination.
Two gods sit back-to-back. The skeletal god holds a human arm covered with sores.
“When we met I dismounted and went to embrace him alone, but those two lords who were with him stopped me with their hands so that I should not touch him.” — Hernando Cortés
“Therefore you may be certain that we shall obey you and hold you as our lord in place of that great lord of whom you speak; and in this there shall be no mistake or deceit whatsoever. And you may well command as you will in all the land — that is, all that I possess in my domain — for you shall in fact be obeyed; and all that we own is for you to dispose of as you wish. And thus you are in your own homeland and your own house…” — Montezuma, according to Hernando Cortés
Historia de nueva-espana, esxcrita por su…
Hernan Cortés (1485-1547)
Mexico: Impr. Del superior gobierno, J. A. de Hogal, 1770
After the conquest of Tenochtitlan, Hernán Cortés sent a series of letters to Carlos I, King of Spain. The letters are reports carefully designed to defend Cortés’s credentials as commander and loyal subject, but also to justify his shaky legal position. He was technically in rebellion against the Crown for having rejected the authority of his superior, the governor of Cuba. The letters, then, are great fictional embellishments of the conquest, painting its leader as an extraordinary military strategist who will eventually win a new empire for his king. Three surviving letters are re-published here, in an edition which includes copperplates and a map by Jose Mariano Navarro based on a 1541 representation of the coast of “Mar de el sur.” This edition also includes historical material; an essay by seventeenth century Franciscan Agustin de Betancourt and a reproduction of a Mexican manuscript. This is a masterpiece of Mexican colonial printing. The editor, Antonio Lorenzana, archbishop of Mexico from 1766-1772, deliberately promoted the printing arts in Mexico during his term. Lorenzana’s commentary and research makes this edition of the letters the most used by subsequent writers. Lorenzana included the first printing of glyphs from a Mexican manuscript, representing an itemized list of tribute paid to the ruling cities of the Valley of Mexico before the conquest. The edition also includes a list of viceroys from Cortés to the Marquis de Croix, an account of Cortés’ voyage to Baja California, and a report of all subsequent expeditions to California up to 1769. The map, also here in its first printing, is now lost.
“The physical epicenter of the known world, the world Montezuma knew and ruled, was the Great Temple. It represented the world vertically: the massive pyramid embodied the earth, the twin temples at its top embodied the heavens; the base, and the layers of sacred offerings below it, embodied the underworld. But the Great Temple was also the center of the world in horizontal terms: imagine its pyramid as the entry point of a stone landing in a pond (or, to use the metaphor from Aztec mythology, the spot where an eagle with a serpent in its mouth landed on a cactus); the first ripple in the pond is Tenochtitlan’s center, with its ceremonial precinct, its temples and palaces and zoos; the next ripple is the island city itself; the next is the Basin of Mexico, then the empire of the Aztecs, then the rest of Mesoamerica, bounded by seas.” — Matthew Restall, When Montezuma Met Cortés
“It must be added to this that they who were conquered knew and gave their versions of many things which happened among them during the war, things that those who conquered them did not know. For this reason I do not believe that the writing of this history, written while they were still alive those who were in that same conquest, has been superfluous. They gave their version, and they were principal people of sound judgment, and it is certain that they told the whole truth.”
Historia general de las cosas de nueva espana
Bernardino de Sahagûn (d. 1590)
Mexico : Impr. Del ciudadano A. Valdes, 1829-1830
Friar Bernardino Sahagûn was one of the first Catholic missionaries to the Aztecs. During his stay in Mexico, which began in 1529, he became fluent in Nahuatl (the native language) and gained an intimate comprehension of the Aztec culture, customs, religion and infrastructure. He compiled a large and richly detailed record of the Aztecs and their history before the Spanish conquest. His work was an early European attempt of analysis from the subject’s point of view, by using native informants in his research. The work, written in 1540, was originally an illustrated manuscript of twelve books in a combination of Nahuatl and Spanish. This first printed edition is in Spanish only. Topics include government and monarchy; gold and precious stone industry; sacrificial divination; and Aztec theology and moral philosophy.
Entre los remedios q do Fray Bartolome Delas Casas
Bartolome de las Casas (1474-1566)
Fue impressa…en… Seuilla en las casas de Jacome Croberger. Acabose a diez siete dias del mes de Agosto ano de mill quinientos cinquenta y dos anos. (1552)
Bartolomeo de las Casas was a major force behind the passage in 1542 of Spanish laws prohibiting Indian slavery and safeguarding the rights of the Indians. He was met with powerful opposition for his pleas on behalf of the Indians, but he captured the attention of Charles V, who eventually made de las Casas a bishop for his philanthropic work. De las Casas marred his record as a social reformer by condoning the enslavement of black Africans in order to spare the Indians. His writings were widely translated and widely read. English translations of his works were used to foment English feeling against the Spanish and to promote the belief that Spanish colonies would be better off in English hands. In 1525, a Royal Order granted printer Jacobo Croberger a monopoly on the book trade in New Spain. In 1539, printing was established in the New World through a contract between Croberger and another printer.
An account of the first voyages and discoveries…
Bartolome de las Casas (1474-1566)
London: Printed by J. Darby for D. Brown, 1699
This is a translation of the French edition of 1697, containing six of De Las Casas’s nine tracts on Spanish atrocities in New Spain. The first English translation was printed in 1656 under the title Tears of the Indians. That edition places the number of victims at 20 million, a figure that was doubled in this edition. The first edition of De Las Casas’s famous “Indian Tracts,” the earliest report of Spanish atrocities in the Americas, and the first to condemn these atrocities, was written in Spain in 1539. Its publication was forbidden until 1552. De Las Casas, a son of one of Columbus’s sailors, went to New Spain in 1502 with its governor, Nicolas de Ovando. He is thought to be the first priest ordained in America. At the time, this work provided the principal sources of information on South America, particularly the state of its indigenous populations. De Las Casas’s account of horror was used by England and other European countries as fodder for their own political struggles with Spain. Illustrated with twenty-two engravings after Theodore De Bry (1528-1598) on four leaves.
“To many of us it appeared doubtful whether we were asleep or awake; nor is the manner is which I express myself to be wondered at, for it must be considered, that never yet did man see, hear, or dream of any thing equal to the spectacle which appeared to our eyes on this day…When I beheld the scenes that were around me, I thought within myself that this was the garden of the world!”
“[We] proceeded by the grand causeway, which is eight yards wide, and runs into a straight line to the city of Mexico. It was crowded with people, as were all the towers, temples, and causeways, in every part of the lake, attracted by curiosity to behold men, and animals, such as never had been before seen in these countries. “
“When we came near certain towers which are almost close to the city, Montezuma who was then there quitted his litter, and was borne in the arms of the princes of Tezcuco, Iztapalapa, Tacuba, and Cuyoacan, under a canopy of the richest materials, ornamented with green feathers, gold, and precious stones that hung in the manner of fringe; he was most richly dressed and adorned, and wore buskins of pure gold ornamented with jewels. The princes who supported him were dressed in rich habits…others who preceded the monarch spread mantles on the ground, lest his feet should touch it. All who attended him, except the four princes, kept their eyes fixed upon the earthy, not daring to look him in the face.”
“…and Montezuma said, “Malintzin, here you and your friends are at home; now repose yourselves.”
True History of the Conquest of Mexico
Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1496-1584)
London: Printed for J. Wright, by J. Dean, 1800
First English edition
Díaz Bernal del Castillo was a Spanish soldier, with the rank of sergeant, under the command of Hernan Cortés. He participated in Spanish campaigns against the Aztec, from the planning stages in Havana to the acquisition of Doña Marina as an interpreter, to the first contact with emissaries of Montezuma, through the “Noche Triste” and the murderous retreat from Tenochitlan, to the fall of the empire. Díaz del Castillo went on to participate in later expeditions of discovery and conquest. His work, with descriptions of battles is enriched by descriptions of elements of Aztec culture such as human sacrifice, from the view of the Conquistadores. Díaz del Castillo wrote his manuscript beginning sometime in 1552 and finshed it, at the age of 84, by 1580. He was unable to get it published in his lifetime. It was finally published in Madrid in 1632, after the manuscript was discovered in the records of the Council of the Indies. No known copies exist in Díaz del Castillo’s own hand, however. Because he wrote and rewrote it, he likely had several intermediate manuscript copies, most probably dictated to several scribes over a period of time. In this English edition, translated by Maurice Keatinge, Díaz del Castillo is styled Captain, perhaps to lend more weight to the veracity of the storyteller.
“They unanimously gave him their votes, saying he was mature, virtuous, very generous, of invincible spirit, and adorned with all the virtues that could be found in a good ruler; his advice and decisions were always right, especially in matters of war, in which he had ordered and undertaken things that showed his invincible spirit.”
Historia de las indias de nueva-espana y islas de…
Diego Duran (d. 1588?)
Mexico: Imprenta de J. M. Andrede y F. Escalante…, 1867-1880
F1219 D94 1876
This is the first printed edition of a mid-16th century manuscript. Diego Durán, a Dominican friar, wrote this, one of the earliest Western books on the history and culture of the Aztecs. Durán was born in Spain. He traveled with his family to Mexico as a toddler. While in Texcoco, he learned Nahuatl. His family moved to Mexico City, where he was exposed to Aztec culture under colonial rule. Durán’s book was much criticized during his lifetime for his sympathetic attitude toward the Aztec peoples and their culture. He wrote, “Some person’s (and they are not a few) say that my work will revive ancient customs and rites among the Indians.” Durán’s manuscript, probably finished by 1581, remained unpublished until it was found in the Library of Madrid by José Fernando Ramírez. The manuscript contains seventy-eight chapters spanning the Aztec creation story to post-Colonialism. It includes a chronology of the Aztec kings. Durán’s sources are unknown. It was very typical of sixteenth century writers to borrow material from others without citation. Certainly Durán worked closely with the Aztec, and would have gained much of his knowledge from them. Durán himself was cited by Agustin Davila Padilla in his later history. The entire run of the first volume of this publication was confiscated by the government of Mexico. The printer, J. F. Ramirez left Mexico soon after. In 1880, volume two and an atlas volume were published under the direction of D. Gumersindo Mendoza, Director of the Museo Nacional. University of Utah copy lacks atlas with lithographs. University of Utah copy gift of Charles Dibble.]
Origen de los Indios de el Nuevo Mundo, e Indias Occidentales
Gregorio Garcia (d. 1627)
Madrid: En la imprenta de F. Martinez Abad, 1729
Garcia’s work, along with that of Las Casas is one of the standard European sources for the early study of American Indians. Garcia spent twenty years as a missionary among the Indians of South America. This work was the result of his research, prepared for publication after his return to Spain in 1607. Aside from his personal observations of indigenous customs, Garcia examined in detail the numerous opinions regarding the origin of native Americans. Among the most prominent theories explored are their derivation from the Carthaginians, their being the lost tribe of Israel, that Peru was the Ophir of Solomon, and that they were Roman descendants who came to the New World via Asia. The work contains citations from many now-lost documents. The additions to the second edition were made by Gonzales Barcia. Because of these additions, the second edition is considered the better of the two.
“Monarch of Empires, and deserving more
Than the Sun sees upon your Western shore
Like you a Man, and hither led by Fame,
Not by constraint, but by my choice I came;
Ambassadour of Peace, if Peace you chuse,
Or Herald of a War if you refuse.”
The Indian Emperor: or, The Conquest of Mexico…
John Dryden (1631-1700)
London: Printed for H. Herringman, 1668
PR3612 S6 1687
Scholars still argue about the sources for John Dryden’s Restoration play premised on the monumental meeting between Hernan Cortés (1485-1547) and Montezuma at the palace of the Aztec Empire in 1519. Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the fact, the play contributed to the myth of European “discovery” of the “New World.” (In the dedicatory epistle to the Duchess of Monmouth, Dryden wrote of the “…Discovery and Conquest of a new World.”) The drama became a fundamental part of the European Encounter narrative and of European literary representation of indigenous Americans. While both Montezuma and Cortés are portrayed gently, the Indian subjects of Montezuma’s reign are rebellious and self-serving. In the end, Cortés is the hero. The discourse over imperialism in the 17th century carried constructions of sex, love, and honor. Colonization of North American lands and culture was viewed as a means to control wilderness, barbarism, and paganism. Dryden appropriated indigenous culture as a means to address the political instabilities in Restoration England. First produced in 1665, the play raised Dryden’s reputation as England’s premier playwright. The play contained lavish scenes including flying demon and ghosts; and graphic scenes, such as Montezuma stretched on the rack in full-view.
“Every impulse of his natural Ferocity gave Way to Fear and Weakness.”
HISTORIA DE LA CONQUISTA DE MEXICO: POBLACION, Y…
Antonio de Solis (1610-1686)
Barcelona: Joseph Llopis, 1691
Antonio de Solis, a playwright, was Secretary of State to Philip IV. Recognized for his literary skills, he was appointed chief chronicler of the Indies in 1667. In this work, he chronicled the years between the appointment of Hernan Cortés to command the Spanish Army to the Americas and the fall of Mexico City. Solis included a section on the relationship between Cortés and Montezuma. He also gave detailed descriptions of the lives of the native populations of Mexico, including religious beliefs and rites, idols, hymns, industries, arts, crafts, games and pedagogy. Solis underscored the courage of the conquistadors as they fought the “savage” indigenous peoples. His principle sources were the letters of Cortés, the works of Francisco Lopez de Gomara, Bernal Diaz del Castillo and miscellaneous documents. The first edition of this work was printed in Madrid in 1684. The work was extremely popular, printed numerous times in many languages in the next three centuries. Title page embellished with a large woodcut showing the arms of the dedicatee Don Guileen de Rocafull y Rocaberti.
*”That encounter was not just a meeting, but also one of the greatest meetings of human history — the moment when two empires, two great civilizations, were brought irreversibly together…I call it the Meeting, with a capital M. ” Matthew Restall, When Montezuma met Cortés
Restall, Matthew. When Montezuma Met Cortés. New York: HarperCollins, 2018
F1230 R473 2019 General Collection, Level 2
D’Olwer, Nicolau. Fray Bernardino de Sahagun. Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 1987
F1231 S33 N513 1987 General Collection, Level 2