Stefan RinkeJul 22, 2023
Conquistadors and Aztecs
A History of the Fall of Tenochtitlan
Oxford University Press 2023
Five hundred years ago, a flotilla landed on the coast of Yucatán under the command of the Spanish conquistador Hérnan Cortés. While the official goal of the expedition was to explore and to expand the Christian faith, everyone involved knew that it was primarily about gold and the hunt for slaves.
That a few hundred Spaniards destroyed the Aztec empire--a highly developed culture--is an old chestnut, because the conquistadors, who had every means to make a profit, did not succeed alone. They encountered groups such as the Tlaxcaltecs, who suffered from the Aztec rule and were ready to enter into alliances with the foreigners to overthrow their old enemy. In addition, the conquerors benefited from the diseases brought from Europe, which killed hundreds of thousands of locals.
Drawing on both Spanish and indigenous sources, this account of the conquest of Mexico from 1519 to 1521 not only offers a dramatic narrative of these events--including the fall of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and the flight of the conquerors--but also represents the individual protagonists on both sides, their backgrounds, their diplomacy, and their struggles. It vividly portrays the tens of thousands of local warriors who faced off against each other during the fighting as they attempted to free themselves from tribute payments to the Aztecs.
Written by a leading historian of Latin America, Conquistadors and Aztecs: A History of the Fall of Tenochtitlan (Oxford UP, 2023) offers a timely portrayal of the fall of Tenochtitlan and the founding of an empire that would last for centuries.