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seminar/work in progress: Dr Harald Braun (University of Liverpool) 'Violence, Emotion and 'Just War' in the Conquest of Mexico'

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Location: H3.03 Humanities building, University of Warwick

All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Dr Harald Braun will present work-in-progress on an aspect of his current research.


This working paper will explore connections between the histories of violence, emotion and scholastic legal-political thought in early modern Europe and the Americas. I am looking at how specific legal and moral norms operated in relation to the perpetration and emotional response to mass violence. The case study is a controversial instance of collective violence on the American main - the ‘Matanza de Cholula’ (Massacre of Cholula) in 1519, the mass slaughter of members of an indigenous community by Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés and their indigenous allies. My starting point is that contemporary accountTlaxcalan colour drawing of Massacre of Cholulas of the massacre and subsequent debate mingle juridical, deceptively rational conceptualizations of legitimate and illegitimate violence with emotional responses to massacre. The strategies of justification and incrimination employed by participants in this debate indicate that they were to some degree conscious of these connections. The debate about the Matanza de Cholula serves as a window into a comparatively neglected but crucial aspect of the debate on the natural rights of the Amerindian population, early modern ‘just war theory’ and the legitimacy of empire: how early modern notions of pre-emptive strike (part of the ius ad bellum) and just conduct in war (ius in bello) interacted with the emotional and moral response to collective violence.

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