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Military Force


  • How did Cortés understand and represent his defeat of the Aztecs?
  • How did indigenous writers make sense of this defeat?

Primary Sources

  • Cortés, Hernán, Letters from Mexico, trans. Anthony Pagden, Yale University Press (New Haven, 2001), letters 2 and 3.
  • OR
  • Schwartz, Stuart, ed., Victors and Vanquished: Spanish and Nahua Views of the Conquest of Mexico, St. Martin’s Press (Boston, 2000).

Required Secondary Readings

  • Clendinnen, Inga, ‘‘Fierce and Unnatural Cruelty’: Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico’, Representations, vol. 33 (1991), pp. 65-100.
  • OR
  • Fernández Armesto, Felipe, ‘Aztec Auguries and Memories of the Conquest of Mexico’, Renaissance Studies, vol. 6, issues 3-4 (1992) (available in the library in hard copy)

Additional Readings

  • Brooks, Francis “Motecuzoma Xoyocotyl, Hernán Cortés, and Bernal Díaz del Castillo: The Construction of an Arrest,” Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 75:2 (1995).
  • Leon-Portilla, Miguel, The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico, Beacon Press (Boston, 1966).
  • Schroeder, Susan, ‘Looking Back at the Conquest: Nahua Perceptions of Early Encounters from the Annals of Chimalpahin’, Chipping Away on Earth: Studies in Prehispanic and Colonial Mexico in Honor of Arthur J.O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble, ed. Eloise Quiñones Keber (Lancaster, Ca, 1994).