Week 5: Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Spain and Mexico: Cortés


Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca (1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.


You will see four books below. First there is the Bernal Diaz eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico.  You will definitely want to buy this and read it.  It is an extraordinary document that tells the whole story from the point of view of a very acute observer who was there.  Second, you will notice a collection of letters from Cortez to King Charles I (also Holy Roman Emperor Charles V).  They are powerful and informative and reading them allows you direct access to one of the most important actors in the drama of the conquest of the New World.  The edition from Yale University Press is a masterpiece with a brilliant introduction.  It is worth owning the book even if you have time to read only the introduction and one letter.  There are five long letters in the collection.  The levy and Thomas books are both excellent histories of the conquest.


Bernal Diaz
The Conquest of New Spain


Hernán Cortés
Letters from Mexico

Buddy Levy
Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs

Hugh Thomas
Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico