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In the Palace of Nezahualcoyotl

Painting Manuscripts, Writing the Pre-Hispanic Past in Early Colonial Period Tetzcoco, Mexico

By Eduardo de J. Douglas

Publication Year: 2010

Around 1542, descendants of the Aztec rulers of Mexico created accounts of the pre-Hispanic history of the city of Tetzcoco, Mexico, one of the imperial capitals of the Aztec Empire. Painted in iconic script (“picture writing”), the Codex Xolotl, the Quinatzin Map, and the Tlohtzin Map appear to retain and emphasize both pre-Hispanic content and also pre-Hispanic form, despite being produced almost a generation after the Aztecs surrendered to Hernán Cortés in 1521. Yet, as this pioneering study makes plain, the reality is far more complex. Eduardo de J. Douglas offers a detailed critical analysis and historical contextualization of the manuscripts to argue that colonial economic, political, and social concerns affected both the content of the three Tetzcocan pictorial histories and their archaizing pictorial form. As documents composed by indigenous people to assert their standing as legitimate heirs of the Aztec rulers as well as loyal subjects of the Spanish Crown and good Catholics, the Tetzcocan manuscripts qualify as subtle yet shrewd negotiations between indigenous and Spanish systems of signification and between indigenous and Spanish concepts of real property and political rights. By reading the Tetzcocan manuscripts as calculated responses to the changes and challenges posed by Spanish colonization and Christian evangelization, Douglas’s study significantly contributes to and expands upon the scholarship on central Mexican manuscript painting and recent critical investigations of art and political ideology in colonial Latin America.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to Theresa May and her colleagues at the University of Texas Press for their editorial acumen, good cheer, and patience. I had the good fortune to have Kathryn R. Bork as my copy editor, and I thank her for the unerring intelligence and kindness with which she saved me from more errors than I can count. ...

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INTRODUCTION [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 1-16

In 1575, in New Spain, the Spanish colony founded in 1521 in central Mexico after Hernán Cortés defeated the last independent rulers of the Aztec Empire, don Francisco Pimentel knew and defended his rights and privileges.1 As a scion of one of pre-Hispanic Mexico’s most illustrious aristocratic families, the ruling dynasty of Tetzcoco, don Francisco, a full blooded Indian, understood...

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1: Mixed Forms, Mixed Messages: The Codex Xolotl, the Quinatzin Map, and the Tlohtzin Map

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pp. 17-40

The Quinatzin Map, the Tlohtzin Map, and the Codex Xolotl, all today in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, first arrived in Europe in 1840 in the baggage of Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin (1802–1891), a French scientist, at one time (1826–1830) director of the science division of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, who had resided in Mexico from 1830 ...

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2: Cemanahuactli Imachiyo, “The World, Its Model”

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pp. 41-94

In 1966 Howard F. Cline published the Oztoticpac Lands Map,1 a sixteenth-century, indigenous central Mexican property map (Fig. 2.1).2 Originally painted as evidence and testimony in a land-litigation trial, the map catalogues the size and ownership of numerous properties in the vicinity of Tetzcoco. The painter-scribe defines each plot as either transferable ...

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3: Our Kin, Our Blood

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pp. 95-128

With these words, don Carlos Ometochtzin Chichimecatecatl is said to have advocated rebellion against the recently arrived Spaniards.1 The men whom don Carlos here evokes, scions of the Mexica royal dynasty, are his kin. Yoanizi refers to don Diego de Alvarado Huanitzin, a grandson of Axayacatl, the sixth tlahtoani of Tenochtitlan (r. 1469–1481), and a nephew of Motecuhzoma II Xocoyotzin...

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4: Telling Stories

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pp. 129-160

Like all historical writing, the iconic-script histories of pre-Hispanic Mexico written in the Early Colonial Period satisfied economic, political, and social needs—not only for Spanish but also for indigenous patrons.1 In the aftermath of the execution of don Carlos Ometochtzin Chichimecatecatl, and in response to the erosion of indigenous political autonomy...

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pp. 161-192

Around 1453, three years into the Great Famine that scourged the Valley of Mexico, Nezahualcoyotl, the ruler of Tetzcoco, had a palace and gardens built on the sacred hill of Tetzcotzinco.1 According to the Codex Xolotl’s first page/map (Plate 1), the king’s great-great-great-grandfather Nopaltzin had once surveyed the eastern valley from the hill’s summit. ...


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pp. 193-236


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pp. 237-248


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pp. 249-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780292793057
E-ISBN-10: 0292793057
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292721685
Print-ISBN-10: 0292721684

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 53 B&W photos, 1 map, 3 tables, 8 color illus. in 8-page section
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 639994653
MUSE Marc Record: Download for In the Palace of Nezahualcoyotl

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Subject Headings

  • Codex Xolotl.
  • Texcoco de Mora (Mexico) -- History -- Sources.
  • Palaces -- Mexico -- Texcoco de Mora.
  • Texcoco de Mora (Mexico) -- Antiquities.
  • Aztec art -- Mexico -- Texcoco de Mora.
  • Aztecs -- Mexico -- Texcoco de Mora -- History -- Sources.
  • Nezahualcóyotl, King of Texcoco, 1402-1472 -- Homes and haunts -- Mexico -- Texcoco de Mora.
  • Mapa Quinatzin.
  • Mapa Tlohtzin.
  • Manuscripts, Nahuatl -- Mexico -- Texcoco de Mora.
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