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Memories of Conquest

Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala

Laura Matthew

Publication Year: 2012

Indigenous allies helped the Spanish gain a foothold in the Americas. What did these Indian conquistadors expect from the partnership, and what were the implications of their involvement in Spain’s New World empire? Laura Matthew's study of Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala--the study first to focus on a single allied colony over the entire colonial period--places the Nahua, Zapotec, and Mixtec conquistadors of Guatemala and their descendants within a deeply Mesoamerican historical context. Drawing on archives, ethnography, and colonial Mesoamerican maps, Matthew argues that the conquest cannot be fully understood without considering how these Indian conquistadors first invaded and then, of their own accord and largely by their own rules, settled in Central America.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Contents/Illustrations

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pp. v-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

To the institutions and people who safeguard the historical records that are the foundation of this book and make it possible for me to use them: Anna Carla Ericastilla Samayoa and the staff at the Archivo General de Centroamérica in Guatemala City, who greet me warmly no matter how...

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Note on Terminology

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pp. xiii-

In Guatemala today the term indígena is preferred to indio, which historically has been used in derogatory ways against the Maya and other indigenous peoples of the region. Because “indigenous” translates awkwardly and the term “Indian” has fewer negative connotations in English, I use...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-11

The conquest of largely Maya territory by foreign invaders in the years 1524–28 is perhaps the most important story of their history for the people of contemporary Guatemala. The invasion followed on the heels of viruses that would kill...

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1. Indigenous Invasions: Mexicans & Maya from Teotihuacan to Tollan

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pp. 13-38

One could logically begin an account of the Mexicanos of Ciudad Vieja with the sixteenth-century invasion of Guatemala. This, in fact, is where the colonial-era Mexicanos often started their own story. But their history belongs not to...

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2. Templates of Conquest: Warfare & Alliance in the Shadow of Tenochtitlan

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pp. 39-69

When Guatemalan Maya lords recorded their histories in the Roman script they learned from Catholic friars, the Nahua-Spanish invasion of 1524 appeared as one confrontation among many others, if it appeared at all. Only two of the dozen or so indigenous-authored histories from colonial Guatemala...

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3. Indian Conquistadors: Conquest & Settlement in Central America

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pp. 70-131

In an essay published in 2007, the Jakaltec Maya anthropologist Victor Montejo criticized how Guatemalan schoolchildren typically learn about the sixteenth century. Guatemalan elementary-school textbooks, he charged, repeat many of the same myths of the Spanish conquest that Matthew Restall has recently pointed out...

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4. The Primacy of Place: Ciudad Vieja as Indian Town & Colonial Altepetl

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pp. 132-177

By the end of the sixteenth century the Nahua and Oaxacan conquistadors living in Ciudad Vieja were locally known as Mexicanos: a unique group on the margins of both Maya and Spanish society. Other Nahua colonies in Xoconusco, Totonicapán...

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5. Creating Memories: Militias, Cofradías, Cabildos, & Compadres

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pp. 178-230

The territorial boundaries of Ciudad Vieja marked off a physical space that was internally complex and predominantly, identifiably Mexicano. But the activities of people living in and through that space, not the space itself, created a community out of the disparate colonists who settled in central Guatemala in the 1520s...

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6. Particularly Ladinos: Language, Ladinization, & Mexicano Identity

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pp. 231-267

In the colonial Mesoamerican world no less than the modern, language potentially marked identity. This was especially true in the valley of Guatemala, where so many Guatemalan Maya were forcibly relocated and so many travelers passed through. Language connected the speaker to a particular region. Facility in more than one...

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Conclusion

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pp. 269-285

Today, the residents of Ciudad Vieja still remember their heritage as Mexicano, Cholulteca, and Tlaxcalteca conquistadors. Outsiders often assume they are indígenas, but they consider themselves Ladinos. How this transition from Indian to Ladino identity happened would take another book to say. The fact...

Bibliography

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pp. 287-308

Index

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pp. 309-318


E-ISBN-13: 9781469601793
E-ISBN-10: 1469601796
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835371
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835374

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Indians of Central America -- Colonization -- Guatemala -- Ciudad Vieja.
  • Indians of Central America -- Guatemala -- Ciudad Vieja -- History -- Sources.
  • Indians of Central America -- Guatemala -- Ciudad Vieja -- Government relations.
  • Spain -- Colonies -- America -- Administration
  • Ciudad Vieja (Guatemala) -- History -- Sources.
  • Ciudad Vieja (Guatemala) -- Colonization.
  • Guatemala -- Foreign relations -- Spain.
  • Spain -- Foreign relations -- Guatemala.
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