Invasion and Transformation
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico
Publication Year: 2008
Invasion and Transformation examines the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and transformations in political, social, cultural, and religious life in Mexico during the Conquest and the ensuing colonial period. In particular, contributors consider the ways in which the Conquest itself was remembered, both in its immediate aftermath and in later centuries. Was Moteuczoma really as weak as history portrayed him? As Susan D. Gillespie instead suggests in "Blaming Moteuczoma," the representation of Moteuczoma as a scapegoat for the Aztec defeat can be understood as a product of indigenous resistance and accommodation following the imposition of Spanish colonialism. Chapters address the various roles (real and imagined) of Moteuczoma, Cortés, and Malinche in the fall of the Aztecs; the representation of history in colonial art; and the complex cultural transformations that actually took place. Including full-color reproductions of seventeenth-century paintings of the Conquest, Invasion and Transformation will appeal to scholars and students of Latin American history and anthropology, art history, colonial literature, and transatlantic studies.
Published by: University Press of Colorado
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List of Illustrations
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This volume of essays has its origin in an international symposium, “Invasion and Transformation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Images of the Conquest of Mexico,” which took place in 2003 at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. The symposium was held in conjunction with an exhibition, Visions of Empire: Picturing the Conquest in Colonial Mexico, at the university’s Lowe Art Museum. An exceptional series of seventeenth-century paintings...
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In the fall of 2001, the Jay I. Kislak Foundation invited a small group of scholars to view a series of eight seventeenth-century paintings depicting events from the Conquest of Mexico.1 As the paintings were removed from their crates, they revealed a vivid and highly detailed visual history of the Conquest distilled into eight key moments, including the meeting of...
Part I: Remembering the Legends: Moteuczoma, Cort�s, and Malinche
1. Meeting the Enemy:Moteuczoma and Cort�s, Herod and the Magi
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Colonial Nahuas used their forms of expressive culture—plays, rituals, art, historiography, and others—to encode responses to the Spanish Conquest and its aftermath. These symbolic responses were often subtle and veiled, as Spanish cultural artifacts were recast into native forms that bore secondary levels of meaning in addition to the overt, surface meanings continuous with their European sources. Taking as a point of departure the
2. Blaming Moteuczoma: Anthropomorphizing the Aztec Conquest
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The Aztec Conquest has long been depicted as a struggle between two towering historical figures—Cortés and Moteuczoma. The “noble, valiant Cortés” was contrasted with a “timorous, cowardly” Moteuczoma in the earliest Hispanic narratives of the Conquest written only a few decades after the 1521 fall of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan (Clendinnen 1991:65; e.g., see López de Gómara 1964:179). William Prescott’s...
3. The Hero as Rhetor: Hernán Cortés’s Second and Third Letters to Charles V
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Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) is one of the most legendary and controversial figures in the annals of early modern European and American colonial history. His inconceivable Conquest of Mexico with a few hundred Spanish soldiers and thousands of indigenous allies became a paradigm of heroism, ingenuity, and atrocity within his own lifetime.1
4. Now You See Her, Now You Don’t: Memory and the Politics of Identity Construction in Representations of Malinche
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Malinche stands out as one of the most enigmatic figures of the Conquest of Mexico.1 Eyewitness accounts of her are rare, despite her central position as Cortés’s translator and, later, as his consort. She has been the subject of hundreds of books and articles, which explore not only her central role in the success of the Conquest of Mexico but her very character. Over the centuries...
Part II. The Transformation of History: Painting the Conquest of Mexico
5. Spanish Creation of the Conquest of Mexico
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The eight Conquest of Mexico paintings in the Kislak Collection contain a number of themes that were central to the way Spaniards in seventeenth-century Mexico viewed the Conquest. The paintings also reflect a number of larger cultural phenomena. Many of these are discussed elsewhere in this volume, but two are worth mentioning as significant backdrops to this...
6. The Conquest of Mexico and the Representation of Imperial Power in Baroque New Spain
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Late-seventeenth-century New Spain was the setting for the production and circulation of a large number of paintings on screens, panels, and canvas depicting episodes from the Conquest of Mexico, with eleven distinct sets still in existence today. Art historians have seen the emergence of this Conquest imagery as evidence of a rising spirit of political autonomy and identity among Creoles, ...
7. Painting a New Era: Conquest, Prophecy, and the World to Come
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The Conquest of Mexico, the encounter and confrontation of two civilizations, and the beginning of a New World were events of momentous historical importance. 1 Beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing to the present, Western accounts have tended to create what Matthew Restall has called “a mythic narrative of Conquest” (Restall 2003:18, Chapter 5, this volume). According to this narrative, elements and events are set up so that they...
Part III. Effects of Invasion: Death and Conquest
8: Indian Autopsy and Epidemic Disease in Early Colonial Mexico
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Epidemic diseases introduced during the Spanish Conquest and colonization of Mexico and the Americas have long been acknowledged as key features that helped shape European expansion into the Americas (see Ch�vez Balderas, Chapter 9, this volume).1 One of the most devastating and enigmatic of these diseases was cocoliztli. Beginning in 1575, a cocoliztli epidemic swept through Mexico City...
9. Death during the Conquest Era
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The way the dead are buried reflects their social condition and identity. Funeral rites can proclaim the manner of a person’s death, the social level he or she occupied, and society’s ideas about the afterlife. Although ancient Mesoamerica was characterized by an enormous variety of funeral patterns, a great deal of what is known is based on Spanish chroniclers’ accounts, which tend to focus on the Mexica—also known as the Nahua or Aztecs—whose empire flourished...
Part IV: Conquest of Mexico Paintings, the Kislak Collection, Library of Congress
10: The Kislak Paintings and the Conquest of Mexico
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Events from the Conquest of Mexico were not unusual subjects for works of art produced in colonial Mexico in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, despite the fact that the majority of visual production was given over to religious representation.1 Drawing on published histories, such as...
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 8 color photos, 1 b/w photo, 29 line drawings
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Mesoamerican Worlds Series
Series Editor Byline: DavÃd Carrasco, Harvard University, and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, El Colegio Nacional, Mexico, Series General Editors