SPANG021 - The Conquest of Mexico

Value: 15 credits
Tutors: Alexander Samson, Elizabeth Baquedano
Teaching structure:
one 4,000 word essay.

Module Description:

This module explores the archaeology and history of the Conquest of Mexico, between 1519-1521. It tells the story of this momentous event from both sides – the victorious Spanish conquistadors and their Catholic priests, and the defeated Aztecs and their contemporaries - preserved by native Mexican historians such as Fernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, and Chimalpahin. Indigenous accounts of the conquest and of pre-conquest religious, political and economic life were recorded in native books called codices, some of which were pre-Hispanic, others post-conquest in date. Archaeology too has its place in this multidisciplinary investigation, because its focus on material culture can evaluate the written record, and thus provide a more balanced view of these events. This module builds on the insights gained in the ‘Text and Image’ module, but both may be taken as separate units.

Preparatory Reading and Set Texts:

  • Brotherston, Gordon, Painted Books from Mexico. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1995.
  • Brotherston, Gordon, Feather Crown: The Eighteen Feasts of the Mexica Year. London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 2005.
  • Berdan, Frances F., and Patricia Rieff Anawalt (editors) The Codex Mendoza. 4 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
  • Cortés, Hernán, Letters from Mexico. Translated and edited by Anthony Pagden. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.
  • León Portilla, Miguel,The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966.
  • Sahagún, Bernardino de,  Florentine Codex, General History of the Things of New Spain. Translated by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles Dibble. 12 books, Book 12. Santa Fe: The School of American Research; Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1950-78.
  • Thomas, Hugh, The Conquest of Mexico. London: Hutchinson, 1993.