Mesoamerican Culture, History, and Religion

The Anonymous Conqueror’s Narrative

Funny how things tend to come in clusters. One day I find the full text of Soustelle’s The Daily Life of the Aztecs, today I find a complete English translation of the Anonymous Conqueror’s Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan, México. (In case you’re wondering, Temestitan is an old Spanish corruption of Tenochtitlan.)

This is one of the more obscure Conquest-era histories, allegedly written by one of the Conquistadores under Cortes. We’ve never definitively identified who the author was, but the book seems to be generally accepted as a genuinely early document. The book is an account of the Conquest itself and a concise overview of life in Tenochtitlan at the time, from a recently-arrived European perspective. As usual, such works have to be read carefully, with an awareness of problems of reliability, bias, and cultural misunderstandings/ignorance. With those caveats aside, however, early material like this can still be quite useful.

Go HERE to read Marshall H. Saville’s 1917 English translation of the Anonymous Conqueror’s Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan, México, edited by Alec Christensen and kindly hosted on FAMSI.

I have also updated the First Contact & Conquest Era History page on this site with a permanent link to this work.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go crash before I face-plant on my keyboard, as I’ve been awake for almost 24 hours straight now, 13 of which were spent at work… Just had to share this random discovery before catching some sleep.

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4 responses

  1. Xuchilpaba

    Thank you! Now I have some reading to do…

    my fave real story about the Spaniards was this old man who was a conquistador at the time of the Spanish conquest that Duran writes about. This man had come to believe the conquest to be sinful and wrong. So it appears not everyone agreed.

    October 12, 2008 at 11:28 PM

  2. cehualli

    You’re welcome! 🙂

    Interesting story, you’re reminding me why I need to move Duran’s books up my list of Things To Acquire… Thanks for sharing that one. Which of the three volumes is it in, by the way?

    October 15, 2008 at 3:44 AM

  3. Xuchilpaba

    I only have gods and rites. There’s more?!

    October 16, 2008 at 11:27 PM

  4. cehualli

    1 more volume, actually. It’s the history volume, “The History of the Indies of New Spain.” There’s an English translation by Doris Heyden of that volume as well as Gods and Rites.

    October 21, 2008 at 1:36 AM

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