Cortes: The Great Adventurer and the Fate of Aztec Mexico

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9780679406099: Cortes: The Great Adventurer and the Fate of Aztec Mexico
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Adding to the debate over the legacy of the European conquest of the Americas, a thorough portrait of Herna+a7n Corte+a7s, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, portrays a unique point in history, where independently evolved cultures collided. 12,500 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A marvelously engrossing biography of Hern n Cort‚s (1485- 1547) that brings the intrepid conquistador and his exploits to vivid life. Drawing chiefly on narratives left by contemporary annalists and church scholars, Marks (Three Men of the Beagle, 1991) offers an essentially favorable portrait of the well-born soldier of fortune who in 1504 left Spain for the West Indies. Having participated in Hispaniola's subjugation of Cuba, Cort‚s was chosen to lead a trading mission to Mexico. In the wake of his 1519 arrival, he founded Vera Cruz, burned the expedition's ships to prevent desertions, and, in search of gold and glory (and with hordes of indigenous allies disaffected by Aztec rule following him), marched on Montezuma's mountain city of Tenochtitl n. Cort‚s gained both riches and fame, defeating in mid-1521--after a three- month siege that cost both sides dearly--the valiant residents of what's now Mexico City. The captain then extended his triumph, eventually claiming most of northern Central America for the Spanish crown, but, while Carlos V made him a marquis, Cort‚s was denied the governorship of Mexico. The conquistador died at age 62 in his homeland, neglected by a court preoccupied with European concerns. In retelling the dramatic story of a conquering hero whom history hasn't treated altogether kindly, Marks focuses on the probity, military acumen, and piety displayed by his subject in campaigns against foes ranging from native tribes to fellow Spaniards. The author argues that, while Cort‚s couldn't sympathize with Mesoamerica's Indians (who engaged in cannibalism and human sacrifice), he empathized with them to the extent that many fought in his cause. Nor does Marks fail to note that, although Cort‚s is buried in the hospital he built in 1524 in Mexico's future capital city, there's no public monument to his memory anywhere in that country. A rousing but thoughtful account of an Old World warrior in conflict with ancient civilizations whose virtues, shortcomings, and cruelties were substantively different from those of his own culture. (Twenty photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Hernan Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, was a puny, sickly baby and a dropout law student who, in Marks's vivid biography, enjoyed a long, carousing youth that lasted into his 30s. As captain of Spain's expeditionary force to subjugate the Aztec empire, this gadabout transformed himself into a resolute, ambitious adventurer. Tapping firsthand accounts by Indians and Spaniards as well as historical chronicles, Marks ( Three Men of the Beagle ) disputes the conventional notion that Aztec emperor Montezuma was terrified by a prophecy that his rule was coming to an end--a view promulgated by accommodating Aztec priests who testified to Franciscans after the conquest. It's more likely, claims Marks, that Montezuma saw himself in a trial partnership with Cortes and his men and was happy to regard them as descendants of Quetzalcoatl, the bearded white god and quasi-historical Toltec chief. Instead of the image of Cortes as a ruthless, bloodthirsty conqueror, Marks portrays a stubborn man who tried to succeed by guile rather than by armed combat, and who, by imposing Catholic ritual and Spanish law, ushered in 300 years of stability and peace in Mexico. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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