Review: The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico by Miguel León-Portilla

The Broken Spears [1959/97] – ★★★★

The Aztecs…thought the strangers were Quetzalcoatl, and other gods returning from over the sea, while the Spaniards, despite their amazement at the splendours of Tenochtitlan, considered the Aztecs barbarians and thought only of seizing their riches and of forcing them to become Christians and Spanish subjects” (León-Portilla/Kemp, Beacon Press, 1959/97: xxxiii).

On 22 April 1519, Spaniard Don Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico, and on 13 August 1521, the Aztecs, one of the greatest civilisations of South America, fell. The Aztecs, a nation possessing an intricate culture and complex political organisation, were destroyed and plundered beyond all recognition. In this book, Mexican anthropologist Miguel León-Portilla aims to show the invasion of Mexico by the Spaniards in 1519 from the point of view of the native Aztecs. The non-fiction, translated from the Spanish by Lysander Kemp, compiles a number of first-hand account writings from indigenous people, giving the voice to the victims of this unprecedented encounter between two very distinct military powers and cultures.

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