World CivilizationsResearch


The Mind of the Conqueror
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Spain and the New World
Conquest of Mexico Back to Help

Cortés' Second Letter to the Emporer
This letter, one of five to the Emporer, details his experiences in Mexico - a very lengthy and fairly detailed letter.

The war of conquest : how it was waged here in Mexico
Sahagún, Bernardino de, d. 1590., Florentine Codex, Book 12. An account of Cortés conquest of Mexico. Fascinating, from the viewpoint of an Aztec. Read about the emmisaries who offered the Spanish soldiers food soaked in blood, as befitted a god. Learn about the disunity in Montezuma's empire-this document describes battles with enemy peoples as well as the Spanish. Very detailed. Lots of blood sacrifice, too.

Other Primary Sources

Spanish Conquest of Cuba
Bartolome De Las Casas was a friar who objected to the Spanish encomienda system and the abuse of the native populations. Excerpt.

Letter to the King of Spain
Lope de Aguirre, a notorious figure in early colonial history, spends years flouting Spanish orders, and executing government officials, then sends a long letter to the King of Spain detailing his actions and justifying them. Some great quotes here, such as "We in this land give your promises less credence than the books of Martin Luther." This missive takes the king to task for mistreating his vassals, allowing corruption in the administration of the colonies, and especially for the excesses of the clergy. It is a long letter, and gives good specific examples of the writer's complaints. He concludes his letter "...sons of your loyal Basque vassals, and I, rebel until death against you for your ingratitude."

Relaciones Geográficas
This online exhibit at the University of Texas features a survey-type form prepared by the Spanish government, and eleven maps from the early 1500s.

Huejotzingo Codex
The people of Huejotzingo prepared this Codex as a legal document, presented as testimony in a case against the Spanish crown. Click here to go directly to the image

Recopilation of the Laws of the Indies
This site is Spanish only, but has great collection. This particular set of documents includes the laws established by Spanish monarchs to govern the new world. Great site. Another page on the same site has links to laws up into the 1990s.

36 Florentine Codex
Images of birth and ritual.

A Nahua testament and a Nahua Land Grant.
From James Lockhart's Nahuas and Spaniards. Postconquest Central Mexican History and Philology Includes explanatory materials by Lockhart and primary source excerpts.

Castaways. The Narrative of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
This man was a member of a Spanish expedition organized to conquer Florida. He is shipwrecked, and is one of the few to survive hostile native attacks, cannibalism, and slavery.

Background Information Back to Help

Chronology of Voyages of Exploration
Covers voyages from 1486 to 1522. This is a text only file, but might make a handy printout to help you keep track of who was where, when.

Europe
A bit of background information for each european area, with maps and images. This site is maintained by a role-playing organization in New England. Nice background information for European countries in the late 1500s.

British Museum
This site provides wonderful background information for your study.

Toltec-Aztec Culture
From John Crow's The Epic of Latin America. Very nice, lengthy excerpt. Alvarado
Another excerpt from John Crow's The Epic of Latin America.. He includes many quotes from primary sources, and tells the fascinating "after story" of one of Cortés' lieutenants.

Indigenous Culture--Background and Artifacts

University of Guadalajara
Very nice introduction to many aspects of Aztec culture - including commentary on social, artisitic and religious practices.

WebMuseum of LatinAmerica
Learn about the culture, the lifestyle of indigenous Americans. Again, images and artifacts are in some cases the only surviving records of pre-Columbian culture.

Other Conquerors and Colonists
Columbus' Description of Landing in the Americas
Excerpt from his journal. For more excerpts, visit The Medieval Sourcebook.

Columbus letter to the King and Queen of Spain.
Interesting how much of the letter is dedicated to the aquiring, monitoring and disposing of gold. c. 1494.

A Brief and True Report on the Newfound Land of Virginia
1588. Thomas Hariot's account of life in the colonies. Of the natives, opportunities, etc.

John Smith's description of New England, 1614.
Also available is The Proceedings of the English Colony in Virginia, 1612.

Voyages, 1604
Samuel de Champlain reveals the increasing pressure to colonize new areas as he details exploration of what is now Canada. For another excerpt.

1492: On Ongoing Voyage
This is a great overview, very structured. It features pictures from primary source documents and very easy to understand background information.

Age of Discovery
This site presents a very pragmatic overview of the drive for new sea routes, including a discussion of the spice trade.

Pictures
This page has links to images of just about every major explorer from every period. Take a look!

On Cannibals
Michael de Montaigne criticizes his own society by idealizing the "barbarian", a well-used technique. His comments on the treatment of the Indian are very interesting. He disparages English methods, while championing the inevitability of the "fitter" race overtaking the native populations and controlling the land.

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World Civilizations
RESEARCH: Ralph'sWorld Civilizations
http://www.wwnorton.com/colleges/history/ralph/research/conqlist.htm
Page created by Thomas Pearcy, Ph.D and Mary Dickson.
We welcome your comments. Please contact Steve Hoge, Editor.
Last revised July 12, 1997
Copyright (c) 1997. W. W. Norton Publishing. All Rights Reserved