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When Montezuma Met Cortés : The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History
by Matthew Restall


Overview -

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortes that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan.  Read more...


 
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More About When Montezuma Met Cortés by Matthew Restall
 
 
 
Overview

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortes that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction--the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas--has long been the symbol of Cortes's bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.

But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortes uses "the Meeting"--as Restall dubs their first encounter--as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortes and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortes's and Montezuma's posthumous reputations, their achievements and failures, and the worlds in which they lived--leading, step by step, to a dramatic inversion of the old story. As Restall takes us through this sweeping, revisionist account of a pivotal moment in modern civilization, he calls into question our view of the history of the Americas, and, indeed, of history itself.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062427267
  • ISBN-10: 0062427261
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: January 2018
  • Page Count: 560
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > Expeditions & Discoveries
Books > History > Latin America - Mexico
Books > History > Native American

 
BookPage Reviews

The conquest, revised

In the traditional story of the conquest of Mexico, as told by the conquistadors themselves, the brilliant strategist Hernando Cortés and a small, valiant band of Spanish conquistadors marched into the capital of the Aztec empire, Tenochtitlan (where Mexico City now stands), on November 8, 1519. They were met by a weak and fearful Montezuma, who almost immediately surrendered his empire to the Spaniards. Montezuma was later stoned to death by his own people, and a war broke out in which the Spaniards were soon victorious. That a small band of conquistadors could defeat a massive army of Mesoamerican warriors proved the superiority of Western culture. For the next 500 years, the epic tale was embellished, streamlined and repeated so often that it assumed the aura of truth.

In his brilliant deep dive into the history and scholarship about this famous episode, Matthew Restall contests almost every assertion in the traditional account of the conquest of the Aztec empire. Restall is emphatic and witty in his argument that Montezuma did not surrender; the assumption that he did was the result of ignorance about the subtleties of the native language. Restall credibly argues that as the shrewd leader of a very advanced civilization, Montezuma was neither weak nor fearful. Nor was Cortés particularly brilliant, as his earlier career shows, and he was less in control of his comrades than he claimed. The conquistadors also benefited immensely from internal rivalries among the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans, and the catastrophic spread of disease.

Through diligent research, Restall presents readers with a fascinating view of Montezuma, mounting a convincing argument that Cortés’ self-serving accounts and the traditional narrative are almost surely false.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
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