I’ve had this book for ages, but after reading the Daily Life of the Aztecs I was finally in the mood to read this one. I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot. I wouldn’t recommend it as the first book you read about Aztecs as it doesn’t explain anything just offers a translation of the work. It is also intended for the general reader, rather than the historian/scholar so doesn’t offer all that much in the way of notes or textual critique but nether the less is very interesting.
The texts themselves are quite interesting. They tended to be written about 30 years or more after the conquest and so the information comes through quite a filter. It is interesting to see the Aztec’s fear of the Spanish before they’ve even met, how in some accounts they can speak each others languages from the start, and from the accounts of the people who converted to Christianity the judgemental attitude towards their own culture. The attacks of the Spanish are quite brutal and horrific. Even in the rather simplistic translations they can be hard to read.
The accounts are divided up into three parts, there is the basic narrative where different accounts are combined into a longer chronological account of the arrival and war with the Spanish. Then there is a shorter, but more authentic sounding, account that relates the events more concisely, and with what appears to be a less biased view. It was written much closer to the events than the first part. (Only 7 or 8 years afterwards). The book also contains poems and songs about the invasion as well as illustrations that have been taken from the codices.
The book was written quite awhile ago and I would be interested to see if longer and more detailed accounts have been translated and studied. But this was an excellent starting point....Continua