When Montezuma Met Cortes by Matthew Restall

When Montezuma Met Cortes

By Matthew Restall

  • Release Date: 2018-01-30
  • Genre: History
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Description

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

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés 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 Cortés’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 Cortés uses “the Meeting”—as Restall dubs their first encounter—as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortés’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. 

Reviews

  • A must read!

    5
    By iactxh
    When Matt Restall writes on this topic, everyone with an interest in the European encounter with the Americas and its indigenous peoples must read what he has to say. He is arguably the most important scholar working in the area. Besides prodigious scholarship, he brings a questioning attitude and a non-standard perspective to the topics he explores. This contribution to the literature of the encounter will quickly be foundational to the field.

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