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Terra Incognita: Mexico


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Codex Cospi: Calendario Messicano 4093, Biblioteca Universitaria Bologna. Einleitung und Summary von K. A. Nowotny.
Mit Faksimile Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1968
(Colored facsimile of a manuscript with Mexican hieroglyphics; has an accordion binding)
Facsimile of codex Facsimile of codex
Solis, Antonio De, 1610-1686
The History of the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. Done into English from the Original Spanish of Don Antonio, Secretary and Historiographer to His Catholick Majesty. By Thomas Townsend, Esq.
London: T. Woodward, 1724
Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) temple
Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de, d. 1625
Descripcion de las Indias Ocidentales
Madrid: Nicolas Rodriquez Franco, 1730

Bound with several works which have engraved title pages, including:
Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de, d. 1625
Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas i tierra firme del mar oceano / escrita por Antonio de Herrera, coronista mayor de Su Md. d[e] las Indias y su coronista de Castilla ; en quatro decadas desde el año de 1442 hasta el de [1]531 ..
Madrid : En la imprenta real de Nicolas Rodiquez Franco, 1726-1730

Image of titlepage Engraving from Descripcion de las Indias Ocidentales Descripcion de las Indias Ocidentales

Herman Cortes arrived in the West Indies in 1504, traveled on to Cuba in 1511 and marched into the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) in 1519. There he encountered the highly developed society of the Aztecs. The Spanish were impressed with Tenochtitlan, which they called, "another Venice". The city had been constructed on two islands in the middle of a lake. The Aztecs had designed floating gardens that yielded crops, most of the streets were canals and the city was connected to the mainland with causeways.

Cortes was accompanied with 600 Spaniards, 200 native Cubans, horses, and armed cannons, muskets, and crossbows. He allied himself with the people of Tlaxcala, adversaries of the Aztecs, and resentful of their militaristic domination over the surrounding areas. He was also accompanied by two interpreters, Geronimo de Aguilar, a priest who had been shipwrecked and captured by indigenous people of Yucatan and a woman called variously, Malintzin, Marina of La Malinche.

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, was a deity in the Aztec mythology who had sailed away in ancient times promising to return in a certain year. Montezuma, the Aztec King, had heard reports of sightings and encounters with the Spaniards. He was a ruler who was plagued by nightmares and influenced by omens and began to wonder if the people moving inland were possibly this god or representatives of the god. When Cortes arrived at the capital he was welcomed by Montezuma who said in a speech that was translated by La Malinche, "You have come back to us; you have come down from the sky…Welcome to your land, my lords."

Cortes soon took Montezuma captive and a struggle soon broke out over who would gain control of the city. The Spanish attacked the Aztecs during a religious holiday and killed Montezuma in 1520. After that the Aztec's retaliated by attacking Cortes and his men on a night that became known as "la noche triste". Cortes was forced to lead his troops and allies out of the city. Five hundred of the conquistadors perished and forty were taken prisoner for sacrificial purposes. He recaptured the city in 1521 after a campaign of isolating the city's food and water supply for four months. Cortes' reports of his exploits took the form of five letters addressed to Emperor Charles V.

Cortes, Hernan, 1485-1547
Historia de Nueva-Espana, escrita por su esclarecido conquistador Hernan Cortes, aumentada con otros docvmentos, y notas, por el ilustrissimo Senor Don Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, arzobispo de Mexico. Con las licencias necesarias
Mexico: Impr. del superior gobierno, J. A. de Hogal, 1770

Calender headress