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The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
 
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Join date : 2009-05-11
Location : Central Oklahoma

PostSubject: Introduction   Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:34 pm

Broken spears lay in the road, temples, and palaces; the great market, schools, and houses were in ruins; rulers, priests, sages, warriors, the youth, and the gods themselves were lost or dead. The bad omens that Motecuhzoma and others contemplated had been fulfilled: The Aztec nation appeared crushed to the ground. But was everything truly lost? The testimonies included here demonstrate the extent to which some surviving native priests and sages managed to rescue images of the tragedy that had taken place and the heroism that had sustained their people. In their annals, those with detailed pictures and glyphs and those employing the letters, newly adapted by the friars to, represent the sounds of their language, they recalled the ominous events, the appearance of the unexpected invaders, the acts of bravery, the devastation.

With the passing of time, while most of the ancient sacred books had been reduced to ashes, the elders and their sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons kept producing numerous manuscripts that told of their daily and difficult coexistence with the men of Castile. Documents of many different genres were composed reflecting life in these new circumstances, including many petitions asking for justice, several chronicles made up of compilations of oral traditions, numerous songs, poems, and theatrical pieces to be acted and sung, as well as translations or reworked versions of works originally in Spanish or Latin. All of these form part of an unexpectedly rich literature, which at times mixes the indigenous traditions with the content and style of what was introduced by the Europeans. As could be expected, a recurrent theme at the time, which continues to be addressed today in some works produced by contemporary Nahuas, was the tale of daily suffering and incessant confrontation. In these compositions new images of the Nahuas themselves and of the intruders are offered.

The Nahuatl language, spoken since at least the fourth century by some of the inhabitants of the metropolis of Teotihuacan, has conveyed the Aztec accounts of the Spanish conquest along with many other testimonies about the pre-Columbian, colonial, and contemporary periods. In the manner of a testimonial to the "aftermath" following the decades of conquest, I present in this chapter several particularly eloquent texts originally recorded in Nahuatl during these last two periods, including two composed only a few years ago. Together they draw vivid images of the difficult relations that have always existed between the descendants of the Aztecs and their others"-the colonial Spaniards and contemporary Mexicans.
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