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The Conquest of New Spain (Penguin Classics) (1568)

by Bernal Díaz del Castillo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 39 mentions

English (8)  Spanish (4)  All (12)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
An absolutely amazing first-person account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish. A must read for anyone interested in the subject. ( )
  dwhill | Apr 23, 2013 |
Sometimes extraordinary events are fortuitously recorded by a well placed participant. In this case, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, describes the 16th century Spanish discovery and defeat of the Mexican empire in an account that is so compelling that it is difficult to put down.
The basic facts are not disputed, and reveal the extraordinary military valour of Cortez and most of his men. He gives weight to existing tribal conflicts, the role of religious beliefs and also illustrates Cortez's manipulative cunning and great love of love of gold, even going as far as cheating his own men. ( )
1 vote Miro | Nov 6, 2010 |
Intriguing novel (although it shouldn't be considered fiction), by one of Hernan Cortés' soldiers who tells the tale of the conquest of New-Spain (read: Mexico). If gives an image of the lifes of those conquistadores, and the quest for glory (and gold) by the soldiers and their superiors. Although the outcome is quite clear from the beginning it is a good read (albeit with a lot of repetitions in the text). That outcome is achieved partly because the Mexicans believed a people would come from where the sun rises and they would later rule them, but also because of the military strength of the Spaniards. It also shows the minds of those early conquistadores, they really thought what they did was good, they didn't think about the consequences... Enslaving indians, no problem, forcing catholicism upon them, no problem... ( )
  kabouter | Aug 20, 2010 |
One of the most riveting narratives in all of history. ( )
  ben_a | Jun 21, 2010 |
The most intense and exciting historical account I have ever read, and from a perspective I find unusual. As modern postcolonialists, we all look back on conquistadors with scorn and horror. But to get the point of view of a proud conquistador, a man who's actually really good about characterizing the mindset of the time, it unbelievably fascinating. Diaz writes in a perfectly ordinary and down-to-earth tone about killing hundreds, toppling governments, plotting secretly, smashing gods, and doing all sorts of absolutely wild and outrageous things. He writes about some things with regret, but about more things with a very satisfied tone, a back-in-those-days-you-would-never-have-guessed-how-magnificent-we-were tone. There's resentment and hatred for Cortes, but also unquestioning loyalty and admiration. There's an unusual attitude towards Montezuma-- the man they kept in a degrading state of imprisonment but respected like an uncle. There's an apocalyptic air about the whole affair: you can feel the sliminess-on-the-skin Diaz felt about watching this whole society crumble around him. And it's an action story, too: battles every other page, sacrifices, magnificent victories, harrowing losses, camaraderie, a Mayan princess, heaps of gold, marvellous characterizations of conquistadors and Aztec lords alike (you'll notice, though, as in Aztec society in general, the commoners are invisible), epic showdowns, legends, the whole thing. Everything seems so incredibly alive. But it's not just blind pride, either: Diaz has a complex relationship to his past that you get the sense he's trying to partially hide. He is very guilty about enslaving certain of the natives and he does seem to really admire the achievements of Aztec civilization, and is sad that they can no longer even be seen-- the temples are burned, the books destroyed, people like Montezuma reduced to puppets.

Anyway, if you like history AT ALL, please read this. It's an essential source when it comes to understanding the subjugation of native Mexico. It's also a damn good story. Read it in tandem with Broken Spears to get both sides of the story, native and Spanish. ( )
  lmichet | Aug 14, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernal Díaz del Castilloprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cohen, John MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
García, GenaroEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Idell, AlbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maudslay, A. P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Narciß, Georg A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, HughIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, citizen and governor of the most loyal city of Santiago de Guatemala, one of the first discoverers and conquerors of New Spain and its provinces, and of the Cape of Honduras and Higueras, native of the most noble and famous city of Medina del Campo, and son of its former governor Francisco Díaz del Castillo, known as the Courteous - and his legal wife Maria Diez Rejon - may their souls rest in glory! - tell you the story of myself and my comrades; all true conquerors, who served His Majesty in the discovery, conquest, pacification, and the settlement of new Spain; one of the finest regions of the New World yet discovered, this expedition being undertaken by our own efforts, and without his Majesty's knowledge.

Penguin Classics translation by J. M. Cohen, 1963.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo, the last survivor of the Conquerors of Mexico, died on his estates in Guatamala at the age of eighty-nine, as poor as he had lived.

Penguin Classics introduction by J. M. Cohen, 1963.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140441239, Paperback)

Vivid, powerful and absorbing, this is a first-person account of one of the most startling military episodes in history: the overthrow of Montezuma's doomed Aztec Empire by the ruthless Hernan Cortes and his band of adventurers. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, himself a soldier under Cortes, presents a fascinatingly detailed description of the Spanish landing in Mexico in 1520 and their amazement at the city, the exploitation of the natives for gold and other treasures, the expulsion and flight of the Spaniards, their regrouping and eventual capture of the Aztec capital.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:25 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A follower of Hernando Cortez describes how a small group of Spaniards was able to defeat the mighty Aztecs and lay claim to their territory and treasures for Spain.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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