American Literary History 5, no. He ended by comparing their achievements to those of the ancient Romans, "in phrases of honeyed eloquence far beyond any thing I can repeat," says the brave and simple-hearted chronicler who heard them [Bernal Diaz]. Its orientalist stereotypes might suggest that Prescott saw this as a struggle between white Protestant Europeans and various ranks of lesser peoples. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates. Boston: American Stationers Company, 1837. Cortés was, indeed, master of that eloquence which went to the soldiers' hearts. Early Globalization Reader. History of the Conquest of Mexico. See alsoHistory; Orientalism; Romanticism. But the Spaniards' victory "established the superiority of science and discipline over mere physical courage and numbers" (1:447). Since then, his sweeping account of Cortés's subjugation of the Aztec people has endured as a landmark work of scholarship and dramatic storytelling. As they passed along the lanes and alleys which opened into the great street, or looked down the canals, whose polished surface gleamed with a sort of ebon luster through the obscurity of night, they easily fancied that they discerned the shadowy forms of their foe lurking in ambush, and ready to spring on them. . Boston's mercantile connections with Latin America encouraged Prescott and his peers to view this region as an independent partner in trade rather than a potential new area for U.S. colonization. LibriVox recording of History of the Conquest of Mexico, by William H. Prescott. The American Epic: Transforming a Genre, 1770–1860. On religion, "[The Aztecs] invested their deities with attributes, savoring much more of the grotesque conceptions of the eastern nations in the Old World, than of the lighter fictions of Greek mythology" (1:56). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Ringe, Donald A. One Minute History - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQNIJBgSm5lg0mGTGn19EIQ The night was cloudy, and a drizzling rain, which fell without intermission, added to the obscurity. Prescott's account of Cortés's later career challenges another Romantic convention, the concept of the Representative Man. Instead, Prescott's account of Cortés's later years complicates this image. Prescott presents the conquest of Mexico between 1519 and 1521 as a drama in five acts, or books: "The subversion of a great empire by a handful of adventurers, taken with all its strange and picturesque accompaniments, has the air of romance rather than of sober history." 2 (1993): 231–249. . Cortés leads a rigorous but inconclusive expedition to Honduras and. The True History of the Conquest of Mexico), insisting that, as actor and eyewitness, he was better situated to record the truth of the expeditions…, …de la Nueva España (1632; The True History of the Conquest of Mexico) is a monumental volume written by a man who claimed to have little formal education, which may explain the book’s particular immediacy and charm. Prescott describes the rise of Aztec religious practices, including human sacrifice and cannibalism, as recent innovations on earlier Olmec and Toltec civilizations. History was crucial to American attempts at self-definition, as members of the revolutionary generation and their antebellum descendants themselves r…, Polk, James K. Steadily, and as noiselessly as possible, the Spaniards held their way along the great street of Tlacopan, which so lately had resounded to the tumult of battle. On luxury, "The Spaniards might well have fancied themselves in the voluptuous precincts of an Eastern harem, instead of treading the halls of a wild barbaric chief in the Western World" (2:86). The Conquest of Mexico can be read as an object lesson in the dangers of military adventurism—admonitory rather than celebratory American history. About History of the Conquest of Mexico “It is a magnificent epic,” said William H. Prescott after the publication of History of the Conquest of Mexico in 1843. If Prescott believed that the United States was a superior embodiment of progressive virtues, his provincial chauvinism ran still deeper, for he saw New England as the superior part of the United States. But the distinctions Prescott makes among races and nations are never absolute. The Spanish Conquest The Aztec empire reached its height in the early 16th century, under Emperor Moctezuma. William Hickling Prescott: A Biography. . Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Encyclopedia.com. The President took a different view. (3:222–223). For Prescott, Aztec soldiers were a force of nature, powerful through their sheer numbers, animal strength, and physical courage. Unlike Montezuma, who was marked by passivity and indecision—"an effeminacy, unknown to his martial predecessors," similar to "Alexander, after he was infected by the manners of the Persians" (2:130, 131 n)—Guatemozin is a "fierce young monarch" with a "haughty spirit" (3:191–193). "Reading the Romantic Past: William H. Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico." James K. Polk Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Levin, David. As developed by Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Representative Man was the natural outgrowth of Herder's Romantic nationalism: a heroic figure who embodies the qualities of a people. The Inquisition, on the other hand, branded its victims with infamy in this world, and consigned them to everlasting perdition in the next" (1:84). The foremost Nahuatl conquest account is Book Twelve of the Florentine Codex. His exactions, demanded by the profuse expenditure of his palace, scattered broad-cast the seeds of discontent; and, while the empire seemed towering in its most palmy and prosperous state, the canker had eaten deepest into its heart. "Bancroft's United States." Egypt is the most common point of comparison, but others abound, as a few examples will demonstrate. American History Through Literature 1820-1870. The history of Mexico before the Spanish conquest is known through the work of archaeologists, epigraphers, and ethnohistorians (students of indigenous histories, usually from indigenous points of view), who analyze Mesoamerican indigenous manuscripts, particularly Aztec codices, Mayan codices, and Mixtec codices. In 1519 Cortés led about 450 men to Mexico and made his way from Veracruz on the Gulf Coast to the island city of Tenochtitlan, the stunningly beautiful Aztec capital situated in Lake Texcoco. American History Through Literature 1820-1870. . https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/history-conquest-mexico, "History of the Conquest of Mexico The dismemberment of the Tezcucan kingdom, on the death of the great Nezahualpilli, had left the Aztec monarchy without a rival; and it soon spread its colossal arms over the furthest limits of Anahuac. Prescott, William Hickling. to breathe . The Spaniards attacked and conquered the city. But it was only fancy; and the city slept undisturbed even by the prolonged echoes of the tramp of the horses, and hoarse rumbling of the artillery and baggage trains. "History of the Conquest of Mexico BIBLIOGRAPHY (October 16, 2020). . Because Prescott deals with his narrative in dramatic terms and with an abundance of background material, particularly on the Aztec civilization, his HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO … The last two excerpts offer examples of Prescott's Romanticism—especially the latter, in which his use of settings and conventions of dramatic fiction writing are most obvious. It would be more accurate to think of Prescott as a Boston Federalist striving to come to terms with his city's place in the nation's conflicts. BERNAL DÍAZ From The True History of the Conquest of New Spain. Although reputedly blind and having never traveled to the Americas, Prescott's seminal account of the conquest of the Aztecs is as highly respected by historians today as it was in the 19th century. As the son of a wealthy lawyer and delegate to the Hartford Convention that contemplated New England's secession from the United States in 1814, Prescott grew up in a tradition that did not assume that the United States fulfilled a providential design for human progress. Summary Acting on information from the seafarers Córdoba and Grijalva, Cortes organized an expedition, which left Santiago de Cuba in February 18 th, 1519. Framing these comparisons is Prescott's conviction that there is a "wide difference" in the "inventive power" among nations: "Some nations seem to have no power beyond that of imitation," and the dividing line runs between East and West. . Prescott on the Noche Triste (Melancholy Night), 1 July 1520. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico includes a foreword, an introduction, and 15 chapters. Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Before marching, the general spoke a few words of encouragement to his own men. This has been corrected as of July 9, 2010. 294–305. . "Our fortunes, for better or worse, are cast with yours." He affected a reserve unknown to his predecessors; withdrew his person from the vulgar eye, and fenced himself round with an elaborate and courtly etiquette. Beneath the terms "Romantic" and "American" lie a complex range of meanings. New England Quarterly 56, no. Embedded in these comparisons are standard Orientalist oppositions: Christian versus infidel, civility versus barbarism, science versus superstition, representative government versus despotism, masculine vigor versus feminine passivity, and an underlying racial distinction between white Europeans and colored Asiatics. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Not that Prescott avoided the conventions of Romantic fiction—he was fond of portraying dramatic action against spectacular backdrops—but he always required documentary evidence to substantiate his scenic displays. That was also the time that Spanish adventurers were swarming by the hundreds to the West Indies, following the discovery of the Americas in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. He recommended a vigorous prosecution of the war—not for conquest: that was disavowed—but for the purpose of conquering peace; that is, to compel Mexico to sign a treaty making a sufficient cession of territory to indemnify this Government both for the claims of its citizens and for the expenses of the war. "Indeed, the history of the Conquest . History as Romantic Art: Bancroft, Prescott,Motley, and Parkman. (3:355). This photograph testifies to the catastrophic change that transformed ancient Mexico after 1521. Encyclopedia.com. Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. compelled to bend to the will of one man, . Ernest, John. Its fate may serve as a striking proof, that a government, which does not rest on the sympathies of its subjects, cannot long abide; that human institutions, when not connected with human prosperity and progress, must fall. American History Through Literature 1820-1870. . Within any society—Spain, Mexico, or, for that matter, the United States—Prescott finds varying mixtures of the qualities he associates with progress or decline. William H. Prescott's (1796–1859) History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843) is an often cited (though seldom read) example of the work of Romantic historians in America, a group of distinguished men of letters that includes George Bancroft (1800–1891), John Lothrop Motley (1814–1877), and Francis Parkman (1823–1893). In his account of Aztec civilization, Prescott often makes Orientalist comparisons in order to explain the existence of a complex New World society and rank it on a scale of human development. If the American continent was the stage on which the world's destiny would be played out, the United States was not necessarily the chosen vehicle to carry the designs of providence forward. By Nancy Fitch California State University, Fullerton. "Human sacrifice, however cruel, has nothing in it degrading to its victim. Prescott argues in a lengthy appendix, "Origin of the Mexican Civilization," that the ancient peoples of Mexico must have had their roots in Asia as well (3:371–418). Bernal Díaz del Castillo recounts an amazingly detailed history of the conquest of Mexico. These expeditions were organized by Governor Diego de Velazquez de Cuellar. Retrieved October 16, 2020 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/history-conquest-mexico. However, Prescott does not create a complete binary opposition between Spaniards and Aztecs. The Conquest of Mexico. © 2019 Encyclopedia.com | All rights reserved. "The Function of Landscape in Prescott's The Conquest of Mexico." Prescott's comparison of the Spanish Inquisition with Aztec human sacrifice also advances the image of Spanish despotism. If Cortés is representative, he embodies an almost accidental force that coheres in a peculiar moment rather than a unified people moving toward its Manifest Destiny. receives honors and riches from the Spanish government, but he also becomes victimized by the Byzantine politics of the Spanish court. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. . David M. Pletcher It may rather be said to ennoble him by devoting him to the gods. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. The affected sections were 12, 13, 27, 28, 33, & 34.) When he went abroad, it was in state, on some public occasion, usually to a great temple, to take part in the religious services; and as he passed along, he exacted from his people, as we have seen, the homage of an adulation worthy of an Oriental despot. The answer that emerges throughout Prescott's prose epic is one that pits the West against the East, as the latest in a long sequence of conflicts going back to the ancient Greeks and Persians. Cortés was an obvious candidate for such a role, and Prescott could have chosen to end his tale with his victory over Mexico. He offers a more subtle, if no less pernicious, suggestion that what undermines the success of Cortés is the degree to which Spain itself was orientalized by its former domination under Arab rule and its consequent tendency to embrace despotic forms of government and religion. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. . When Prescott published The Conquest of Mexico in 1843, the Texas question lay at the center of national politics. His use of Romantic ideas about historical development is thus neither monolithic nor simplistic, and he accords Aztec society the same level of complexity with which he had depicted Spain. For Prescott, virtuous actions and the development of wise institutions determine human progress, and these can be found, to some measure, in any society. But to call Prescott an American Romantic historian obscures the contexts and purposes of his bravura rendition of Hernán Cortés's (1485–1547) conquest of Mexico. But Prescott takes care to delineate the internal tensions of Aztec civilization. The Aztec God Quetzalcoatl. . Blinded in one eye by a hard crust of bread thrown by a Harvard classmate, he would later lose sight in his other eye, and go on, with the aid of a noctograph, to devote his life to the scholarly study of Spanish history. BEYOND a doubt the one-term president who left behind him the greatest record of accomplishment was Ja…, Juárez, Benito 1806-1872 prescott's conquest of mexico from david levin, history as romantic art. In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Prescott's use of racial stereotypes about Native Americans is contained within his Orientalism. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959. Search for: Primary Source: Aztec Accounts of the Conquest, 1520. ." THE HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO William Hickling Prescott Prescott, William Hickling (1796-1859) - An American historian. The Mexican-American War (1846–48) achieved U.S. expansionist goals by adding more than one million square miles to the United S…, ZUMÁRRAGA, JUAN DE Friar Bartolomé de Las Casas, sometimes called the “Apostle of the Indies,” wrote Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies,…. Their works are deemed "American" because they imply that the United States represented the providential destiny of the Americas' settlement, for which the histories of imperial Spain, France, Britain, and the Netherlands were flawed forerunners. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1843. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. A telling example comes in his description of Guatemozin, Montezuma's successor as Aztec emperor, who fought nobly against Cortés through the final siege of Tenochtitlan. Among the native peoples of Mexico, he praises the kingdom of Tezcuco as "the Athens of the Western World" (1:173) and describes "its superiority, in all the great features of civilization, over the rest of Anahuac" in words reminiscent of a proud Bostonian extolling his city's virtues over the crass materialism of New York: "The best histories, the best poems, the best code of laws, the purest dialect, were all allowed to be Tezcucan. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Prescott, William Hickling. The fleet approached the shore of Yucatan, near the island of Cozumel and sailed along to Tabasco, where they landed on March 14 th. Beginning in the mid-20th century, Miguel León-Portilla, author of The Broken Spears , worked to provide a more nuanced history of Mesoamerica by including narratives of Aztec survivors and their descendants. He has been called America’s first scientific historian. William H. Prescott 1843. In an earlier work, The Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (1837), Prescott had provided such an analysis of the Spanish nation. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, also known as the Conquest of Mexico (1519–21), was one of the primary events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. He received three The Conquest of Mexico therefore begins with a comparable account of Aztec society that allows his subsequent narrative to depict a clash between two conflicting peoples. Note: This project had some missing and duplicate sections. There was sporadic fighting for decades to come, but in effect, the conquest was a done deal. not merely the soul, but the body, of the enterprise" (3:352). Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. . In Latin American literature: Chronicles of discovery and conquest …de la Nueva España (1632; The True History of the Conquest of Mexico) is a monumental volume written by a man who claimed to have little formal education, which may explain the book’s particular immediacy and charm. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. This has been corrected as of July 9, 2010. These three excerpts from Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico represent characteristic aspects of his work. The Aztecs rivaled their neighbors in splendor of living, . McWilliams, John P., Jr. Prescott, William Hickling. (Note: This project had some missing and duplicate sections. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. . . the time will not have come to write the history of the Union" (Miscellanies, p. 305). Broken Spears The Aztec Account Of The Conquest Of Mexico Summary. 3 vols. History of Biology: Cell Theory and Cell Structure, History of the Development of Antibiotics, History of the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW), History Projects, Libraries, and Archives, History, Interpretation, and Memory of the Great Depression, History: From the Destruction to Alexander, History: Modern Times – from the 1880s to the Early 21st Century, https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/culture-magazines/history-conquest-mexico, The United States and Mexico: Close Neighbors with Different Goals. is necessarily that of Cortés, who is . The Conquest of Mexico was also a cautionary tale to his fellow citizens, warning them against assuming too readily, as Cortés had done, that providence was on their side, and reminding them of the dangers faced by a government in which people differed violently over whether its institutions supported human prosperity and progress. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1845. These authors brought new rigor and flair to American historical writing, and their work complemented the projects of novelists and poets of their day. "History of the Conquest of Mexico." At the same time, Boston's commercial interests made the city unusually cosmopolitan, a trait reflected by Prescott's contemporaries who sought to overcome their provincial upbringing by seeking education and travel in Europe. The True History of the Conquest of New Spain is an incredible story, by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, of how a tiny band of bold Spanish adventurers, led by the cunning and most ruthless commander, Hernando Cortez, toppled an empire of millions of people. The True History of the Conquest of Mexico, https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-True-History-of-the-Conquest-of-Mexico, Latin American literature: Chronicles of discovery and conquest. As the Conquest of Mexico has occupied the pens of Solís and of Robertson, two of the ablest historians of their respective nations, it might seem that little could remain at the present day to be gleaned by the historical inquirer. In this sense, the conflict between the Spanish conquistadors and the armies of Montezuma "was, in short, the combat of the ancient Greeks and Persians over again" (1:445). History of the Conquest of Mexico & History of the Conquest of Peru unites in one volume for the first time two of Prescott's best known and most powerful works. "Such, for example, are the Chinese." These events complicate any easy identification of Cortés's career with Spain's historical destiny, and Prescott identifies Cortés's genius in his power over a wide variety of men: "differing in race, in language, and in interests, with scarcely anything in common among them . 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