Five Letters of Cortes to the Emperor: 1519 -1526

Written by Hernando Cortes

“One of the most fascinating Machiavellian documents to come out of the Renaissance.”—Carlos Fuentes, Guardian

These five letters from Hernando Cortés to Emperor Charles V of Spain between the year 1519 and 1526 chronicle the expansion of the Spanish Empire into Mexico.

In his detailed and fascinating letters, Cortés gives an account of the discovery of the mainland, the conquerors trek into hostile country and their clashes with the Aztec people led by Montezuma II.

Translated by Francis Augustus MacNutt, this edition contains many enlightening footnotes and an introduction which gives a wider context to the letters and provides a historiography of the contemporary accounts of Cortés and his conquistadors.

“In the letters of Cortés we have a clear picture of Mexico through the simple eyes of the conqueror who admires his enemies… He could write a masterly report. The second and the third letters are the clearest piece of narrative that we can ask for. We see the advance into the country, the conscientious determination to penetrate by peace, diplomacy or the sword to Montezuma’s capital, leading up to the final dramatic meeting with Montezuma himself.” ―New Statesman

Hernando Cortés, born 1485, was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers who began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. He died in 1547.

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