History of the Conquest of Mexico

Written by William H. Prescott
Category: · History

The Aztec Empire was one of the most remarkable civilizations to have ever existed.

In 1519, Hernándo Cortés landed on the Gulf Coast, and two years later the Aztec civilization was a shadow of its former self.

The Spanish must have appeared invincible, with their Tlascalan allies, armoured pikemen, musketeers with gunpowder and mounted cavalry.

But the conquest of Mexico was no simple process for the Spanish conquistadors.

The Aztecs threw everything they had against their invaders. They fought in ferocious battles and committed bloody slaughter all under the fierce leadership of Montezuma.

It was only through Spanish persistence that they pushed through the region conquering as they went.

What stands out in Prescott’s masterful history of Mexico’s conquest is his sketches of the various instrumental figures involved, from Montezuma to Cortés and his lieutenants.

“The sheer accumulation of substantiated detail is propelled forward by Prescott’s unsparing identification with the fundamentally tragic nature of the conflict…. He has intuited that the “conquest” of Mexico was, in fact, the unsuccessful enterprise of grafting one civilization upon another.” – The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review

William H. Prescott published his History of the Conquest of Mexico in 1843 and The New York Times stated that it “has remained surprisingly unsurpassed since its publication.” Prescott was one of the most eminent historians of the 19th century. He died in 1859.

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