Letters from Mexico
Author: Hernán Cortés, Anthony Pagden
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: August 11, 2001
Hernán Cortés’s Cartas de Relación, written over a seven-year period to Charles V of Spain, provide an extraordinary narrative account of the conquest of Mexico from the founding of the coastal town of Veracruz until Cortés’s journey to Honduras in 1525. Pagden’s English translation has been prepared from a close examination of the earliest surviving manuscript and of the first printed editions, and he also provides a new introduction offering a bold and innovative interpretation of the nature of the conquest and Cortes’s involvement in it. J. H. Elliot’s introductory essay explains Cortes’s conflicts with the Crown and with Diego Velazquez, the governor of Cuba.
“The definitive edition [of the letters] in any language. . . . The book is a ’must’ for all those who are seriously interested in this traumatic clash of civilizations and the consequences, both for good and ill, which ensued.”—C. R. Boxer, English Historical Review
“One of the most fascinating Machiavellian documents to come out of the Renaissance.”—Carlos Fuentes, Guardian
“[Pagden] provides us with two important innovations: the first reliable edition of the most important Spanish text . . . and annotations that draw on Pagden’s own profound knowledge of Mesoamerican cultures.”—Helen Nader, Sixteenth Century Journal