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When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History
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A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortés that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction—the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas—has long been the symbol of Cortés's bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.
But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortés uses "the Meeting"—as Restall dubs their first encounter—as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortés's and Montezuma's posthumous reputations, their achievements and failures, and the worlds in which they lived—leading, step by step, to a dramatic inversion of the old story. As Restall takes us through this sweeping, revisionist account of a pivotal moment in modern civilization, he calls into question our view of the history of the Americas, and, indeed, of history itself.

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Street Date:
01/30/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062427281
ASIN:
B072F14KHD
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APA Citation (style guide)

Matthew Restall. (2018). When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Matthew Restall. 2018. When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Matthew Restall, When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History. Ecco, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Matthew Restall. When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History. Ecco, 2018. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Matthew Restall is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History and director of Latin American studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is president of the American Society for Ethnohistory, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the John Carter Brown Library, the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has written twenty books and sixty articles and essays on the histories of the Mayas, of Africans in Spanish America, and of the Spanish Conquest. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife and the youngest of his four daughters.

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shortDescription

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortés that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction—the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas—has long been the symbol of Cortés's bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.
But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortés uses "the Meeting"—as Restall dubs their first encounter—as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma....

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title
When Montezuma Met Cortés
fullDescription

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortés that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas

On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction—the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas—has long been the symbol of Cortés's bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.
But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortés uses "the Meeting"—as Restall dubs their first encounter—as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortés's and Montezuma's posthumous reputations, their achievements and failures, and the worlds in which they lived—leading, step by step, to a dramatic inversion of the old story. As Restall takes us through this sweeping, revisionist account of a pivotal moment in modern civilization, he calls into question our view of the history of the Americas, and, indeed, of history itself.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Wall Street Journal
      • content: "Restall has a well-earned reputation as a mythbuster in the history of the New World. . . . A lively, original, and readable book aimed at a wider audience. . . . A remarkable achievement."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: "Blending erudition with enthusiasm, Restall has achieved a rare kind of work—serious scholarship that is impossible to put down."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus (online)
      • content: "A narrative that complicates our understanding of a history that, though well-known, is wrong in many of its details. In correcting it, Restall makes a fine contribution to the history of the New World, one that should inspire other re-evaluations of our cherished stories."
      • premium: False
      • source: Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Columbus and Amerigo
      • content: "Matthew Restall illuminates every topic he touches. His new book is the best study ever—the subtlest, most sensitive, most challenging, and best-informed—on the conquest of Mexico."
      • premium: False
      • source: Charles Mann, author of 1491
      • content: "A new, startlingly persuasive picture of what actually happened during the Spanish Conquest, based on a radical question: What if the tough, canny leaders of these native military empires didn't suddenly fold up like wet cardboard at the arrival of a couple of hundred bearded oddities from some faraway place?"
      • premium: False
      • source: Louis S. Warren, author of God’s Red Son:  The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America
      • content: "In a deeply learned history that reads like a detective story, Restall reveals the Gordian knot of myth and fiction that have long hidden the real history of the encounter between Montezuma and Cortes. The history of the Americas will never be the same."
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2017

        In his November 8, 1519, meeting with Aztec emperor Montezuma, Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes is typically portrayed as a bold military genius triumphing over a temporizing enemy. But Restall, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History and director of Latin American Studies at Pennsylvania State University, offers a different picture.Chills from Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Hart and Agatha and Macavity Award-winning MasseyPREPUB ALERT ONLINE: reviews.libraryjournal.com/category/prepub SIGN UP: ow.ly/60SSZ

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 15, 2017
        A methodical deconstruction of the myths surrounding Hernando Cortes' "Mexican conquest" and the surrender of Montezuma. Restall's (Latin American History/Pennsylvania State Univ.; The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan, 2013, etc.) main point is that the more you shift the point of view, the more is revealed. The traditional story fits the bill for all Western universal narratives in which civilizations are victorious over barbarism, thereby justifying invasion. The same goes for the usual claims that the natives were cannibals and sodomists, all used to make the victors look good. The story of Cortes landing in Mexico, being treated as a god, and accepting Montezuma's "surrender" to the great king of Spain is fiction. The author looks at the small force Cortes brought from Cuba to explore the coastline and sees an outnumbered group, fighting among themselves and overstepping their orders. He also reminds us of the "black legend" of the conquistadors as vicious, bloodthirsty murderers and slavers. The myth of Cortes is based almost entirely on his second letter (the first is lost) to the Spanish king in which his claims are nothing but fabrications. At the time of writing, he and his men were guests of Montezuma and nowhere near subduing this highly civilized people. It is the case of the victor writing the history, and Cortes' letter was the basis for it. Even more interesting is Restall's view of emperor Montezuma, whom history has called a coward. The author makes an excellent case for a strong leader of a civilization of tens of thousands in a city with gardens, palaces, and even a zoo at least a century before any European court. There was no need for him to fear the few hundred Spanish, and he was most likely toying with them, unaware of the cruel treachery that would result. Throughout, Restall's assertions are well-supported and difficult to refute, and the timeline that opens the book is particularly helpful. An engaging revisionist exploration of "one of human history's great lies."

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 13, 2017
        Restall (The Conquistadors), director of Latin-American studies at Penn State, makes an impressive and nuanced case for why radically reinterpreting the Nov. 8, 1519, encounter between Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés and Aztec emperor Montezuma leads to a totally different view of the following four centuries. “The Meeting,” as Restall dubs it, is the founding myth of Latin-American history, an event that inhabits the liminal space between history and legend. What is known about the meeting has been gleaned almost entirely from one source: 16th-century foot-soldier Bernal Díaz’s True History of New Spain, which Restall argues is neither true nor strictly historical. Using his knowledge of the Nahuatl language to revisit forgotten texts and parse eyewitness accounts of the Aztecs’ “surrender,” Restall strips away layers of accumulated historical sediment to reveal a meeting that looks very different from the version found in history textbooks and memorialized in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. According to Restall, the meeting wasn’t a turning point but rather merely one moment in the Spanish-Aztec War, a brutal two-year struggle historically whitewashed in favor of an account that justifies and reinforces the European presence in the Americas and became the foundation for a false history of indigenous weakness and European superiority. Blending erudition with enthusiasm, Restall has achieved a rare kind of work—serious scholarship that is impossible to put down. Illus.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        November 1, 2017
        Restall (2012 and the End of the World, 2011), prolific author and director of Latin American studies at Pennsylvania State, takes on the enormous task of deconstructing the old mythistory of the Spanish Conquest, an event he renames the Spanish Aztec War. His painstaking analysis questions the essence of history itself as a discipline, an inquiry that is especially opportune in these times of truthiness and fake news. In this fascinating narrative, accessible to the general reader, Restall exposes the time-honored tropes that have well served colonial empires and manifest destiny. He reintroduces all the usual suspects, including Montezuma, Cortes, and Malinche, in a fresh, human context. It turns out that Montezuma was a kind of librarian, a collector and cataloger of flora and fauna, including the human variety. This kind of insight makes the book a clear-eyed, commonsense-based addition to the canon. A substantial resource, it also includes a time line, an incredible gallery of images, an appendix that includes a dynastic diagram and a careful explanation of language and labels, and, finally, an exhaustive bibliography and copious notes.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

subtitle
The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History
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527
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Ecco
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