In an astonishing work of scholarship that reads like an adventure thriller, historian Buddy Levy records the last days of the Aztec empire and the two men at the center of an epic clash of cultures.
“I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart which can be cured only with gold.” — Hernán Cortés
It was a moment unique in human history, the face-to-face meeting between two men from civilizations a world apart. Only one would survive the encounter. In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived on the shores of Mexico with a roughshod crew of adventurers and the intent to expand the Spanish empire. Along the way, this brash and roguish conquistador schemed to convert the native inhabitants to Catholicism and carry off a fortune in gold. That he saw nothing paradoxical in his intentions is one of the most remarkable—and tragic—aspects of this unforgettable story of conquest.
In Tenochtitlán, the famed City of Dreams, Cortés met his Aztec counterpart, Montezuma: king, divinity, ruler of fifteen million people, and commander of the most powerful military machine in the Americas. Yet in less than two years, Cortés defeated the entire Aztec nation in one of the most astonishing military campaigns ever waged. Sometimes outnumbered in battle thousands-to-one, Cortés repeatedly beat seemingly impossible odds. Buddy Levy meticulously researches the mix of cunning, courage, brutality, superstition, and finally disease that enabled Cortés and his men to survive.
Conquistador is the story of a lost kingdom—a complex and sophisticated civilization where floating gardens, immense wealth, and reverence for art stood side by side with bloodstained temples and gruesome rites of human sacrifice. It’s the story of Montezuma—proud, spiritual, enigmatic, and doomed to misunderstand the stranger he thought a god. Epic in scope, as entertaining as it is enlightening, Conquistador is history at its most riveting.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Conquistador|
|Release Date: 06-24-2008|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Setting Out for New Spain and the Serendipitous Gift of Language
Hernán Cortés strode to the bow of his flagship Santa María de la Concepción, a one-hundred-ton vessel and the largest of his armada, and scanned the horizon for land. He had much to ponder. His navigator and chief pilot, Antonio de Alaminos, an experienced veteran who had been pilot for Columbus on his final voyage, had been in these waters before—on the Ponce de León expedition in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth—and he suggested that if they encountered foul weather, the entire fleet should make land and convene on the island of Cozumel, just east of the Yucatán Peninsula’s northernmost tip. Since their hurried departure from Cuba, the fleet had been buffeted by foul weather, scattering the boats. Cortés brought up the rear, simultaneously scouring for land and for brigantines and caravels blown astray. A few, perhaps as many as five, had been lost during the night, an inauspicious beginning to such an ambitious voyage.
Cortés had staked everything he owned on this venture—in fact more than that, for he had incurred significant debt building the ships and stocking them with provisions. His hope to get off to a good start had been slightly compromised when his patron, the fat hidalgo Diego Velázquez, now governor of Cuba, attempted to thwart his departure, even after he had signed a contract officially confirming Cortés as captain- general. Velázquez’s behavior was no surprise, given the contentious nature of their relationship. On his arrival in Hispaniola (the modern-day Dominican Republi