A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and 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 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 the 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.
About the Author
Matthew Restall was born in London, and educated at Oxford and at UCLA. He is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History and Director of Latin American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. He 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 has four daughters and is married to the art historian Amara Solari.
"Restall skillfully describes a subtler story of relationships both loving and coercive... Bold."
"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."
Wall Street Journal
"Blending erudition with enthusiasm, Restall has achieved a rare kind of work-serious scholarship that is impossible to put down."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A methodical deconstruction of the myths surrounding Hernando Cortes' 'Mexican conquest' and the surrender of Montezuma. . . . 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."