Here is an intriguing exploration of the ways in which the history of the Spanish Conquest has been misread and passed down to become popular knowledge of these events. The book offers a fresh account of the activities of the best-known conquistadors and explorers, including Columbus, Cortés, and Pizarro.
Using a wide array of sources, historian Matthew Restall highlights seven key myths, uncovering the source of the inaccuracies and exploding the fallacies and misconceptions behind each myth. This vividly written and authoritative book shows, for instance, that native Americans did not take the conquistadors for gods and that small numbers of vastly outnumbered Spaniards did not bring down great empires with stunning rapidity. We discover that Columbus was correctly seen in his lifetimeand for decades afteras a briefly fortunate but unexceptional participant in efforts involving many southern Europeans. It was only much later that Columbus was portrayed as a great man who fought against the ignorance of his age to discover the new world. Another popular misconceptionthat the Conquistadors worked aloneis shattered by the revelation that vast numbers of black and native allies joined them in a conflict that pitted native Americans against each other. This and other factors, not the supposed superiority of the Spaniards, made conquests possible.
The Conquest, Restall shows, was more complexand more fascinatingthan conventional histories have portrayed it. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest offers a richer and more nuanced account of a key event in the history of the Americas.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Matthew Restall is Professor of Latin American History, Women's Studies, and Anthropology, and Director of Latin American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of five books, including Maya Conquistador and The Maya World. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very valuable revisionist history of the Spanish invasion of the Americas and its related colonial enterprise. By distilling this history into seven distinct yet overlapping myths that the author sees perpetuated in both popular and academic histories of the invasion (usually referred to as the Conquest, even in the book's title), Restall has provided a coherent accounting of how our understanding of this history has been shaped by a plethora of omissions and biases, both overt and covert, since the sixteenth century. The book is not a history of the invasion, and some understanding of the basic chronology, names, and geography is helpful to really understand what Restall is debunking. In a number of places he seems rushed--for instance, in chapter one on Columbus, he deals with the historiography of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in just two paragraphs (p. 11). In the end, this book is indispensable for understanding the invasion and conquest.
This book is a great second step into clearing up many of the myths that have developed around the conquest. We all have been taught many unfounded things that have gathered legitimacy through time and repetition. By reading this book one can begin the very satisfactory journey of clearing out the layers of myth obscuring historical fact.