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This is both a specific study of conversion in a corner of the Spanish Empire, and a work with implications for the understanding of European domination and native resistance throughout the colonial world. Dr Clendinnen explores the intensifying conflict between competing and increasingly divergent Spanish visions of Yucatan and its destructive outcomes. She seeks to penetrate the ways of thinking and feeling of the Mayan Indians in a detailed reconstruction of their assessment of the intruders.
In 1521, the city of Tenochtitlan, magnificent centre of the Aztec empire, fell to the Spaniards and their Indian allies. Inga Clendinnen's account of the Aztecs recreates the culture of that city in its last unthreatened years. It provides a vividly dramatic analysis of Aztec ceremony as performance art, binding the key experiences and concerns of social existence in the late imperial city to the mannered violence of their ritual killings.
How can men be brought to look steadily on the face of battle? Tenochtitlán, the great city of the Aztecs, was the creation of war, and war was its dynamic. In the title work of this compelling collection of essays, Inga Clendinnen reconstructs the sequence of experiences through which young Aztec warriors were brought to embrace their duty to their people, to their city, and to the forces that moved the world and the heavens. Subsequent essays explore the survival of Yucatec Maya culture in the face of Spanish conquest and colonisation, the insidious corruption of an austere ideology translated into dangerously novel circumstances, and the multiple paths to the sacred constructed by 'defeated' populations in sixteenth-century Mexico. The collection ends with Clendinnen's transition to the colonial history of her own country: a close and loving reading of the 1841 expedition journal of George Augustus Robinson, appointed 'Protector of Aborigines' in the Port Philip District of Australia.