Map of Tenochtitlan by Hernán Cortés

This autobiographical work by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés describes his invasion and subjugation of Mexico and its native inhabitants. At the time of this invasion, Cortés was violating orders by Diego Velásquez de Cuéllar, the Governor of Cuba and his ostensible superior. As a result, this book serves as a justification for his extreme actions and is not an objective or dispassionate historical account. However, the work does give some insight into the political and social state of Mexico during his military campaign. The best example of this is the map of Tenochtitlan that Cortés included, which provides the earliest graphic depiction of the Aztec city. This map, first published in 1524 alongside Cortés’ letters to Emperor Charles V, would have been the first opportunity for Europeans to see what native cities in the Americas looked like. As Tenochtitlan was destroyed soon after Cortés’ conquest, this map would have been one of the few authoritative images that other geographers and mapmakers could have relied on in their subsequent works.

Hernán Cortés (1485-1547)
Praeclara Ferdinādi Cortesii de Noua maris Oceani Hyspania narratio.
Norimberga: Per Fridericum Peypus, 1524.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A version of this text has been digitized and is available through The Internet Archive.

Digitized Version