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CLIP 12112

The Spanish conquest of South America from 1521 (audio)

The Spanish conquest of South America from 1521 (audio)

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Key Info
  • The Spanish conquest of South America from 1521 (audio)
  • Duration: 13:00
  • Neil MacGregor tells the story of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, beginning in present-day Mexico City where the majority of the population are Roman Catholic. How did this huge conversion from indigenous religious beliefs to Catholicism take place? Neil MacGregor uses a codex map from 1521 to tell the story of conquest and conversion. The map does not describe physical geography but shows the progress of the Catholic religion during the conquest. The indigenous peoples of the area depicted, Tlaxcala, joined the Spanish to defeat the Aztecs and a culturally mixed ruling elite developed, with new churches built directly on top of the temples of the indigenous religion. The script is written in a version of the native language using a European alphabet. Neil MacGregor describes how the old and new faiths have fused to develop traditions such as the 'Day of the Dead', an important day of celebration in Mexico. MacGregor closes by visiting the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Guadalupe, the second most visited Catholic shrine in the world after the Vatican. This clip was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of the ‘History of the World in 100 Objects’ series. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
  • Subject:



    Empires and Decolonisation

  • Keywords: Mexico, maps, map making, cartography, Spain, language, Catholicism, colonisation, Spanish Conquest, religion, geography, History of the World, empire, colonisation, colonies, colonial, codex
Ideas for use in class
  • Students can listen to the quote from the Franciscan Letter (6 min 24 – 06 min 43) and also have a copy of the map. What do the sources suggest about Spanish (a) ambitions in Mexico and (b) the methods they are willing to use to achieve these aims? Extension: How useful is the map to a historian studying the methods used by Spain to control and dominate Mexico in the 16th century? Images of the object and further information, including a full transcription of the programme, can be found on the programme page:
Background details
  • Clip language : English
  • Aspect ratio : 16x9

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