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The Siege of Tenochtitlan

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 27 October 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Siege of Tenochtitlan. In 1521 the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes led an army of Spanish and native forces against the city of Tenochtitlan, the spectacular island capital of the Aztec civilisation. At first Cortes had been welcomed by the Aztec leader, Moctezuma, and he and his men were treated like kings. But their friendship proved short-lived, and soon celebrations turned into vicious fighting.

After a prolonged siege and fierce battle, in which many thousands died, the city finally fell. This major confrontation between Old and New Worlds precipitated the downfall of the Aztec Empire, and marked a new phase in European colonisation of the Americas.

With:

Alan Knight
Professor of the History of Latin America at the University of Oxford

Elizabeth Graham
Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology at University College, London

Caroline Dodds Pennock
Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield

Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

  • FURTHER READING

    Berdan, Frances F., ‘The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society’ (Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont, California, 2005)

    Clendinnen, Inga, ‘Aztecs: An Interpretation’ (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

    Clendinnen, Inga, ‘Fierce and Unnatural Cruelty’: Cortés and the Conquest of Mexico, Representations 33: 65-100 (1991)

    Cortés, Hernán, ‘Letters from Mexico’, translated and edited by Anthony Pagden (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1982)

    Dodds Pennock, Caroline, ‘Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

    Hassig, Ross, ‘Mexico and the Spanish Conquest’ (Longman, 1994)

    Diaz del Castillo, Bernal, ‘The Conquest of New Spain’, translated by John Cohen (Penguin, London, 1963)

    Graham, Elizabeth, ‘Maya Christians and Their Churches in Sixteenth-Century Belize’ (University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2011)

    Miller, Mary and Karl Taube, ‘An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya’ (Thames and Hudson, London, 1993)

    Restall, Matthew, ‘Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest’ (Oxford University Press, 2003)

    Smith, Michael E., ‘Aztec City-State Capitals’ (University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2008)

    Thomas, Hugh, ‘The Conquest of Mexico’ (Pimlico, 1994)

    Townsend, Richard F., ‘The Aztecs’ (Thames and Hudson, London, 2009)

    Townsend, Camilla, ‘Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico’ (University of New Mexico Press, 2006)

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