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The Lords of Tetzcoco
The Transformation of Indigenous Rule in Postconquest Central Mexico


Part of Cambridge Latin American Studies

  • Date Published: April 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316640692

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About the Authors
  • Tetzcoco was one of the most important cities of the pre-Hispanic Aztec Empire. When the Spaniards arrived in 1519, the indigenous hereditary nobles that governed Tetzcoco faced both opportunities and challenges, and were forced to adapt from the very moment of contact. This book examines how the city's nobility navigated this tumultuous period of conquest and colonialism, and negotiated a place for themselves under Spanish rule. While Tetzcoco's native nobles experienced a remarkable degree of continuity with the pre-contact period, especially in the first few decades after conquest, various forces and issues, such as changing access to economic resources, interethnic marriage, and intra-familial conflict, transformed Tetzcoco's ruling family into colonial subjects by the century's end.

    • Examines the colonial history of one of the most important cities of prehispanic Mesoamerica, providing readers with one of the very few in-depth studies of this city in this particular time period
    • Analyzes Spanish colonization from the perspective of indigenous colonial subjects, giving readers an alternative version of how colonization took hold and was maintained in this region
    • Draws on a number of pictorial sources, providing a wider range of source material than is typical in history monographs
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Tetzcoco was known in pre-hispanic and colonial central Mexico not only as the leading city-state in the Acolhuacan region, major partner in the Triple Alliance, but also as a center of law and culture. Its ruling dynasty produced two of the major chroniclers of native indigenous cultural and history, both of whom played roles in the region's governance despite their mixed-race background as this gracefully written history shows. The political history of the ruling family and the colonial vicissitudes they endured has needed a chronicler and Bradley Benton has proven to be the historian to provide it.' Susan Kellogg, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Latin American Studies, University of Houston

    'The Lords of Tetzcoco makes a vital contribution to the rich scholarship on Mesoamerica's postconquest indigenous élite. Benton uses a wide array of sources in Nahuatl and Spanish to trace continuity and change in indigenous political authority in the early colonial period, highlighting how the native élite navigated the challenges of the Spanish regime. His detailed narrative brings to life the ambitions, machinations, and resilience of the indigenous rulers of the 'Athens of Anahuac'.' Yanna Yannakakis, Emory University, Atlanta

    'This book is a prime exhibit of the sophisticated approach that a new generation of historians has brought to indigenous social history. Benton deftly pulls together strands from Spanish, and some Nahuatl, language sources to weave a vibrant history of the colonial aristocracy of Tetzcoco, a powerful Nahua polity in sixteenth-century Mexico.' David Tavárez, author of The Invisible War and co-author of Chimalpahin's Conquest and Painted Words

    'Students of the period will appreciate Benton's ability to toggle between marquee history (the fall of Tenochtitlan, the plague of sheep) and the smaller dramas unfolding in Tetzcoco, particularly within the palace walls. The book makes the most of the sometimes scant historical sources for the period and offers nuanced readings of better known ones.' Barbara Mundy, The Americas

    'Benton's work balances admirably clear context with rich personal stories based on meticulous archival research, and it is excellent to see him foregrounding the experiences and voices of women throughout his analysis.' Caroline Dodds Pennock, H-LatAm

    'Benton presents the accelerating struggle over land and water resources through the testimonies of a number of archival documents that reveal the extent of the conflict between Tetzcocan nobles and entrepreneurial intruders.' Justyna Olko, Latin American Research Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316640692
    • length: 212 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 2 maps 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Conquest and Continuity:
    1. Tumultuous colonial beginnings, 1515–39
    2. Reassertion of traditional authority, 1540–64
    Part II. Post-1564 Transformative Forces:
    3. Noble resources: tribute, labor, and land
    4. Interethnic unions and the rise of Mestizos
    5. Family conflict and local power
    Conclusions: a colonial aristocracy.

  • Author

    Bradley Benton, North Dakota State University
    Bradley Benton is Assistant Professor of History at North Dakota State University. His areas of research include Colonial Mexico; Aztec politics, society, and culture; the early-modern Atlantic world; and cross-cultural contact and exchange.

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