Early Modern Spain
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Of all the clichés in the explorer's phrasebook, 'take me to your leader' is the most common, and with reason. An early audience with the Head Man can be a shrewd move in both diplomatic and strategic terms, clearing the way for a cordial reception or a bloodless coup. Self-esteem can also be an important consideration: dealing with the local chieftain on equal terms is good for the ego of an adventurer of ignoble birth and low social status. Diplomacy, conquest and self-aggrandisement were prominent among the motives which led the early Spanish conquistadores to seek out those in highest authority wherever they went. But in an unfamiliar culture it can be difficult to read the signs, and to be certain who really matters. The purpose of this article is to examine a number of ways in which the Spanish characterised the leaders of the cultures with which they were in contact during the first forty years or so of discovery and conquest in the New World.
There are thirteen principal figures mentioned in the study: three discoverers and two chroniclers; five new-world leaders; and three old-world commentators who illustrate the extremes of a spectrum of representations under review. The discoverers are Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro and their chroniclers Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Pedro de Cieza de León. The leaders are the unnamed cacique who came aboard Columbus's flagship the Santa María on 18 December 1492, and his near neighbour Guacanagarí; the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II and his successor Cuauhtémoc; and the Inca ruler Atahualpa. The commentators are John Mandeville, Marco Polo and Niccol˜ Machiavelli. How did each of the three agents of Spanish conquest perceive the representatives of political power in the new-found lands? How did they describe them in their dispatches? What familiar models of kingship or despotism did they draw on in the process? These questions will help us to understand how the discoverers conceptualised the political structures they encountered and the roles of the individuals who held office within them.
In recent years, and particularly during the period leading up to the quincentennial commemoration of the first encounter, it has become common to criticise Columbus and his successors for their lack of openness to the cultures of the New World. Tzvetan Todorov's classic study of 1982 encapsulated the issue of the self and the other in the early colonial context, 2 and since then, there have been numerous discussions of ways in which old-world images have collided with and sometimes obliterated new-world realities. The tone of such discussions has usually been reproachful. Santa Arias, for example, in an otherwise even-handed article, comments as follows:
Many recent studies have stated that the explorers' first oral and written descriptions reiterated the old themes and general attitudes of the popular culture of the High Middle Ages and of the Renaissance. The sixteenth-century writers' use of conceptual strategies of representation taken from prior literature has served to confirm that the discovery and exploration of the unknown lands did not have a great impact on the intellectual culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries...This 'blunt impact', as Elliott has called it, may be explained by the ideological advantages that inhere in the failure or refusal to comprehend an unknown culture. Simply dismissing an unknown culture as barbaric made the work of the historians easier and assisted the state in legitimating conquest rather than peaceful coexistence. The historians simply assimilated their experiences to the fantastic and marvelous descriptions of the prior antiprimitivist texts. This disavowal of difference flowed directly from the textual descriptions of classical and medieval encyclopedists, which had not accurately reflected actual cultural practices. (164-65) 3
The negative tone of this assessment is understandable, but, I would argue, misplaced in some respects. As Elliott has commented on Cortés, observation in the Humboldtian sense is an attempt to 'bring the exotic into the range of the familiar'; nevertheless, the discoverers' general failure to communicate the physical characteristics of the New World 'contrasts strikingly with the many precise and acute descriptions of the native inhabitants'. 4 This article offers an analysis of some of these descriptions, together with a preliminary account of the mental models which underlie them. What emerges is a range of models, or stereotypes, which evolve through time and in response to the changing circumstances of the men who applied them.
As with virtually every other issue affecting the earliest European encounters with America, the question of leadership and authority is raised in a particularly acute form in Columbus's Journal, or Diario, of the 1492 voyage. 5 It hardly needs to be said that, as originally conceived, the 1492 voyage was not a voyage of discovery at all, but a calculated attempt to reach a known destination by a previously untravelled route. There is ample evidence that Columbus, along with a number of European geographers, made careful assessments of the practicality of the Atlantic route to the far east based on a range of navigational and geographical sources which, in the event, turned out to be completely worthless. 6
In the prologue to the Diario Columbus sets out the four major objectives of the voyage -religious, diplomatic, economic and scientific- with a clarity which is belied by, and which undoubtedly contributed to, the confusion which clouded his judgment at almost every stage of his subsequent career. Chief among the objectives was to establish contact with a great leader thought to be amenable to an alliance with Christendom against Islam:
...from information which I had given Your Highnesses about the lands of India and a prince called the Great Khan, 7 which means in our language King of Kings, and how he and his ancestors had many times sent to Rome for learned men to instruct him in our holy faith...Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and princes devoted to the holy Christian faith and the furtherance of its cause, and enemies of the sect of Mohammed and of all idolatry and heresy, resolved to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the said regions of India to see the said princes and the peoples and lands and determine the nature of them and of all other things, and the measures to be taken to convert them to our holy faith...8
Leaving aside the fact that Columbus's intelligence was way out of date -Kublai Khan died in 1294 and the last Mongol emperor, Togon-temür, was overthrown in 1368- the prominence given to the Great Khan in the planning and execution of the voyage helps to explain why the search for 'el gran Can' comes to dominate Columbus's day-to-day management of the expedition after the landfall.
In fact, the search has three aspects to it. At one level Columbus has a specific model in mind. The historical figure of the Great Khan is a guarantor of geographical and navigational achievement: if Columbus can find the Great Khan he must be in Cathay. His initial objective is therefore to locate an individual who corresponds as closely as possible to a pre-existing description. 9 However, as the expedition continues and the likelihood of this outcome recedes, the initial objective becomes more generalised, and evolves into a search for anyone in a position of authority, not so much because Columbus wishes to negotiate with such a person, but because he needs evidence that a political structure exists. The search for a structure, rather than an individual, becomes another way of deriving meaning from an inchoate mass of geographical and ethnographical data. And at a third level, the language of the Journal shows Columbus struggling with related issues of terminology: how should he describe the leader he is seeking, especially once he has shifted from the specific to the general objective?
The linguistic difficulties associated with the search for a leader should not be underestimated, given the close relationship between structure and terminology. Whatever word is used to describe the occupant of the most senior post in a political system, it will inevitably imply a great deal about the nature of that system and the tenure of the post. So far, this article has used nine English terms ('emperor', 'king', 'prince', 'despot', 'head of state', 'authority', 'chief', 'chieftain' and 'head man'), all of which imply different systems and cultures, and the use of the word 'leader' is an attempt to find something fairly neutral. Columbus does not seem to have looked for an equivalent generic term. The word he uses most frequently is rey, but he also uses señor, príncipe, principal, juez and gobernador, together with a range of adjectival phrases, before eventually settling for the Arawak terms cacique and nitaino. 10
At the outset, however, rey ('king') was a perfectly reasonable word to use, as Columbus was indeed looking for a person of very considerable prominence, a 'prince' called the Great Khan or 'king of kings'. 11 For reasons which are now clear to us, though they were not then clear to Columbus, this individual could not be located, even after Columbus had made his way to Cuba, an island he correctly described on several occasions as larger than England and Scotland put together. On 2 November 1492 he decided to send Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, who between them spoke Hebrew, Chaldean and a little Arabic, into the interior of the island in an attempt to make contact: " He gave them instructions on how they should ask for the king [rey] of that land and what they should tell him on behalf of the Monarchs [Reyes] of Castile..."12
The two men returned on 6 November, having made contact with a large village of some 50 houses and 1000 inhabitants. They had been treated well, the most honourable men of the village had carried them on their shoulders to the main house and given them two seats on which to sit while they all sat on the floor around them, 13 and assurances had been given that the cinnamon and pepper, of which they carried samples, were to be found in quantity to the south east of the village. But, finding no indication of any city, they had returned, bringing with them an elder [un principal] of the village, with his son and a manservant. 14 Columbus was evidently unimpressed by this catch. The elder proved timid and fled, and the whole episode was dismissed by Columbus in his later report to the Catholic Monarchs: "They found many settlements and countless people but no sign of any authority [regimiento]." 15
By December, Columbus had left Cuba for the neighbouring island of Española (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and desperation was beginning to set in. From this point the Journal contains more and more rhapsodic accounts of the landscape, but there is no sign of a power structure or a head of state. On 16 December, however, things began to improve. With Columbus anchored in the Tortuga Channel, 500 indians gathered on the beach, together with a man he calls their 'king' (rey). He is a young man, about twenty-one years old, and is accompanied by an elderly man described as a 'tutor' (ayo) and other 'counsellors who advised him and answered for him' since he himself speaks little. 16 The king is reported to have offered the Spaniards anything they needed, and Columbus comments on their nakedness and physical beauty. Later the king went aboard the Santa María and was given some food which he tasted and passed on to his companions.
Two days later, on Tuesday 18 December, the cacique again visited the Admiral on board the Santa María, and this time Columbus records the episode at greater length and in finer detail:
They said that the king was on his way with more than 200 men, and that four men were carrying him on a litter and that he was a young man, as was said earlier. Today, while the Admiral was eating beneath the forecastle, he came to the ship with all his men. And the Admiral says to the Monarchs: Your Highnesses would no doubt approve of the ceremony and respect with which they all treat him, although they all go naked. As soon as he came aboard the ship he found that I was eating at the table beneath the forecastle and he strode right up and sat down beside me and did not wish to give me the chance to go out to meet him nor rise from the table, but bade me continue my meal. I thought that he would be pleased to eat some of our food. I then ordered him to be brought something to eat. When he entered below the forecastle he gestured with his hand that his men should remain outside and so they did with the greatest readiness and respect in the world and they all sat on the deck except two men of mature age, whom I took to be his counsellors and tutor, who came and sat at his feet. And of the dishes which I put before him he took just enough from each to sample them and then sent the rest to his men and they all ate it, and he did the same with the drink, which he merely raised to his lips and then gave to the others, and all with an amazing gravity and with few words, and those he did speak, as far as I could understand, were very wise and considered and those two men watched his mouth and spoke for him and with him and with great respect. After he had eaten, a page brought a belt just like those from Castile in manufacture although the workmanship is different, which he took and gave to me, and two pieces of worked gold which were very thin, because I believe that they get very little of it here, although I hold that they are very close to its source and there is a great deal of it. I saw that he liked a tapestry which I had over my bed. I gave it to him with some very good amber beads which I had around my neck, and some red slippers, and a flask of orange-flower water with which he was so pleased that it was amazing. He and his tutor and counsellors are very sad because they could not understand me nor I them. Nevertheless, I understood him to say that if I wanted anything from there, the whole island was at my disposal... 17
This description builds on many of the characteristics which were first mentioned in the narrative of 16 December. The nakedness, the man's comparative youth, his quiet bearing and spare habits are reiterated, but they are woven into an altogether richer tapestry which emphasises a number of traditional regal attributes. Essentially, what has changed is that Columbus has invested the man's visit with ceremony, the feature of kings which, for Shakespeare, most clearly marked them off, 'creating awe and fear in other men' (Henry V, iv, i). Ritual and pomp are an important part of the way in which power is formalised and made visible within society. 18 At this remove we cannot be certain to what extent Columbus correctly observed and interpreted within their original context the details of the cacique's visit: the bearing on a litter, the size of the entourage, the tasting of the food, the elaborate display of good manners, and so on. But it is clear that Columbus read these details as ceremonial in nature, and therefore as evidence of the existence of the kind of power structure or political system [regimiento] he was searching for.
Unlike many other discoverers of the time, Columbus had first-hand experience of regal ceremonies, having spent many years in negotiations with both the Portuguese and the Spanish monarchy. Even so, he would have been familiar with the way in which medieval writers like Mandeville and Marco Polo tended to describe the role and person of the king. Monarchy was, after all, the predominant form of leadership for the vast majority of Europeans, and although no single pattern prevailed, the model was in all cases Christian, and based on a common fund of images and symbols from the Old Testament. 19 Jacques le Goff has characterised the medieval model of the king in terms of three features: monarchy, christianity and nobility. The medieval king rules alone, defends the faith and inherits his or her position through a blood line. 20 It was these necessary conditions of kingship that Columbus was responding to when he wrote his account of the cacique's visit.
The man's youth was an encouraging sign, since, taken together with the fact that he was in the company of older men who clearly respected him, it suggested an inherited entitlement to office. The strong hint of noble origins is picked up in some of the more obvious aspects of his appearance and behaviour. His nakedness is belied by his grace and natural authority. He is held in respect and is borne aloft on a litter. He shows good manners in not allowing Columbus to get up from the table. His modesty and gravitas are evident in the way he eats sparingly, 21 showing consideration for his entourage, 22 and in the fact that he is a man of very few words. And he demonstrates one of the key qualities of the monarch -largitas, generosity- in putting the whole of the island at Columbus's disposal. 23
The other two characteristics of royalty were less easy to be certain of. As far as the man's Christianity is concerned, Columbus had long since concluded that the islanders had no religion of their own, and so could easily be converted to Christianity. 24 But this in itself was not an obstacle to the cacique's being a king, because not only was he potentially a Christian, but he had protected the Spaniards and shown them hospitality. And Marco Polo had made the same point in his account of Kublai Khan: although not a Christian himself, the Khan had protected Christian interests, for example, in preventing Saracens and Jews from insulting the sign of the cross. 25 And as to the cacique's being a true monarch, one that rules alone, Columbus had already concluded that this man was the king of the whole island. 26
Taken as a whole, it seems clear from the description of the cacique's visit that Columbus is not just describing, but is constructing an image of a 'noble savage' in which the naked reality is clothed in a rhetoric of expectation. In spite of the admitted lack of communication (as far as Columbus could tell his words were wise and considered; Columbus could not understand anything, although he did understand him to say that they could take anything they wanted), Columbus paints in words a replica of the regal image he is expecting to encounter from his reading of John Mandeville and Marco Polo. Both these writers describe at length the ceremony and protocol with which the Great Khan was surrounded at court; the way he sat on a dais surrounded by thousands of courtiers; how his food was served at great banquets in elaborate and silent ritual; and the extent of his power and nobility such that 'there is no lord so great nor so rich and powerful...truly, it is a great pity he is not Christian.' 27
The propensity to describe not what we see but what we expect to see is a common human failing which Columbus often exhibited to a very marked degree. It is what Todorov calls a 'stratégie finaliste de l'interprétation': Columbus knows in advance what he is going to find; experience is there to illustrate the truth, not to be interrogated, and his interpretation of the signs is determined by the result he wishes to achieve. 28 To some extent this is perfectly reasonable: he is, after all, only checking progress against objectives. The question is how did he know what he was looking for, where did he get his guidance from? As Todorov points out, having learned the word cacique Columbus was less interested in finding out what it meant within the relative hierarchy of the Indies than in deciding what Spanish word it corresponded to. 29 Put another way, he was measuring reality against a mental model which clearly came from his reading, and from the associated literary topoi.
In spite of the prominence given to the unnamed cacique in the Journal entries for 16-18 December, this man does not merit a mention in either of the two letters, to Ferdinand and Isabel or to Luis de Santángel, dated March 1493. That is because this cacique was quickly superseded in Columbus's estimation by another 'king' later that month. The new cacique was in fact an altogether more prominent figure, a man named in the Journal as Guacanagarí, chief of the Marien district, one of the 24 districts of Bainoa province, itself one of the five original provinces into which Española was divided at the time of Columbus's arrival. 30 Columbus came into contact with Guacanagarí on 22 December 1492, just before one of the major turning points of the first voyage, the sinking of the Santa María and the founding of Navidad. The first contact was fairly routine, the cacique sending a large canoe to the Admiral with an invitation to visit and a present of a gold belt, but there grew up between the two men a close relationship founded on sympathy and even affection.
Columbus had reason to be grateful for his prior acquaintance with Guacanagarí once the Santa María ran aground in the early hours of Christmas Day. The Admiral sent two men ashore to alert the cacique, who responded quickly and effectively to the crisis. He roused the people and sent several large canoes to off-load the ship, and personally supervised the safe storage of the goods once they had been brought ashore. Nor did he neglect to comfort the Admiral on his loss:
From time to time he sent one of his relatives weeping to the Admiral to console him, saying that they should not be upset or distressed because he would give him everything he had. The Admiral assures the Monarchs that nowhere in Castile would such good care have been taken about everything that not a lace was missing ... they are (says the Admiral) so loving a people and so lacking in cupidity and so willing to do anything, that I assure Your Highnesses that I believe that there are no better people in the world, and no better land. They love their neighbours as themselves, and have the softest speech in the world, and are docile and always laughing. They go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them. But Your Highnesses may believe that their dealings with each other are very good, and the king has a most marvellous bearing and such a sober manner that it is a pleasure to see it all... 31
Here we recognise many of the features that Columbus has already commended in the earlier case. The king's readiness to help is matched by an ability to command an immediate and effective response; like his people, he demonstrates a truly Christian love of his neighbour, while his bearing and sobriety do not prevent him from working alongside his people in person. 32 What is new, or at least, given greater emphasis, is the fellow-feeling which the king demonstrates on a number of occasions. Columbus had enjoyed the exchange of gifts with the earlier cacique because it gave them equal status. But the personal friendship which appears to grow up between Guacanagarí and Columbus is of a different order. Several times the king and his people weep for the Admiral's loss, and several times Guacanagarí puts a consoling arm around the stricken representative of the greatest nation on earth.
On the following morning, the offers of help and consolation are renewed, and the two men engage in an exchange of hospitality:
'the king of that land ... came to the caravel Niña where the Admiral was and almost in tears told him not to be upset because he would give him everything he had ... The king ate on board the caravel with the Admiral, and afterwards went ashore with him, where he did the Admiral great honour, and gave him a meal of two or three types of ajes and shrimps and game and other kinds of food which they had, and some of their bread which they call cassava. Then he took him to see some groves of trees near the houses, and a good thousand people, all naked, went with him. The chief now wore the tunic and gloves which the Admiral had given him, and was more excited by the gloves than by anything else he had given him. From his eating habits, his decency and delightful cleanliness, he showed clearly that he was of good birth. After eating, for they remained at table for a fair while, they brought certain herbs which he thoroughly rubbed into his hands; the Admiral thought that he did so to soften them, and they gave him water for his hands. 33
Although, once again, many of the details in this description are familiar from the earlier example, we may see numerous examples of Columbus's characteristic rhetoric of escalation. This man's entourage is twice that of the other's; this man reciprocates by offering hospitality himself; this man covers his nakedness with the gloves and the tunic, and thereby associates himself more closely with the civilized values of the Spaniards; this time there is no mention of language difficulties as the two men engage in a companionable sobremesa; and the meal concludes with an appropriate toilet, through which display of cleanliness the cacique aligns himself with godliness and good breeding.
Taken as a whole, the period which Columbus spent at Navidad until his departure on 4 January 1493, and his account of these difficult and at some times harrowing days, is marked by a strong note of companionship. Like many of his successors, especially Cortés and Pizarro, Columbus appears to enjoy the thought that he is able to deal on equal terms with men whom he represents as very significant leaders in their own right. As his estimation of their eminence increases, so does the satisfaction he appears to derive from the friendship and familiarity he establishes with them. The two aspects of his representation of native caciques are closely linked with his own self-esteem: on the one hand these men are made to display the majesty of the Christian monarch; on the other they are portrayed as warm and human in their dealings at the personal level. Such mingling of the awesome and the homely is as much a feature of other representations of new-world leaders as it is of the images of European royalty found nowadays in glossy magazines.
Whatever stature Columbus may have invested in the local chieftains of Española, it was clear to the Spaniards that, once they made contact with mainland Mexico, they were dealing with cultures, political systems and individual leaders of an altogether different stature. After the episode at Navidad, Columbus never again pretended that the individuals he encountered, whether in the Caribbean or on tierra firme, were cast in the mould of Mongol emperor or Christian monarch. But from the moment of Cortés's first contact with the Mexica empire in March 1519, the size and extent of Moctezuma's possessions and influence made recourse to the familiar commonplaces of kingship inevitable.
Cortés's account of Moctezuma is both more diffuse and more impressive than the brief sketches of the two caciques left by Columbus. For one thing, Cortés and Moctezuma were adversaries over a much longer period, from the initial third-party sparring on Easter Saturday 1519 to the Emperor's imperfectly explained death in custody on 30 June 1520. The long period during which Moctezuma's emissaries desperately tried to buy off the newcomers while Cortés continued to insist, politely but surely, that he had been sent to visit Moctezuma and was not leaving until he had done so, 34 caused a build-up of expectation which was not disappointed. When the Spaniards eventually entered the lake city of Tenochtitlan on 8 November 1519, Cortés's account gives full reign to the grandeur of the occasion:
Mutezuma came to greet us and with him some two hundred lords, all barefoot and dressed in a different costume, but also very rich in their way and more so than the others. They came in two columns, pressed very close to the walls of the street, which is very wide and beautiful and so straight that you can see from one end to the other. It is two-thirds of a league long and has on both sides very good and big houses, both dwellings and temples. Mutezuma came down the middle of this street with two chiefs, one on his right hand and the other on his left ... and they were all dressed alike except that Mutezuma wore sandals whereas the others went barefoot; and they held his arm on either side. When we met I dismounted and stepped forward to embrace him, but the two lords who were with him stopped me with their hands so that I should not touch him ... [there is an exchange of gifts] ... we reached a very large and beautiful house which had been very well prepared to accommodate us. There he took me by the hand and led me to a great room facing the courtyard through which we entered. And he bade me sit on a very rich throne, which he had had built for him and then left saying I should wait for him. After a short while, when all those of my company had been quartered, he returned with many and various treasures of gold and silver and featherwork, and as many as five or six thousand cotton garments, all very rich and woven and embroidered in various ways. And after he had given me these things he sat on another throne which they placed there next to the one on which I was sitting... (84-5) 35
For all its emphasis on ceremony, however, Cortés's description leads seamlessly into an account of Moctezuma as first equal, then subject. Even at this early stage of their relationship, Cortés appears to have positioned Moctezuma both as god-like ruler and personal friend. This appearance is deceptive to an extent, because the text of the second carta relación was not composed until the end of October 1520, that is, until after Cortés had gained control of the city and had lost it again during the noche triste. 36 What we now read as vivid reportage was in fact written in relatively tranquil hindsight from a safe refuge of Segura de la Frontera, as Cortés planned the recapture of Tenochtitlan which he would successfully undertake during the following spring.
The apparently decorative detail of the foregoing description is therefore subtly strategic. The entourage and the ritual of the greeting are already familiar, and the details of dress (Moctezuma wears sandals while the others go barefoot) and gesture (Moctezuma's arms are held, and Cortés is not allowed to approach him) are designed to impress on us his god-like status. But the first exchange of gifts (Cortés gives a necklace of pearls and cut glass, and Moctezuma responds with two necklaces, one of red snails' shells and another of eight golden shrimps) establishes first an equivalence between the two men, and then hints at a possible reversal of status (two necklaces for one). Then Cortés is invited to sit on Moctezuma's own 'very rich' throne while Moctezuma brings him more presents and sits beside him on another throne, one brought for the purpose and perhaps by implication secondary or auxiliary in nature. And then begins the process by which the Emperor turns his understanding of Aztec scripture, and perhaps his own personal fatalism, into a formal act of military surrender. The earlier quotation continues:
... and addressed me in the following way: "For a long time we have known from the writings of our ancestors that neither I, nor any of those who dwell in this land, are natives of it, but foreigners who came from very distant parts ... So because of the place from which you claim to come, namely, from where the sun rises, and the things you tell us of the great lord or king who sent you here, we believe and are certain that he is our natural lord, especially as you say that he has known of us for some time. So be assured that we shall obey you and hold you as our lord ..." (85-6) 37
Whether or not it happened that way, whether or not Moctezuma uttered anything remotely resembling those sentiments, Cortés has skilfully created in words a ceremony which simultaneously impresses us with a display of majesty and legitimises the transfer of title from the host to the guest. The twin thrones which are set up in Cortés's quarters suggest a fraternity which will soon give way to a puppet regime, and Moctezuma rounds off his speech of welcome with a gesture through which, for all its biblical resonance, 38 humility is turned into humiliation:
"I know that they have told you the walls of my houses are made of gold, and that the floor mats in my rooms and other things in my household are likewise of gold, and that I was, and claimed to be, a god; and many other things besides. The houses as you see are of stone and lime and clay." Then he raised his clothes and showed me his body, saying, as he grasped his arms and trunk with his hands, "See that I am of flesh and blood like you and all other men, and I am mortal and substantial." (86) 39
In a couple of hundred words, a god has been made man. This ambivalence in Cortés's account of his first meeting with Moctezuma runs like a thread throughout the narrative of the ensuing months. Again, the purpose may be strategic. Cortés kept Moctezuma nominally in power because it suited them both. Cortés wanted business as usual, while Moctezuma knew that his own position was weak, and that if he cooperated with the Spaniards they would shore him up. Cortés was also engaged on a systematic survey of the Aztec empire and an audit of Moctezuma's possessions. It therefore suited Cortés to portray Moctezuma as both a personable ally and an immensely wealthy man.
The interplay between the personal and the political is evident throughout Cortés's subsequent account of Moctezuma and his territories, and survives into a number of later texts which derive from Cortés, particularly Bernal Díaz's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, 40 written in a revisionist spirit at some time in the 1560s. Indeed, the more he distanced himself from Cortés, the more he identified with the Aztec emperor, and there are many vignettes of the kindnesses which the emperor did to the Spaniards and the affection in which they held him. Cortés's priorities were more pragmatic, and are evident from the extensive and detailed geographical and geological survey of the empire which immediately follows Moctezuma's admission of mortality cited above. Only later, after Moctezuma has made another public act of submission to the Spanish crown and communicated his supposed fatalism to his people with such emotion that none of the Spaniards who heard it remained unmoved, 41 does Cortés turn his attention to the grandeurs of the city, the marketplace, the temples and the rituals of Moctezuma's daily life.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a good deal of common ground between Cortés and Bernal Díaz, who gives over a whole chapter (91) to a voyeuristic tour of Moctezuma's private apartments, and between both of them and the classic accounts of the court of the Great Khan given by Mandeville and Marco Polo. For Cortés, the theme throughout is one of civilization and barbarity. The greatest marvel is not the rich cotton garments and bed linen, nor the models of everything Moctezuma owns, made of gold, silver, precious stones and feathers, but the fact that a barbarian should have such things. 42 The zoos, the collections of pets, the aviaries and fishponds, the pleasure houses, and the house of oddities, in which teams of curators looked after numerous specimens of deformed and monstrous men and women, dwarves and hunchbacks, clearly called to mind the conspicuous consumption and the cabinets de curiosités beloved of Renaissance princes. That Moctezuma should compile and enjoy such collections was clearly confusing for Cortés: they were encouraging signs of extreme wealth, but at the same time tokens of civility which challenged the value systems underlying his attempt to relieve Moctezuma of that wealth.
Bernal Díaz is very critical of this gold rush and the harm it did to the moral fibre of the Spaniards (chapter 105), but he and Cortés are as one in their fascination with the minutiae of Moctezuma's personal habits and court rituals, and it is perhaps in these aspects that we find the heaviest recourse to the formulaic descriptions which informed Columbus's attempts to categorise the leaders he met. As before, we are invited to note the handsome bearing and taciturn nature of the emperor, the size of his retinue (over 600 retainers precede the morning levée), the demeanour of the courtiers (all of whom avert their gaze at all times), his wardrobe (Moctezuma changes his clothes four times every day and never wears the same thing twice), his numerous wives and concubines (two wives and 'muchas mujeres por amigas'), 43 and, above all, the meals and associated rituals.
The service and consumption of food are central to both Cortés's and Bernal Díaz's accounts of the ceremonial at Moctezuma's court. Meals are served by 300-400 young men, a huge variety of dishes is provided at every meal, and each dish is kept hot on its own brazier. When the emperor eats he does so behind a richly decorated wooden screen, attended by five or six elders, who sit slightly apart from him, and a head attendant who serves the food. Before and after the meal water for washing is brought by four serving girls, and a towel, which is never re-used, as are the dishes from which the emperor eats. What he eats and drinks he takes sparingly, and is careful to ensure that his counsellors, entertainers and guards are properly attended to.
Cortés comments that no sultan or other infidel to his knowledge has such a large number of elaborate ceremonies at this court, 44 a remark which tends to suggest that accounts of court ceremony were perhaps taken seriously as indicators of the relative status of foreign princes. If so, Cortés's readers, perhaps his own Emperor or his civil servants in Europe, would have been struck by the comparisons with Marco Polo's descriptions of the Great Khan: the four wives and many concubines (100-1), the gardens, collections of animals, fishponds and arboretums (104), the banquets and the 40,000 guests (112-14), and the 12,000 guards whom he employs 'not out of fear of any man but in token of his sovereignty' (112).
What is missing from this, however, is any sense of Moctezuma's ability as a ruler. 45 As with Columbus, Cortés takes for granted that the régime with which he is dealing is stable and, to an extent, legitimate. Moctezuma's role was simply to possess a great empire and play the part of a willing and cooperative subject. Although Cortés was clearly aware that the Mexica had only comparatively recently displaced earlier inhabitants of the region, and that their tenure of the territory was contested by other tribes, some of whom had fought alongside Cortés and would do so again, Cortés shows no interest in Moctezuma's prowess as a military or political leader, or in his ability to maintain the status quo on Cortés's behalf. As far as Cortés is concerned, he had taken on a going concern in whose stability he trusted, give or take a few minor revolts which were swiftly dealt with. Events were soon to show that the political system and the leadership on which Cortés relied would be found wanting. In consequence, we witness a shift in Spanish perceptions, away from the leader as a kind of ceremonial keystone, a god- like creature presiding over a well-ordered, benign and prosperous state, towards a much more down-to- earth view of leadership as a role which requires political and military skills to manage and defend a state which is in constant turmoil.
This realisation quickly dawned on Cortés on his return to Tenochtitlan from a brief expedition to deal with the threat posed by Pánfilo de Narváez down at the coast. During his absence, the Spaniards under Alvarado had killed a number of celebrants during a religious festival and Cortés returned to find the Mexica in open revolt. He made no secret of his anger with Alvarado, but Bernal Díaz also records an imperious display of bad manners towards Moctezuma (248), which seems to suggest that he blamed the emperor either for the uprising, or for not being able to repress the revolt, or both. In any event, a few days later and at Cortés's request, Moctezuma vainly tried to quell the uprising by appealing to his people from a rooftop. He was stoned for his pains and died shortly afterwards, to the general distress of Cortés and his men. 46 It was now clear that the order and stability which Moctezuma appeared to represent had gone for good, and a new generation had emerged to lead the Mexica against the Spaniards. Within a few weeks the succession had gone to Moctezuma's nephew, Cuauhtémoc, who was responsible for the rout of the Noche Triste (30 June 1520), and the three months of resistance during the siege of Tenochtitlan in 1521.
Cortés has little to say directly about Cuauhtémoc, although his views of his adversary are clear from the long and gruelling account of the siege which dominates the third carta relación. Cortés's many attempts to negotiate a surrender were constantly frustrated by a master tactician who used any respite in the fighting to re-group his forces and redouble his resistance. On more than one occasion Cuauhtémoc simply failed to show up to a parley he had himself requested, and no amount of persuasion would induce him to stop fighting against all odds. Cortés's concealed admiration for a man whose determination grew stronger as his position grew weaker is evident. After 75 days' fighting, and with the city reduced to rubble, Cuauhtémoc was arrested while trying to make good his escape in a canoe, and brought before Cortés to take part in a small ceremony imbued with mythical resonance:
As I had no desire to treat Guatimucín harshly, I asked him to be seated, whereupon he came up to me and, speaking in his language, said that he had done all he was bound to do to defend his own person and his people, so that now they were reduced to this sad state, and I might do with him as I pleased. Then he placed his hand upon a dagger of mine and asked me to kill him with it; but I reassured him saying that he need fear nothing. (264-5) 47
The great general needs to know not only how to fight, but how to surrender. His resistance has been total, even down to his refusal to speak the language of the enemy, and he has given his all. Death is the only honourable thing left to him. But even this glorious gesture can be trumped. The victorious general must also know how to win, with dignity, and clemency. And so these two great figures of history play their parts in an oddly Corinthian ritual worthy in its way of the surrender of Granada -so often alluded to by Columbus-, or of Breda -so magnificently commemorated by Velázquez-, or any number of other equally uplifting examples of a successful end to a bloody campaign. Cortés, of course, lived to regret his act of clemency and was reduced to hanging Cuauhtémoc on trumped-up charges during the expedition to Honduras in 1526, a reversion to realpolitik which Bernal Díaz condemned as unjust and unseemly. 48
Issues of realpolitik and seemliness are also prominent in the last of the great one-to-one encounters of the Spanish conquest, that between Francisco Pizarro and the Inca leader Atahualpa. In many ways, the Spanish experience in Peru repeated features of the campaign in Mexico. Once again, the Spaniards encountered a once-great civilization now seriously weakened, this time by the bitter feud between the half brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa which followed the death of Huayna Capac in 1525. Although questions could be and were asked about the legitimacy of the Mexica claim to the lake and its surrounding territories, there had been little doubt about Moctezuma's own claim to the throne. Atahualpa's claim, in contrast, was based on the capture and subsequent execution of Huáscar, with all the questionable legitimacy that this entailed. From the moment of Pizarro's arrival in Peru in 1532, to the execution of Atahualpa on 29 August 1533, it was clear to the Spaniards that they were facing formidable resistance from a skilful and determined, not to say cruel and cunning, opponent.
Unlike Columbus and Cortés, Pizarro did not leave a personal account of the campaign against Atahualpa, but there are several reports by other eye-witnesses, which present a complex and shifting set of images of the Inca leader. 49 Shortage of space prevents a detailed discussion of the many versions of the conquest of Peru, but one account is particularly interesting for the way it dwells on aspects of the Inca which are not mentioned in other, more operational, reports. The text in question is the recently discovered Descubrimiento y conquista del Perú, which forms the lost third part of the Crónica del Perú by Pedro de Cieza de León. 50 Although not himself an eye-witness, Cieza provides a detailed, almost theatrical account of the negotiations which took place at Cajamarca on 15 November 1532 and which marked the opening of the final phase of the campaign. Pizarro sent Hernando de Soto with an interpreter and 24 horsemen to visit Atahualpa in his camp and gauge his military strength and frame of mind. The impression given is one of almost classical conformity to type. Atahualpa is seated on a rich throne ('asiento rico', 150), manifesting a grave and dignified demeanour ('gentil denuedo y gravedad, tanto, que bien representaba su dignidad'). Neither Soto nor any of his men dismount during the meeting, and Atahualpa matches their discourtesy by declining to answer, or by not answering directly.
Soto tries to disturb the studied calm of Atahualpa's response by making his horse rear up so close that the breeze ruffles the fringe of the llautu, the crown of fine coloured wool which covered his forehead. Atahualpa remained so serene and unmoved, Cieza writes, that one might have thought that he had spent his whole life breaking horses. 51 But forty or so of Atahualpa's men were unable to maintain such indifference and were put to death as a punishment for flinching. On their return to the Spanish camp, Soto and Hernando Pizarro reported on what they had seen: Atahualpa had the bearing of a great prince; he had many men, all well armed; and a will to take war and not give peace. 52
The weakness shown by his men in flinching in the face of the Spaniards' rearing horses gives Atahualpa the key to a trap which he intended to set for Pizarro. In a slow and measured speech ('llena de pausa', 152) Atahualpa tells his men how he intends to deceive Pizarro with cunning ('pensaba engañarlos sutilmente'). He plans to pretend that the incas are so afraid of the horses and dogs that they will only meet the Spaniards if their animals are tethered. With the Christians' most potent weapon disarmed, Atahualpa's forces will be able to attack from hidden positions and destroy the enemy at will. Pizarro, of course, had his own plans for an ambush, which in the event proved more effective, and the Inca leader was overwhelmed and captured while many of his forces were slaughtered. Although other accounts record that the Spaniards were suspicious of the request to keep the horses and dogs away from the allegedly timid native warriors, Cieza's account is unusual in attributing to Atahualpa an explicit intention to deceive ('fingiendo'). The consistent train of thought and action, from a display of weakness, an exemplary punishment of the men showing that weakness, then an attempt to spring a trap based on that initial show of weakness, makes Cieza's account of Atahualpa's cunning particularly convincing.
The fact that both leaders were preparing to deceive each other into an ambush raises an important question of honesty and honourable dealing in politics and warfare, a question which is put in a much sharper form once Cieza moves on to discuss the issues surrounding Atahualpa's ransom. In exchange for an undertaking that he will be allowed to go free, Atahualpa agrees to fill a large house with gold. Cieza comments that the Spaniards did not take the agreement seriously, thinking that the Inca would find it impossible to fulfil, but the language he uses makes it clear that he at least, as narrator, views this undertaking as a promise, a giving of his word. 53 When Atalhualpa and his men fulfil the promise, and the ransom is collected, Pizarro is put in a difficult position, brilliantly dramatised by Peter Shaffer in his play The Royal Hunt of the Sun. When Pizarro tries to wriggle out of the agreement, Atahualpa challenges him: 'You gave a word'. To which Pizarro can only reply: 'And will keep it!...Only not now. Not today.' 54 And the upshot is that while he is technically a free man, 'for the welfare of the country, he will remain for the moment as guest of the army.'
All of the contemporary accounts of these events, in their different ways, make it clear that Pizarro was helped out of this impasse by the fabrication of charges against Atahualpa of fomenting rebellion. Cieza is clear about the unjustness of the charges 55 and makes his Atahualpa reply, in a few classically grave and wise words, that the incas never lied and had never failed to tell the truth, and that not only did his men comply with his orders, but the very leaves on the trees would not move without his consent. 56 These are fine words, but they are given an edge by the fact that Atahualpa has already, in Cieza's account, admitted to deception in the preparation of the ambush. His assertion that he never lies becomes, in the context, an attitude which is struck in order to mask what is in effect a strategic lie. The resulting image of the Inca is at once more ambivalent and perhaps more appreciative than some of the representations we have seen of other leaders from earlier writers. Atahualpa can play two roles equally well: that of the ceremonial monarch, with the gravitas, the entourage and the ceremony; and that of the cunning and unprincipled commander who will use every strategem and every trick to gain an advantage.
In the final analysis, however, Atahualpa more than met his match. Pizarro turned out to be not only a better military strategist, but an even more unprincipled general. In spite of the squirming Peter Shaffer puts him through in the play, in life Pizarro had no qualms about learning from Cortés and Cuauhtémoc: it made no sense to take as a prisoner a man who was bound to become a focus of resistance. To achieve the greater purpose, he was prepared to do what no honourable Spaniard, or inca, would ever do, to break his word. And in this respect he could have called as a precedent, assuming he had access to it, the advice of a more contemporary authority on leadership, Machiavelli:
Everyone realizes how praiseworthy it is for a prince to honour his word and to be straightforward rather than crafty in his dealings; none the less contemporary experience shows that princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles ... a prudent ruler cannot, and must not, honour his word when it places him at a disadvantage... 57
Pizarro clearly met these criteria, but so too, in Cieza's account, did Atahualpa, and the image of the new-world leader which emerges is the more complex and more convincing because of it. It seems clear that, by the 1530s, Spanish chroniclers and writers about the New World had thrown off the classic, exotic templates of kingship inherited from writers like Mandeville and Marco Polo, and had begun to see their adversaries in a more contemporary guise, as practitioners of statecraft in a recognisably European mould.
|1.||This paper was originally given at a one-day conference on 'The Self and the Other: European Overseas Expansion in Renaissance Literature' held at the Institute of Romance Studies on 7 March 1997.|
|2.||Tzvetan Todorov, La conquête de l'Amérique: La question de l'autre (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1982).|
|3.||Santa Arias, 'Las Casas's representation of the Other(s)', in Early Images of the Americas, ed. Jerry M. Williams and Robert E. Lewis (Tucson and London: University of Arizona Press, 1993), 163-79. The reference to Elliott is to 'Renaissance Europe and America: A blunted impact?' in Fredi Chiappelli, ed., First Images of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976). Elliott had previously described the impact as 'uncertain', in The Old World and the New. 1492-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), chapter 1.|
|4.||Elliott, The Old World and the New, 19-20.|
|5.||The term 'Journal' or Diario is used to describe the MS summary of the log book presented to Ferdinand and Isabel by Columbus on his return from the first voyage in 1493. Both the original and the only copy known to have been made of it have been lost. The 54,000-word summary was made by Bartolomé de las Casas when he had access to the document at some time during the 1520s, and it includes passages totalling some 11,000 words which appear to be verbatim quotation from Columbus's original. See Christopher Columbus, The Journal of the First Voyage, ed. B.W. Ife (Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1991), viii-xiii. The reliability of the Diario has been called into question by a number of writers, notably David Henige, In Search of Columbus: The Sources for the First Voyage (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1991) and Margarita Zamora, Reading Columbus, (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1993).|
|6.||William D. Phillips, Jr. and Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), especially chapters 1-4.|
|7.||Columbus probably has in mind Kublai Khan (1215-94), grandson of Genghis Khan and first Mongol Emperor of China.|
|8.||'...por la informaçión que yo avía dado a Vuestras Altezas de las tierras de Yndia y de un prínçipe que es llamado Gran Can, que quiere dezir en nuestro romançe Rey de los Reyes, cómo muchas vezes él y sus anteçessores avían enbiado a Roma a pedir doctores en nuestra sancta fe...Vuestras Altezas como cathólicos cristianos y prínçipes amadores de la sancta fe cristiana y acreçentadores della, y enemigos de la secta de Mahoma y de todas ydolatrías y heregías, pensaron de embiarme a mí, Cristóval Colón, a las dichas partidas de Yndia para ver los dichos prínçipes y los pueblos y las tierras y la disposiçión dellas y de todo y la manera que se pudiera tener para la conversión dellas a nuestra sancta fe...' Ife, Journal, 2,3. All subsequent references are to this edition. Here and elsewhere italic text indicates sections of the Journal which Las Casas attributed to Columbus verbatim.|
|9.||The two most likely sources for such a description would have been John Mandeville and Marco Polo. Mandeville's Travels, probably originally written in French, began to circulate widely in Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century. In spite of its largely literary origins, the book was commonly used as a source of hard geographical data. For an account of its origins and dissemination, see the Introduction to the translation by C.W.R.D. Moseley (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983) 9-39. Chapters 23-26 deal with the Great Khan. Marco Polo's Travels were composed, probably with the aid of a ghost writer, Rustichello of Pisa, soon after his return from the Far East in 1292. Although Columbus's annotated copy of a Latin edition of 1485 survives, it is now generally accepted that he did not acquire the volume until 1497. See El libro de Marco Polo, ed. and trans. Juan Gil (Madrid: Alianza, 1992). Book II (pp 67-130) is largely dedicated to the Great Khan.|
|10.||Las Casas comments that Columbus did not really know what these words meant: 'Until then the Admiral had not been able to understand whether by this [cacique] they mean 'king' or 'governor'. They also use another word for lord, 'nitayno'. He did not know if they used it for 'nobleman' or 'governor' or 'judge' (23.12.1492). 'Hasta entonçes no avía podido entender el Almirante si lo dizen por rey o por governador. También dizen otro nombre por grande que llaman 'nitayno': no sabía si lo dezían por hidalgo o governador o juez' (154,155). Las Casas noted in the margin of his summary that nitayno meant 'nobleman', 'prinçipal y señor después del rey, como grande del reyno'. Columbus's assessment of the importance of the cacique was not far wrong since this was a heavily stratified society in which succession was hereditary by matrilineal descent. There were first and second rank caciques, of which the second rank were chiefs of districts. See Carl Ortwin Sauer, The Early Spanish Main (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966), 50.|
|11.||The etymology of this name is twice given in Marco Polo, in Book I, chapter 2 and Book II, chapter I. See Gil, El libro de Marco Polo, 10,67. Columbus also noted this meaning in a marginal note to chapter XXVII of his copy of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum by Aeneas Silvius (Pope Pius II). In principle, Gil accepts that this could indicate that Columbus knew something of the contents of Marco Polo's book before 1492, but argues that 'se trata de una explicación tan banal que Colón pudo hallarla en cualquiera de sus fuentes; sin ir más lejos, en la carta de Toscanelli' (xxxix).|
|12.||'Dióles ynstruçión de cómo avían de preguntar por el rey de aquella tierra y lo que le avían de hablar de partes de los Reyes de Castilla...' (66,67). Because Ferdinand and Isabel were a husband and wife team, the English phrase '[Catholic] Monarchs' is preferred to 'Kings'.|
|13.||'...los llevaron de braços los más honrrados del pueblo a la casa principal, y diéronles dos sillas en que se assentaron, y ellos todos se assentaron en el suelo en derredor dellos' (70,71).|
|14.||'Visto cómo no tenían recaudo de çiudad se bolvieron...Vino, enpero, con ellos un principal del pueblo y un su hijo y un hombre suyo' (72,73).|
|15.||'Hallaron muchas poblazones y gente sin numero, mas no cosa de gran rregimiento,' in Columbus's letter to the Catholic Monarchs dated 4 March 1493. See B.W. Ife, Letters from America. Columbus's First Accounts of the 1492 Voyage (London: King's College London School of Humanities, 1992), 26,27. The letter to Luis de Santángel, dated 14 March 1493, makes the same point in much the same words, except that the 'poblazones' are described as 'poblaciones pequeñas' (46,47).|
|16.||'tenía un ayo viejo y otros consejeros que le consejavan y respondían, y que él hablava muy pocas palabras' (130).|
|17.||'los quales dixeron que venían con el rey más de dozientos hombres, y que lo trayan en unas andas quatro hombres y era moço como arriba se dixo. Oy estando el Almirante comiendo debaxo del castillo llegó a la nao con toda su gente. Y dize el Almirante a los Reyes: Sin duda pareçiera bien a Vuestras Altezas su estado y acatamiento que todos le tienen puesto que todos andan desnudos. El así como entró en la nao halló que estava comiendo a la mesa debaxo del castillo de popa y él a buen andar se vino a sentar a par de mí, y no me quiso dar lugar que yo me saliese a él ni me levantase de la mesa, salvo que yo comiese. Yo pensé que él ternía a bien de comer de nuestras viandas; mandé luego traerle cosas que él comiesse. Y quando entró debaxo del castillo hizo señas con la mano que todos los suyos quedasen fuera y así lo hizieron con la mayor priesa y acatamiento del mundo y se assentaron todos en la cubierta, salvo dos hombres de una edad madura que yo estimé por sus consejeros y ayo, que vinieron y se assentaron a sus pies. Y de las viandas que yo le puse delante, tomava de cada una tanto como se toma para hazer la salva, y después luego lo demás enbiávalo a los suyos y todos comían della y así hizo en el bever que solamente llegava a la boca y después así lo dava a los otros, y todo con un estado maravilloso y muy pocas palabras y aquellas que él dezía, según yo podía entender, eran muy assentadas y de seso y aquellos dos le miravan a la boca y hablavan por él y con él y con mucho acatamiento. Después de comido un escudero traya un çinto que es proprio como los de Castilla en la hechura, salvo que es de otra obra, que él tomó y me lo dio, y dos pedaços de oro labrados que eran muy delgados, que creo que aquí alcançan poco de él, puesto que tengo que están muy vezinos de donde naçe y ay mucho. Yo vide que le agradava un arambel que yo tenía sobre mi cama. Yo se lo di y unas cuentas muy buenas de ámbar que yo traya al pescueço, y unos çapatos colorados, y una almarraxa de agua de azahar de que quedó tan contento que fue maravilla. Y él y su ayo y consejeros llevan grande pena porque no me entendían ni yo a ellos. Con todo le cognoscí que me dixo, que si me compliese algo de aquí, que toda la ysla estava a mi mandar' (136-9).|
|18.||D. Cannadine and S. Price, eds., Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987): '...the rituals of rulers, the 'symbolics of power', are not mere incidental ephemera, but are central to the structure and working of any society' ... 'pomp is a visible form of power' (3,17).|
|19.||Anne J. Duggan, ed. Kings and Kingship in Medieval Europe (London: King's College London Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, 1993): 'For the whole of the Middle Ages -and indeed until the French Revolution- monarchy remained the predominant (though of course not the only) form of polity for the many peoples of Europe. But the rule of one took many forms, from the small 'family' or clan kingdoms of early Ireland to the imperial lordship of the German emperors, and no single pattern prevailed, although all were Christian and all shared a common inheritance of image and symbol from the Old Testament' (xiii).|
|20.||Jacques Le Goff, 'Le roi dans l'occident médiéval: charactères originaux', in Duggan, Kings and Kingship, 1-40: 'Le roi médiéval m'apparaît essentiellement comme un roi monarque, une roi chrétien, un roi noble. Il y a, me semble-t-il, une unicité du pouvoir royal dans l'Occident médiéval. Les royaumes du Moyen Age ont à leur tête un roi unique et en tout cas seul supérieur (2-3) ... Le caractère du roi chrétien est sans doute l'aspect le plus nouveau et le plus important du roi médiéval...Le roi est l'image de Dieu: rex imago Dei (3) ... Selon Emile Benveniste la royauté indo-européenne se définit le long de deux lignes. La première se modèle sur le mot rex qui est celui qui étend en ligne droite garantissant à la fois une extension et une rectitude ... Rex a recte regendo (5) ... Mais aussi une seconde voie se développe à partir du terme kuni qui signifie en gothique race, famille, qui donnera les mots king et König et s'apparente au mot latin gens. C'est l'homme bien né, l'homme noble et le roi médiéval recueille aussi cet héritage germain du sang. Il est défini non seulement par une bonne famille mais aussi en terme d'aristocratie et de noblesse' (6).|
|21.||One of the most influential models of regal behaviour was Deuteronomy 17, where self-denial and modesty are among the most important requirements of a king: 'But he shall not multiply horses to himself ... Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold' (vv 16-17).|
|22.||Among the functions of the king, including that of making laws and fighting wars, Le Goff lists the 'fonction de prospérité' ('Le roi' in Duggan, Kings and Kingship, 14). It is the king's duty to provide for his people, and we see the cacique doing this by ensuring that his men do not go without.|
|23.||Kornél Szovák, 'The image of the ideal king in twelfth-century Hungary', in Duggan, Kings and Kingship, 241-64.|
|24.||'Y después se sabrán los benefiçios y se trabajará de hazer todos estos pueblos cristianos, porque de ligero se hará, porque ellos no tienen secta ninguna ni son ydólatras' (27.11); 'And later the benefits will become known and an effort will be made to make all these people Christians, for it will easily be done because they have no religion and are not idolaters' (100,101).|
|25.||Gil, Libro, II.6, p. 71; Latham, Travels, p. 97.|
|26.||'el rey de aquella ysla Española (dize el Almirante)' (136).|
|27.||Mandeville, Travels, ed. Moseley, 141-144; The Travels of Marco Polo, trans. Ronald Latham (London: The Folio Society, 1968), 112-4.|
|28.||'Il sait d'avance ce qu'il va trouver; l'expérience est là pour illustrer une vérité qu'on possède, non pour être interrogé, selon les règles préétablies, en vue d'une recherche de la vérité ... L'interprétation des signes de la nature que pratique Colon est déterminée par le résultat auquel il lui faut aboutir.' Todorov, Conquête, 25,29.|
|29.||'...ayant appris le mot indien 'cacique', il cherche moins à savoir ce qu'il signifie dans la hiérarchie, conventionnelle et relative, des Indiens, que de voir à quel mot espagnol exactement il correspond, comme s'il allait de soi que les Indiens établissent les mêmes distinctions que les Espagnols; comme si l'usage espagnol n'était pas une convention parmi d'autres, mais l'état naturel des choses...' Todorov, Conquête, 35.|
|30.||Sauer, Early Spanish Main, 47. It is not clear whether Columbus himself had referred to Guacanagarí by name in the original text of the Diario, or whether Las Casas provided this information with hindsight (as he had done with the name of the landfall island, Guanahaní). The first mention of the name comes in Las Casas's marginal note to the entry for 22 December. The name does not appear in any of the verbatim sections of the Journal, and he is simply referred to as rey in both of the 1493 letters (Ife, Letters from America, 28,29,56,57).|
|31.||'De quando en quando enbiava uno de sus parientes al Almirante llorando a lo consolar, diziendo que no rescibiese pena ni enojo que él le daría quanto tuviese. Çertifica el Almirante a los Reyes que en ninguna parte de Castilla tan buen recaudo en todas las cosas se pudiera poner sin faltar un agujeta ... tanto (dize el Almirante) son gente de amor y sin cudiçia y convenibles para toda cosa, que certifico a Vuestras Altezas que en el mundo creo que no ay mejor gente ni mejor tierra. Ellos aman a sus próximos como a sí mismos, y tienen una habla la más dulçe del mundo, y mansa y siempre con risa. Ellos andan desnudos, hombres y mugeres, como sus madres los parieron. Mas crean Vuestras Altezas que entre sí tienen costumbres muy buenas, y el rey muy maravilloso estado de una çierta manera tan continente que es plazer de verlo todo...' (160,161).|
|32.||'...his heart be not lifted up above his brethren' (Deuteronomy 17.20).|
|33.||'Oy a salir del sol vino el rey de aquella tierra ... a la caravela Niña donde estava el Almirante y quasi llorando le dixo que no tuviese pena que él le daría quanto tenía ... El rey comió en la caravela con el Almirante, y después salió con él en tierra, donde hizo al Almirante mucha honrra, y le dio colaçión de dos o tres maneras de ajes y con camarones y caça y otras viandas que ellos tenían y de su pan que llamavan caçabi. Dende lo llevó a ver unas verduras de árboles junto a las casas, y andavan con él bien mill personas, todos desnudos. El señor ya traya camisa y guantes que el Almirante le avía dado, y por los guantes hizo mayor fiesta que por cosa de las que le dio. En su comer con su honestidad y hermosa manera de limpieza, se mostrava bien ser de linaje. Después de aver comido que tardó buen rato estar a la mesa, truxeron çiertas yervas con que se fregó mucho las manos; creyó el Almirante que lo hazía para ablandarlas, y diéro[n]lo aguamanos' (160-163).|
|34.||'...y a su embajador le respondí que si en mi mano fuera volverme que yo lo hiciese por hacer plazer a Mutezuma; pero que yo había venido en esta tierra por mandado de vuestra majestad, y de la principal cosa que de ella me mandó le hiciese relación, fue del dicho Mutezuma y de aquella su gran ciudad...' 'To his embassy I replied that were it in my power to return I would do so to please Mutezuma, but that I had come to this land by Your Majesty's commands, and the principal thing of which I had been ordered to give an account was of Mutezuma and his great city.' Hernán Cortés, Cartas de relación (Mexico: Editorial Porrúa, 1973), 48; Letters from Mexico, trans. A.R. Pagden (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), 79- 80. All subsequent references are to these editions.|
|35.||'...nos salió a recibir aquel señor Mutezuma con hasta doscientos señores, todos descalzos y vestidos de otra librea o manera de ropa asimismo bien rica a su uso, y más que la de los otros, y venían en dos procesiones muy arrimados a las paredes de la calle, que es muy ancha y muy hermosa y derecha, que de un cabo se parece el otro y tiene dos tercios de legua, y de la una parte y de la otra muy buenas y grandes casas, así de aposentamientos como de mezquitas, y el dicho Mutezuma venía por medio de la calle con dos señores, el uno a la mano derecha y el otro a la izquierda ... todos tres vestidos de una manera, excepto el Mutezuma que iba calzado, y los otros dos señores descalzos; cada uno lo llevaba de su brazo, y como nos juntamos, yo me apeé y le fui a abrazar solo, y aquellos dos señores que con él iban, me detuvieron con las manos para que no le tocase ... hasta llegar a una muy grande y hermosa casa que él tenía para nos aposentar, bien aderezada. Y allí me tomó de la mano y me llevó a una gran sala que estaba frontera del patio por donde entramos, y allí me hizo sentar en un estrado muy rico que para él lo tenía mandado hacer, y me dijo que le esperase allí, y él se fue. Y dende a poco rato, ya que toda la gente de mi compañía estaba aposentada, volvió con muchas y diversas joyas de oro y plata, y plumajes, y con hasta cinco o seis mil piezas de ropa de algodón, muy ricas y de diversas maneras tejidas y labradas, y después de me las haber dado, se sentó en otro estrado que luego le hicieron allí junto con el otro donde yo estaba; y sentado, propuso en esta manera...' (51-2)|
|36.||The second letter was written from memory after the destruction of all documentary evidence during the Spaniards' rout from the city during the night of 30 June 1520: 'I beg Your Highness to forgive me if I do not record all that is necessary and am uncertain of time and details ... for in a certain misfortune which has recently befallen me, of which I shall render complete account later in this report, I lost all the proceedings and agreements I made with the natives of these lands, and many other things besides.' (49-50) '...suplico a vuestra alteza me mande perdonar si todo lo necesario no contare, el cuándo y cómo muy cierto ... porque en cierto infortunio ahora nuevamente acaecido, de que adelante en el proceso a vuestra alteza daré entera cuenta, se me perdieron todas las escrituras y autos que con los naturales de estas tierras yo he hecho, y otras muchas cosas.' (31) The fact that the events leading up to the loss of the city are narrated after that event makes the whole of the second letter open to the charge that it is a retrospective justification of the siege which Cortés is about to embark on; once Moctezuma had (in Cortés's view) voluntarily surrendered the city to the Spaniards, the Mexica were unable to avoid being cast as outlaws once they attempted to win it back.|
|37.||'Muchos días ha que por nuestras escrituras tenemos de nuestros antepasados noticia que yo ni todos los que en esta tierra habitamos no somos naturales de ella sino extranjeros, y venidos a ella de partes muy extrañas ... y según de la parte que vos decís que venís, que es a do sale el sol y las cosas que decís de ese gran señor o rey que acá os envió, creemos y tenemos por cierto, él sea nuestro señor natural, en especial que nos decís que él ha muchos días que tenía noticia de nosotros; y por tanto, vos sed cierto que os obedeceremos y tendremos por señor...' (52)|
|38.||Anthony Pagden comments at length on this speech and a subsequent one by Moctezuma, arguing convincingly that he could never have held the views attributed to him by Cortés, and pointing out their mythopoeic origin (Cortés, Letters, 467-9).|
|39.||'"...los cuales sé que también os han dicho que yo tenía las casas con las paredes de oro y que las esteras de mis estrados y otras cosas de mi servicio eran asimismo de oro, y que yo era y me hacía dios y otras muchas cosas. Las casas ya las véis que son de piedra y cal y tierra"; y entonces alzó las vestiduras y me mostró el cuerpo diciendo: "A mí véisme aquí que soy de carne y hueso como vos y como cada uno, y que mortal y palpable..."' (52)|
|40.||ed. Joaquín Ramírez Cabañas (Mexico: Editorial Porrúa, 1974). All subsequent references are to this edition, and to the partial translation by J.M. Cohen, The Conquest of New Spain (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963).|
|41.||'...que no había tal de los españoles que oyese el razonamiento, que no hubiese mucha compasión.' (60)|
|42.||'...¿qué más grandeza puede ser que un señor bárbaro como éste tuviese contrahechas de oro y plata y piedras y plumas, todas las cosas que debajo del cielo hay en su señorío...?' (66)|
|43.||Bernal Díaz, Historia verdadera, 166.|
|44.||'...ninguno de los soldanes ni otro ningún señor infiel de los que hasta ahora se tiene noticia, no creo que tantas ni tales ceremonias en su servicio tengan.' (68)|
|45.||In this respect compare Marco Polo's appreciation of the Great Khan's all-round ability: 'He won the lordship by his own valour and prowess and good sense...he showed himself a valiant soldier and a good commander.' (93 and passim)|
|46.||Bernal Díaz: 'Y Cortés lloró por él, y todos nuestros capitanes y soldados, y hombres hubo entre nosotros, de los que le conocíamos y tratábamos, de que fue tan llorado como si fuera nuestro padre, y no nos hemos de maravillar de ello viendo qué tan bueno era.' (243) 'Cortés and all of us captains and soldiers wept for him, and there was no one among us that knew him and had dealings with him who did not mourn him as if he were our father, which was not surprising, since he was so good.' (294) The lament is not just for the man himself, one feels, but for the loss of the empire which had been captured with such ease.|
|47.||'...el cual [Guatimucín], como le hice sentar, no mostrándole riguridad ninguna, llegóse a mí y díjome en su lengua que ya él había hecho todo lo que de su parte era obligado para defenderse a sí y a los suyos hasta venir en aquel estado, que ahora hiciese de él lo que yo quisiese; y puso la mano en un puñal que yo tenía, diciéndome que le diese de puñaladas y le matase. Y yo le animé y le dije que no tuviese temor ninguno...' (162)|
|48.||'Y fue esta muerte que les dieron muy injustamente, y pareció mal a todos los que íbamos.' (470)|
|49.||Raúl Porras Barrenechea published several of them in Las relaciones primitivas de la conquista del Perú (Lima, 1967), including that of Pizarro's secretary, Francisco de Xerez, and that by Cristóbal de Mena published anonymously in Seville in 1534. The former is available in an English translation by Clements R. Markham, Reports on the Discovery of Peru (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1872), together with other accounts by Miguel de Astete, Hernando Pizarro, and Pedro Sancho.|
|50.||The Parte primera de la chrónica del Perú was published in Seville, 1553. The second part did not appear until 1873, and the third part was published by Francesca Cantu in 1979. References are to the edition of Carmelo Sáenz de Santa María, Crónicas de América, 17 (Madrid: Historia 16, 1986).|
|51.||'Soto cogió la rienda a su caballo delante de Atabalipa, para que conociese qué cosa era, le hizo meter los pies y batallar con las manos y llegó tan junto de Atabalipa, que los bufidos que daba el caballo soplaban la borla que tenía en la frente, corona del reino. No se meneó Atabalipa, ni en el rostro se le conoció novedad, antes estuvo con tanta serenidad y buen semblante como si su vida toda hubiera gastado en domar potros.' (150)|
|52.||'...dijeron que Atabalipa tenía presencia de gran príncipe, y como tal se mostraba en sus cosas; la gente que estaba con él, mucha, todos bien armados, y él con voluntad de tomar guerra y no dar paz.' (151)|
|53.||'Tuvieron tan gran promesa por desatino, pareciéndoles imposible poderlo cumplir; mas tornaba a ratificarse en ello, afirmando que si le guardasen la postura, cumpliría la promesa sin cautela ni fraude.' (165)|
|54.||Peter Shaffer, The Royal Hunt of the Sun (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), 73.|
|55.||At the end of the account of Atahualpa's death, Cieza recounts with some satisfaction the sticky ends to which Pizarro, Almagro, Fray Vicente, Riquelme and Pero Sancho all subsequently came, an illustration of the proverb that 'matarás y matarte han', 'those that live by the sword, die by the sword.' (189)|
|56.||'...oía tales razones a Pizarro, respondiéndole pocas palabras, aunque muy graves y sentidas, diciendo ... que los incas nunca supieron mentir ni jamás dejaron de decir verdad ... y que no solamente los hombres cumplían lo que él mandaba, mas que las hojas de los árboles no se movían sin su consentimento.' (186)|
|57.||Niccol˜ Machiavelli, trans George Bull, The Prince (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), 54-5.|
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