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Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

Updated Edition

Matthew Restall

Publication Date - 27 April 2021

ISBN: 9780197537299

272 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

An update of a popular work that takes on the myths of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, featuring a new afterword.


An update of a popular work that takes on the myths of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, featuring a new afterword.

Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest reveals how the Spanish invasions in the Americas have been conceived and presented, misrepresented and misunderstood, in the five centuries since Columbus first crossed the Atlantic.

This book is a unique and provocative synthesis of ideas and themes that were for generations debated or perpetuated without question in academic and popular circles. The 2003 edition became the foundation stone of a scholarly turn since called The New Conquest History. Each of the book's seven chapters describes one "myth," or one aspect of the Conquest that has been distorted or misrepresented, examines its roots, and explodes its fallacies and misconceptions. Using a wide array of primary and secondary sources, written in a scholarly but readable style, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest explains why Columbus did not set out to prove the world was round, the conquistadors were not soldiers, the native Americans did not take them for gods, Cortés did not have a unique vision of conquest procedure, and handfuls of vastly outnumbered Spaniards did not bring down great empires with stunning rapidity. Conquest realities were more complex--and far more fascinating--than conventional histories have related, and they featured a more diverse cast of protagonists-Spanish, Native American, and African. This updated edition of a key event in the history of the Americas critically examines the book's arguments, how they have held up, and why they prompted the rise of a New Conquest History.

New to this Edition

  • Features a new afterword


  • Offers a fresh account of the activities of the best-known conquistadors and explorers, including Columbus, Cortés, and Pizarro
  • Using a wide array of sources, historian Matthew Restall provides a richer and more nuanced account of a key event in the history of the Americas
  • Updated edition timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Mexico

About the Author(s)

Matthew Restall is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History, Women's Studies, and Anthropology and Director of Latin American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of numerous books, including Maya Conquistador, The Conquistadors: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012), and When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting That Changed History.


"Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest is an engaging and highly readable account of the history of the conquest of the Amerias."--Jennifer Jobb, Against the Current

"A daring revisionist critique.... Restall's provocative analysis, wide-ranging scholarship and lucid prose make this a stimulating contribution to the debate on one of history's great watersheds."--Publishers Weekly

"This is an important book. It should be read by all high school world history teachers, and by professors of the same....a powerful indictment of the myths that we all inadvertently rely on to explain a complex and distant period. It will undoubtedly stir up a discussion about the reality of these myths and what others might find in both popular and scholarly writing in this field, and others." --John F. Schwaller, American Historical Review

Table of Contents

    Introduction: The Lost Words of Bernal Diaz
    Ch 1 A Handful of Adventurers: The Myth of Exceptional Men
    Ch 2 Neither Paid Nor Forced: The Myth of the King's Army
    Ch 3 Invisible Warriors: The Myth of the White Conquistador
    Ch 4 Under the Lordship of the King: The Myth of Completion
    Ch 5 The Lost Words of La Malinche: The Myth of (Mis)Communication
    Ch 6 The Indians Are Coming to an End: The Myth of Native Desolation
    Ch 7 Apes and Men: The Myth of Superiority
    Epilogue: Cuauhtemoc's Betrayal

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