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Unformatted text preview: Week 1 Encounter and Conquest 1-1. The Great Aztec Market, 1519. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a conqueror with Hernando Cortés’s expedition, describes the market of Tlatelolco, a subordinate city sharing the island in the middle of Lake Texcoco with the Mexica metropolis of Tenochtitlan, is a classic text of the conquest. Spaniards were amazed at the market’s size and its varied goods was also coupled with delight. The complex civilization of central Mexico was far different from the simple agricultural people of the Caribbean, where Spaniards sat for over a quarter century before encountering central Mexico’s huge populations, wealth, and political integration. On reaching the great market-place, escorted by the many caciques [native rulers] whom Moctezuma had assigned to us, we were astounded at the great number of people and the quantities of merchandise, and at the orderliness and good arrangements that prevailed, for we had never seen such a thing before. The chieftains who accompanied us pointed out everything. Every kind of merchandise was kept separate and had its fixed place marked for it. Let us begin with the dealers in gold, silver, and precious stones, feathers, cloaks, and embroidered goods, and male and female slaves who are also sold there. They bring as many slaves to be sold in that market as the Portuguese bring Blacks from Guinea. Some are brought there attached to long poles by means of collars around their necks to prevent them from escaping, but others are left loose. Next there are those who sold coarser cloth, and cotton goods and fabrics made of twisted thread, and there were chocolate merchants with their chocolate. In this way you could see every kind of merchandise to be found anywhere in New Spain, laid out in the same way as goods are laid out in my own district in Medina del Campo [Spain], a center of fairs, where each line of stalls has its own particular sort. So it was in this great market. There were those who sold sisal cloth and ropes and the sandals they wear on their feet, which are made from the same plant. All these were kept in one part of the market, in the place assigned to them, and in another part were skins of tigers [jaguars] and lions, otters, jackals, and deer, badgers, mountain cats, and other wild animals, some tanned and some untanned, and other classes of merchandise. There were sellers of kidney beans and sage and other vegetables and herbs in another place, and in yet another they were selling fowls, and birds with great wattles [turkeys], also rabbits, hares, deer, young ducks, little dogs, and other such creatures. Then there were the fruiterers; and the women who sold cooked food, flour and honey cake, and tripe, had their part of the market. Then came pottery of all kinds, from big water jars to little jugs, displayed in its own place, also honey, honey-paste, and other sweets like nougat. Elsewhere they sold timber too, boards, cradles, beams, blocks, and benches, all in a quarter of their own.benches, all in a quarter of their own....
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2011 for the course CH ST 1 taught by Professor Rojas during the Spring '11 term at UCSB.
- Spring '11