Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Conquest of New Spain” as Want to Read:
The Conquest of New Spain
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Conquest of New Spain

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,760 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
Whenever we fired our guns, the Indians gave great shouts and whistles, and threw up straw and earth so that we could not see what harm we had done them. Vivid, powerful and absorbing, this is a first-person account of one of the most startling military episodes in history: the overthrow of Montezuma s doomed Aztec Empire by the ruthless Hernan Cortes and his band of adven ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 412 pages
Published August 30th 1963 by Penguin Books (first published 1632)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Conquest of New Spain, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Conquest of New Spain

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan-Maat
When we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico, we were astounded. These great towns and cues and buildings rising from the water all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. It is not surprising therefore that I should write in this vein. It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describ ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The author started writing this when he was over 70, made his fair copy of it at age 76, and wrote a preliminary note for it at age 84. Five years later, he was dead.

Arguedas's "Deep Rivers" and Galeano's "Genesis (Memory of Fire 1)", which I recently read, both have an unmistakable bias against the Spanish conquistadores of the Americas during the 16th and 17th centuries. Here, for a change, I listen to one of these conquistadores, for the author Bernal Diaz del Castillo was a Spanish soldier w
...more
Christopher
Jan 01, 2013 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 4-0-plus
Whatever you heard about Cortés in grade school is probably true enough, but wow, the details are amazing.

Sure, Cortés might have been a deceitful, gold-hungry, womanizing, slave-taking, blood-soaked psychopath (and alleged poisoner), but that's part of what makes him a great character, because he was also a brilliant and charismatic velvet-glove-over-iron-fist diplomat, an incredibly savvy and calculating strategist, and a fervent Christian (lecturing people constantly on the Trinity and revere
...more
Juan
Nov 10, 2011 Juan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Escrito por Bernal Díaz del Castillo, uno de los soldados que participó en la conquista de México, “Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España” es una excelente fuente histórica de lo que ocurrió entre 1519 y 1521 cuando Hernán Cortés, desobediendo ordenes superiores, decidió comenzar la conquista de la América continental.
El libro no es fácil de leer, es muy extenso, está escrito en español antiguo y en un estilo pobre que tiende a ser repetitivo. Sin embargo es uno de los pocos libr
...more
karl
Mar 18, 2011 karl rated it liked it


This is a 2-volume English translation of Castillo’s memoirs centered on his years with Cortes’ expedition-invasion of Mexico and Mexico City in the 1519-21 period. Castillo was one of the 550 original conquistadors w/Cortes. In his later years he was an official in Guatemala. Castillo wrote his memoirs beginning in 1568 and he indicates towards the end of the book that he is one of 5 surviving original conquistadors.

The book approaches 1000 pages. It has 213 chapters. I read it on and off over
...more
Ed
Mar 29, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Wow. This book stands out as one of the most fascinating books that I can think of. The only thing I can fault it for are the doubts about its veracity. It certainly reads like an authentic account, and if it is, what an account. History was never so fascinating. I certainly enjoyed this book far more than A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and it comes across as far more accurate and nuanced.

The characters really come to life in this account. Cortés is captured as a magnificent,
...more
David
Jan 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it
The feats included in this book are the substance of legend. Apologists in the contemporary era revel in perpetuating the Black Legend with regard to the Spanish conquistadors — which is largely resultant of centuries of British propaganda in an age of competing empires — but little attention is given to heinous accounts of cannibalism and human sacrifice in pre-conquest Mexico. Granted, this was all going on during the height of the Inquisition, and so many of the writings and traditions of pre ...more
Michael Gerald
Aug 16, 2012 Michael Gerald rated it really liked it
Got this one from Instituto Cervantes in Manila. A good primary reference for the discovery, exploration, and conquest of the Americas by the Spanish conquistadores, written by one of the members of Hernan Cortes' expedition.

A great insight of this book is that while some of the Spanish conquistadores were no saints, the Aztecs were certainly no angels either. They often went to war with the purpose of capturing prisoners to be made into hundreds, even thousands, of human sacrifices for their su
...more
Michael Swenty
Jun 02, 2013 Michael Swenty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An early America historical first hand account must-read.
Barclay
Oct 26, 2008 Barclay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barclay W. Conrad
Book: "The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico 1517-1521" by Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Edited from the only exact copy of the original MS Published by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy 1956
Library of Congress No. 56-5758

This book was acquired from my Mother's estate after her death on August 10, 2008.

My interest in it was stimulated by the first-person narration of evidence that supports the origin of the "Book of Mormon", the book which was translated by Joseph Smith and published in
...more
Davie Mclean
Apr 15, 2009 Davie Mclean rated it it was amazing
this is a history lesson that stays with you long after you read it. bernal diaz's first hand account as a conquistador is intense and dramatic suspence filled epic, that will leave you breathless. his vivid description of his expedition with the spanish captain cortez in the settlement and pacification of what is now Mexico is action filled extravaganza which reads like an adventure novel. ancient civilations,undiscoverd world , secret chambers of treasure, villians , heros, heroines,. conquest ...more
Διόνυσος Ελευθέριος
Bernal Díaz del Castillo's Discovery and Conquest of Mexico is the remarkable chronicle of some of the earliest episodes of Europe's domination of the New World, all told by means of the eyewitness account of Castillo himself. It's a vivid portrayal that conveys as much the entirely justified anxieties of the Conquistadors as they enter and begin to gain supremacy over the cities of Mexico, as it conveys the tragedies faced by, and inflicted on, each side. It's an absolutely riveting tale. It's ...more
AskHistorians
One of the most popular and comprehensive primary sources on the Conquest, the work offers a first hand account of the Conquistador's campaign through Mexico and defeat of the Aztecs. There has been some academic debate as to whether or not Bernal Diaz was actually there - as much of the work has clearly been lifted from Gomara's historia - but that debate is (in my humble opinion) still in its infancy. Diaz's account will probably be the most interesting work to lay people and does offer a vivi ...more
Heather
Sep 09, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommended to Heather by: boyfriend!
Anthony read this book in college and recommended it to me. I read it during our flights to and from Iceland - and loved it! It gives a first hand account of Cortes and his conquest over the Aztec empire and the defeat of Montezuma. Translated from the diary of Bernal Diaz - a solider who accompanied Cortes - it creates vivid pictures and insight of the trials and successes of the Spanish.
Christina Packard
This was a slow 32 hour read on my Kindle. It was simply written of the 119 battle plus adventures. I read it because it was on the 1001 book list, but I do not see the ordinary pleasure reader to want to read this long account.
Raghavendra Karanth
Sep 23, 2010 Raghavendra Karanth rated it really liked it
Its getting repetitive towards the end.
Kyle Walter
Nov 10, 2016 Kyle Walter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Reading first hand accounts of historical moments in time is always extremely enlightening and eye opening. And horrifying. This book reads almost as the journal of an explorer on a different planet. My mind kept reading this as science fiction. Central America and the people that inhabited it, not to mention the architecture, buildings, cities, pyramids, towers, moats, causeways... it's all so alien.

Those people had a way of life so different than anywhere else. And now it's completely go
...more
Amit Sharma
Nov 28, 2016 Amit Sharma rated it really liked it
a fascinating account of the conquest. my heart goes out to the men on both sides who fought the war and saw destruction and hardships. Bernal Diaz is an excellent narrator even though I belive some meaning was lost in translation. The story seems a bit long somewhere in the middle but overall has nice flow and structure. I read it over a period of 3 months. I think it could have a little bias as it is told from the Spanish perspective but this is more or less the case with every narration. give ...more
Chazzy Patel
Mar 14, 2017 Chazzy Patel rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Bernal Diaz is a writer's hero :)
Somejuan
Jan 08, 2015 Somejuan rated it it was amazing
El trabajo titánico de Bernal Díaz del Castillo es un verdadero monumento cultural en la historia de México, y probablemente de toda la hispanidad, al relatar cómo fue el encuentro entre dos culturas diametralmente opuestas: los españoles, con una cosmovisión católica y occidental; y las distintas civilizaciones indígenas del México prehispánico (mexicas, mayas, tlaxcaltecas, etcétera), acostumbrados la mayoría de ellos, según nos dice Bernal, a practicar sacrificios humanos, el canibalismo y la ...more
TomF
Aug 18, 2015 TomF rated it really liked it
These remembrances of an ageing soldier trace the first real missionary plunges by the conquistadores into American shores.

Cortes serves as a great focal point for the enterprise he leads, hoarding whatever gold he can find (and later, whatever slaves he can brand), but also diving headlong into travails that would have staggered a flimsier man. Even with cavalry, cannons, crossbows and guns, it takes some balls to take on 30,000 men with only 400, for example, as a day-to-day event. Or to scutt
...more
Erica
Aug 18, 2013 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished the 376 page abridgment of Bernal Diaz del Castillo's "true" History of the Conquest of New Spain selected, edited and translated by David Carrasco. I stumbled across this book in a reference, an extended quote, from another book I was reading on the history of the feather (Feathers by Thor Hanson). A vivid description of the splendor of the aviaries in Tenochitlan, and their subsequent targeted destruction by burning by Cortés.

Though I didn't find either of the quotes in this se
...more
Scott
May 24, 2015 Scott rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating and ultimately disturbing historical account of events that are usually nearly glossed over in school. Hernan Cortes and his band of conquerors, including the author, at first appear to ave come in peace, only to ultimately slaughter the Aztecs in the name of Christ. They claimed to rescue women from being captured and raped by their enemies, only to take them for themselves. And they branded and enslaved their prisoners. As conquerors have always done, Cortes and his foll ...more
Heman
Jun 19, 2014 Heman rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Bernal Diaz gives a soldier's account of the conquest of Mexico. He has forgotten many details of the march through Yucatan as he wrote the account many years after the events and in his old age. Diaz repeats many mundane things about numerous battles in a robotic manner, so much so that even he confesses it is too repetitive. His narrative, even though put in the most positive light for the conquistadors, still betrays the greed and backstabbing ways of the Spaniards. It is incredible how despi ...more
Tom Meade
Jan 08, 2013 Tom Meade rated it really liked it
It's very difficult to pass comment on much of the contents of this book. On the one hand, Cortes could make few real defences against the claim that he was a scoundrel, thief and chauvinistic proselytiser whose first thought upon discovering one of the richest and most fascinating cultures ever to have existed was that he should take it for himself, and that his men were , though valiant, little more than fortune hunters. On the other hand, the Aztecs were, marvellous cultural achievements asid ...more
Omar
Feb 19, 2017 Omar rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Y desde que vimos tantas ciudades y villas pobladas en al agua y en tierra firme otras grandes poblaciones y aquella calzada tan derecha y por nivel que iba a México, nos quedamos admirados y decíamos que parecía a cosas de libros de fantasía por las altas torres en el agua y nuestros soldados preguntaban si todo esto era un sueño.
LonewolfMX Luna
Jul 29, 2008 LonewolfMX Luna rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in Mexico's History
Recommended to LonewolfMX by: Professor Abdiel Onate
Read this book in Professor Onate's Mexican History, which was a written account by Bernal Diaz one of the original Conquistadores that helped Hernan Cortes conquer the Aztec Empire. Was written during Diaz's final years before he died.

This book supposedly chronicles the "adventures" the Spaniards had before and during the conquest in which they would deel with the hostility of the other Mexican tribes as well as their Zealous attempts to convert the natives to Christianity and how they portraye
...more
Matt
Feb 27, 2016 Matt added it
Diaz gives a first-hand account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1519-1521. He paints a vivid picture of the action that took place during the conquest: the battles fought against, and alliances formed with, the various native tribes on the march to Mexico; the many challenges faced by the Spanish and their leader, Cortes, including significant internal division at times; and the siege and eventual capture of Mexico. His descriptions of the Mexican's ritual of sacrifice are particu ...more
Derek
Dec 27, 2008 Derek rated it liked it
Díaz is no journalist and no historian, and he wrote years after the fact apparently to refute the statements of other written accounts, and as a result this tale proceeds beginning to end as an extremely literal and weirdly detailed account, with more weight given to the number of horsemen sent on a particular attack than to his impressions of Aztec culture and the strange land the Spanish find themselves in. It is gracelessly written, with little eye for summation or high-level organization of ...more
Chris Fellows
Oct 19, 2012 Chris Fellows rated it really liked it
De l'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace

First, this makes every high fantasy adventure novel out there seem like rather thin gruel. It is easy to imagine it larded with appropriate conversations and lurid description to make it three or four time the size and then selling a gazillion copies as a story of a group of ruthless fantasy adventurers overthrowing an evil empire.

Second, it is lucky Osama bin Laden (I assume) never read it, since it is practically a textbook example of
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Letters from Mexico
  • A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
  • The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
  • The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda: A Northern Story
  • Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes and the Fall of Old Mexico
  • Thomas Of Reading
  • Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
  • The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives
  • Facundo: Or, Civilization and Barbarism
  • The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other
  • Pepita Jiménez
  • Amadis of Gaul
  • The Conquest of the Incas
  • El cuarto de atrás
  • Simplicissimus
  • Marks of Identity
  • History of the Conquest of Mexico
  • Halbzeit
62809
Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492 – ca. 1580) was a conquistador, who wrote an eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards under Hernán Cortés, himself serving as a rodelero under Cortés. Born in Medina del Campo (Spain), he came from a family of little wealth and he himself had received only a minimal education. He sailed to Tierra Firme in 1514 to make his fortune, but after two y ...more
More about Bernal Díaz del Castillo...

Share This Book



“for next to God, who is our strength, all depends upon the valour of our arms.” 1 likes
“Most of the Indians, particularly those living on the coasts and in the hotter climates, were given to unnatural lusts. To such a dreadful degree was this practised, that men even went about in female garments, and made a livelihood by their diabolical and cursed lewdness.” 1 likes
More quotes…