Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico” as Want to Read:
The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,202 ratings  ·  88 reviews
For hundreds of years, the history of the conquest of Mexico and the defeat of the Aztecs has been told through the words of Spanish victors.
Paperback, 196 pages
Published July 20th 1997 by Beacon Press (first published 1959)
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 Broken Spears, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Broken Spears

Blood River by Tim ButcherThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Reading Places
122nd out of 180 books — 75 voters
Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 by William BradfordThe Constitution of the United States of America by James MadisonSinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan EdwardsFreedom of the Will by Jonathan EdwardsPersonal Narrative by Jonathan Edwards
Colonial to Eighteenth Century Amercian List
11th out of 29 books — 4 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,242)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I had to read this for my intro class to Latin America from prehistory to 1800. I absolutely enjoyed reading it. Getting a peak into what the Mexicas felt, saw, and experienced was priceless for understanding the Conquest of Mexico in full. The language though melancholy was quite beautiful. I highly recommend for all history fans.
No siempre hay una sola verdad frente a un hecho. "Visión de los vencidos: crónicas indígenas" es justamente el otro lado de la conquista, contado por los que vivieron, sufrieron y vieron su cultura perderse a causa de la conquista.
Tuve que leerlo a las apuradas para realizar un trabajo sobre las crónicas indígenas, y en verdad es muy completo. Me ha dado mucha información que no estaba al tanto, y lo agradezco.
Siempre es bueno conocer los dos lados de una misma moneda.
Andrew-Mario Hart-Grana
It's as refreshing as it was when it was first published many years ago. Leon-Portillo's constructed account of "the vision of the vanquished" has been somehow rejuvenated with new "Nahua" sources (i.e. Emiliano Zapata's statements), which confirm the continuity, and transformation, of this "vision" throughout time. In recent years, academic studies have been more inclined to also address "cultural adaptations" which certainly allowed these voices to be reproduced and heard for many centuries af ...more
Nick Marsellas
A must read for anyone studying the Spanish conquest of the New World. The stories within this anthology show the Aztecs for what they really were, a warrior empire who recognized Montezuma's incompetence, and fought valiantly, winning many of the battles against the Spanish. These stories will definitely have you questioning the story of Spanish conquest you learned in high school. Not only does this book provide a more balanced account, it is also a more emotional account than any reports we h ...more
Abdulsalam Alali
It is mainly about telling the story-from different codexes- of the Spaniard conquest to the aztec capital (Tenochtitlan), and the territories around it...
There're a lot of Mexican names which makes reading it a little bit uncomfortable
By the way, it was one of my history class requirement, and that is why I am reading it.. Honestly, I would not be interested reading this kind of books
Wilson Warmack
Having read many of the Spanish accounts of the Conquest of Mexico it was extremely interesting to see the same story from the other side. Although this book lacks a strong narrative flow and overall context which would be critical for someone new to the subject area, if you are familiar with the Spanish version of events, then this is a must-read that fills in a lot of gaps in the Spanish account which helps to humanize the Aztec/Mexica and explain how cultural differences have lead to misinter ...more
This was interesting to read along with Diaz' Conquest of New Spain. The two narratives (or perhaps I should say "multiple narratives," since this Aztec chronicles come from several different sources) were surprisingly in sync. Many of the questions I had from reading Diaz' account were answered in Broken Spears: what was going through the minds of the Mexica as the Spanish began their push inland? What happened to all the dead from the battles? Were the accounts of human sacrifice exaggerated? ...more
Had to read this for a class and I really enjoyed it!
A TOP SHELF review, originally published in the February 20, 2014 edition of The Monitor

As late as the 1950s, the world primarily knew the story of Mexico’s conquest by the Spanish through the accounts of the victors, men like Hernán Cortés, Bernal Díaz del Castillo and Francisco López de Gómara. Though glimpses at the true nature of the indigenous people shine through, as does the terrible majesty of the Aztec hegemony, these histories celebrated Christian and Spanish ascendancy. There was no r
Monserrat Maxfield Markov
Reto de Lectura 2015: "Un libro basado en una historia real".
Jose Luis
Muy buen libro y recomendado al 100% casi de lectura obligada para aquellos que se interesen en el periodo de la Conquista de México.
Libro fácil de digerir y que nos muestra el otro punto de vista y tal vez el mas importante el de los vencidos.
One of a kind. This was a great read, even if it was required book for class.
I enjoyed every minute of it. This book will have you questioning everything you previously believed.
Nov 19, 2008 Gladys rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
Hay que conocer las dos versiones, la de los vencedores y la de los vencidos para sacar conclusiones. En este libro conocemos el pensamiento mexica en el momento de la conquista española
Si se quiere aprender el punto de vista de los indigenas mexicanos un poquito antes de la conquista... éste es el libro para hacerlo!
Oct 21, 2009 Mische is currently reading it
i'm like halfway through this book and it's fucking great. why the fuck aren't more history books written like poetry?
Rabinovich Ed
Si eres mexicano es lectura obligatoria para conocer tu cultura.
Leon-Portilla’s writes about the conquering of the Aztecs by Cortez using the translated Aztec codices to include the voices of the indigenous people. It also gives several different retellings of invasion and destruction of their land as found in the different codices by Indians conquered and controlled by the Aztecs. I had just finished Buddy Levy’s book, "Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs" and would recommend reading this book first because this Leo ...more
I’ve had this book for ages, but after reading the Daily Life of the Aztecs I was finally in the mood to read this one. I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot. I wouldn’t recommend it as the first book you read about Aztecs as it doesn’t explain anything just offers a translation of the work. It is also intended for the general reader, rather than the historian/scholar so doesn’t offer all that much in the way of notes or textual critique but nether the less is very interesting. The texts themse ...more
LonewolfMX Luna
Oct 19, 2008 LonewolfMX Luna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in the History of Mexico
Recommended to LonewolfMX by: Ramon and Professor Rivera
This will be the counterpoint to Bernal Diaz's Conquista de La Nueva Espana.

Finished reading it and I must say that Leon-Portilla did a good job translating the Aztec codices in regard to the Conquest of Mexico.

The first chapter deals with the Aztecs seeing omens foretelling the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico.

Which really astonished me

The first bad omen of things to come ten years prior to the Spanish arrival in which signs such as bright comet flying over the capital in day time in which th
Kelly Vidaurri
A History by the Defeated, for the Defeated
History has always been written by the winners and for the winners. This has never been truer than the account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. The history that has been taught in schools gives an account of a heroic battle between “good” and “evil”; however the accounts in Miguel Leon-Portilla’s Broken Spears sheds new light on a subject that has been dulled by relentless repetition of a victor’s history.
The importance of a collection of a
Es bien sabido que los mexicanos conocemos sólo una parte de la historia de nuestro país, aquella que es contada por los vencedores, por los que deciden cuál es la historia oficial de México.

Este libro es una crónica del antropólogo mexicano Miguel León Portilla, donde narra a través de la interpretación de diferentes códices escritos en náhuatl, los sucesos que acontecieron en México a la llegada de los españoles.

Una de las maravillas que nos muestra León Portilla, es cómo te hace reflexionar
Jun 20, 2007 Justino marked it as to-read
exceedingly sweet action!!!: i got this book because i find pre-columbian mesoamerica fascinating, and i also enjoy the vivid clash of cultures which occured when the spaniards arrived there. this book describes the conflict between the aztecs and spaniards superbly! this book is somewhat unique among histories because it takes the point of view of the vanquished rather than the victors. it starts from before the spaniards arrive with eerie premonitions of eminent doom to the fall of tenochtitla ...more
Classic account from Nahuatl texts of the battle between the Spaniards and Aztecs. Just a few perspectives and best read with a textbook or more thorough descriptions of the Encounter era. But so evocative and descriptive. Really easy read that my surrender love--but helps to have a more straightforward narrative to put this in context with. The editor was one of the first to do this back in the 50s when few read indigenous peoples' perspectives anywhere. So a great bit of historiography.
Milton Marshall
This is very good book and should be read along with Cortes' five letters, and the account of Bernal Diaz, by anyone trying to gain a better knowledge of the actual events that took place during the conquest of the Aztecs. I have read many of the reviews, and most of them fail to notice that the majority of the accounts come from Aztec nobles who are writing to the King of Spain years after the events seeking reparations for their lost property. Their account is thus influenced by their personal ...more
"The Broken Spears" is a classic "must-read" for anybody interested in the conquest of Mexico. The book was slim and easy to read, but it vividly depicts the humanity of a culture so ancient and so foreign. We know that the native populations of the New World suffered terribly when European colonialists arrived, from disease, warfare, slavery and the ensuing destruction of their known world. But what an impact to read of such destruction in the first person. My heart broke to read how they were ...more
Uses recountings and poetry from native sources to create a counter-point to the story of the Conquest popularized by Bernal Diaz and other conquistadors. A good introduction to Leon-Portilla, who is a major figure in modern Aztec history and Nahuatl language studies.
Por primera vez he entendido los orígenes de la cultura mexicana. Esta historia está contada desde dos perspectivas, lo cual hace muy interesante el contraste en ciertas cosas.
Creo que lo que más me gusto del libro fue la manera en la que es contada; la historia se desarrolla de una manera muy diferente a como me lo esperaba, es narrada como una historia totalmente nueva, llena de traiciones, mitos, e intrigas.
Estoy muy feliz de haber leído esta obra :)
The book was very informative, I read it for a world history class. I'm used to reading about the Spanish invasion from the Spanish view point, to read it from the point of view of the Aztecs put things in a much different perspective.
Relación importantísima para la historia de los Mexicanos. Aunque a veces se escuchan las voces que deben ser Indígenas muy hispanizadas, esta versión hace tributo a personajes importantes como Cuauhtémoc y Tzilacatzin.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 74 75 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Conquest of New Spain
  • Ambivalent Conquests: Maya & Spaniard in Yucatan 1517-70
  • The Aztecs
  • Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest
  • A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
  • Zapata and the Mexican Revolution
  • Conquest: Montezuma, Cortes and the Fall of Old Mexico
  • Colonial Latin America
  • The Maya (Ancient Peoples & Places)
  • Letters from Mexico
  • Popol Vuh
  • Book of the Hopi: The first revelation of the Hopi's historical and religious world-view of life
  • Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America
  • The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other
  • Daily Life of the Aztecs
  • Mexico Biography of Power
  • Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas
  • The Course of Mexican History
Ha sido profesor en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la UNAM desde 1957, director del Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, miembro de la Junta de Gobierno de la UNAM, y actualmente es Investigador Emérito del Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, con antigüedad desde 1957. Ha impartido numerosas conferencias y pertenece, como consejero, al Instituto de Civilizaciones Diferentes, de Brus ...more
More about Miguel León-Portilla...

Share This Book

“In Tenochtitlan, Tezcoco and other cities there were groups of wise men known as tlamatinime. These scholars carried on the study of the ancient religious thinking of the Toltecs, which Tlacaelel had transformed into a mystical exaltation of war. Despite the popularity of the cult of the war-god, Huitzilopochtli, the tlamatinime preserved the old belief in a single supreme god, who was known under a variety of names. Sometimes he was called Tloque-Nahuaque, “Lord of the Close Vicinity,” sometimes Ipalnemohuani, “Giver of Life,” sometimes Moyocoyatzin, “He who Creates Himself.” He also had two aspects, one masculine and one feminine. Thus he was also invoked as Ometeotl, “God of Duality,” or given the double names Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl, “Lord and Lady of Duality,” Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl, “Lord and Lady of the Region of Death,” and others.” 0 likes
More quotes…