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The Conquest of New Spain

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,872 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
First-hand history of the conquest of Mexico
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 416 pages
Published July 26th 1973 by Penguin (first published 1632)
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(showing 1-30)
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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 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
karl
Mar 18, 2011 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
Juan
Nov 10, 2011 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
Ed
Mar 29, 2013 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 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 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
Heather
Sep 09, 2008 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.
Michael Swenty
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An early America historical first hand account must-read.
Barclay
Oct 26, 2008 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 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
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 rated it really liked it
Its getting repetitive towards the end.
Ian
An absolutely astonishing first-hand account of the conquest of Mexico, written some decades after the conquest took place.

It’s fair to say that Díaz del Castillo portrays the conquistadores in a more favourable light than they generally receive. Some of the worst excesses during the conquest are either played down or not mentioned at all. He clearly resents some of the criticisms levelled by Bartolomé de las Casas. Díaz does though portray the conquistadores' unbridled greed, often in strongly
...more
Markus
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Conquest of New Spain, Mexico.
By Bernal Diaz del Castillo (1495 – 1584)
“The true story”, told by the eye witness, as being History as he has seen it and witnessed it.
Hernando Cortez is the name of the leader of the expedition, commonly associated with New Spain, and Mexico, the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire.
Cortez and his six hundred soldiers, sixteen horses and some light artillery, set out from Cuba in 1519, with orders to explore the continent and to bring back gold and riches.
Howev
...more
Derekh Froude
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
A confession: I didn't read the whole thing.

Not to be that contemporary reader, but there is so much "we marched here and it was tough, and then we marched here and met these people, and they said this and we said that, and we slept, and woke up, and then marched here" that I couldn't get through it all.

That being said, the book is amazing in that it is Bernal's real memoir of accompanying Cortez on the first European march into Mexico, and Mexico City. I'm not taking the account as gospel (beca
...more
William Bell
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
del Castillo was one of the Spanish fortune-seekers who landed in Mexico with Cortez. This book is a detailed chronological eye-witness account of the ensuing encounters with indigenous peoples, culminating in the conquest of the Aztecs. Contrary to what you may have told by social-studies teachers, Cortez's military success was not significantly aided by superstitious belief that the Spaniards were gods (the natives learned early on that they were mere mortals), fear of horses or men mounted on ...more
Wes
DAMN THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!! Not because it isn't any good. It is flat out fantastic (to be fair, I am a little obsessed with the exploits of Cortes) the problem is that it stops right before Cortes march back to Mexico. Not because Castillo didn't get around to writing it. He did. It just so happens that some A**hole decided to split the work and put the remainder in another book.

SIGH. Now to finish this off.
Dan Allen
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting but dry history, this book should be rated R for ghastly violence. Too many details of the brutality of the Mexican natives make it a quite depressing read. It is amazing that Mexico was conquered by so few Spanish, but it was due to their horses and guns being novel.
Shea
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical record of conquest

Interesting reading, if a bit dry considering the subject matter.
The best record available on the subject of the conquest of Mexico.
Michael Brown
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An epic firsthand account of the conquistadors' conquest of Mexico. Allows for a complex reading of the motives of conquerors and conquered alike. Both horrible and fascinating.
Chazzy Patel
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Bernal Diaz is a writer's hero :)
Kyle Walter
Nov 10, 2016 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
Somejuan
Jan 08, 2015 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 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 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 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
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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
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“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
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