9925 - Bleeding Hearts: Pity and Compassion in Spanish and Nahua Accounts of the Spanish-Mexica War (1519-21)

The paper seeks to analyze how emotions are narrated and displayed in Spanish and Nahua textual and pictorial accounts of the conquest. When Hernando Cortés described the conquest of the city of Tenochtitlan he wrote that there was no man, who’s heart was not bleeding hearing the wailing of the women and children. In a similar emotional way the Mexica tlatoani Motecuhzoma addresses his people to submit to the invaders. He dramatically asked them to have pity with the old men and women and the babies and toddlers. These two episodes albeit describing two different events in time and written from opposite positions nevertheless both invest in expressing the emotions of pity and compassion. Cortés’ account represents the victorious master narrative of the invaders. Motecuhzoma´s moving speech is told in Book Twelve of the Florentine Codex, the most extensive indigenous language account of the war. Both episodes signify the importance of emotions for telling the history of the Spanish-Mexica war. Cortés and the Nahua writers of the Florentine Codex both want to document their pity and compassion, they want their emotions communicated and remembered. Emotions f.e compassion, mourning, crying and laughing are perceived to be universal to every culture, yet at the same time emotions are embedded in socio-cultural practices and rituals. Being both universal and socially, culturally and historically shaped comparing the representation of emotions of pity and compassion in conquest accounts will enable me to explore a common emotional ground and the specificity of the clash of cultures.

Palabras claves: Conquest accounts, emotions, Hernando Cortés, Florentine Codex, clash of cultures

Autores: Bröchler, Anja (University of Cologne, Germany / Deutschland)


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