Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
1564: The Year the Conquest of Mexico Was Complete as Told in the Annals of Juan Bautista

Historical studies of the Nahuas of Mexico have tended to focus either on the conquest, the two-year war waged by the conquistadors from 1519 – 1521, or on the years after the definite establishment of Spanish authority. Few studies have examined the Nahuas during the intermediate process of consolidating Spanish rule and institutions following military defeat. The rarely studied 16th century text, Annals of Juan Bautista, captures Nahua (Mexica) society in Mexico City in that very moment. The Annals traces the various, though ultimately futile, strategies of resistance to a harsh new tribute imposed on them in 1564 by the Spanish Crown, as the population came to the sobering realization that they were now truly a conquered people and their conquest was complete. In my dissertation, through a thorough translation and analysis of the Anales and other documents from 1560s, I will chronicle Mexica perspectives and reactions to the new tribute policy and their irrevocably subjugated status. Moreover, I will analyze the copious accounts of preconquest cultural survival in the Annals, ranging from visual art and performance to ritual speech, seeing what can be learned from them about preconquest Mexica society. I will effectively use the Annals of Juan Bautista as a cultural Rosetta Stone, and ask what effect the culmination of conquest in 1564 had on the eventual transformation, decay, or extinction of such traditions and art forms. I will resurrect the "visions of the vanquished" from this text to analyze what exactly conquest and colonization meant to the Nahuas. Finding copious examples of resistance, I will question previous scholars' views that such things were largely irrelevant to a tranquil colonial population that had purportedly transcended its mild subjugation. For those studying colonialism, my translation and study of the text will serve as a case study of one people's attempts to manage their existence within a newfound harsh colonial reality.