Presentation on theme: "“MALINCHE AND THE SPANISH CONQUEST” HEATHER DEROY Research Presentation."— Presentation transcript:
“MALINCHE AND THE SPANISH CONQUEST” HEATHER DEROY Research Presentation
Inspiration and My Topic I have always been interested in the Aztec Empire, but my education before this class exposed me to very few details about the fall of the Aztecs. I chose Malinche, an Aztec woman involved in the conflict which led to the fall of the Aztecs. Malinche was sold into slavery to the Mayans. After she was presented to Hernan Cortes, she became his translator and assisted him in conquering Tenochtitlan. I am very interested in learning more about Malinche. In particular, I am interested in discovering the degree to which she influenced the fall of the Aztec Empire.
Source #1 Cortes’s Second Letter to King Charles VSecond Letter In this source, Hernan Cortes mentions Malinche as “my interpreter.”¹ This source gives details about the conflict between the Spanish and the Aztecs as well as Malinche’s aid in Spain’s success. Malinche was able to warn the Spanish about a planned Aztec attack. Without her warning, Cortes would not have been able to trick the leaders of the city into meeting with him, where he instead locked them in a room before the battle. Because he did this, the Aztecs were without leadership during the battle. ¹Cortes, Hernan. “Hernan Cortes to Emperor Carlos V.” Hernan Cortes: Letters from Mexico. (1522):
Source #2 Diaz del Castillo’s account of Malincheaccount Although this source was written years after the actual events, I find it very useful to examine the affect Malinche had on the Conquest itself. Diaz del Castillo was one of Cortes’ soldiers. Malinche is referred to as Doña Marina, her baptized name in this source. Diaz del Castillo describes that the gift of Malinche was worth much more than the gifts in gold they received, indicating her importance. This soldier tells the life story of Malinche because she was vital to their success. He stated that “without the help of Doña Marina we could not have understood the language of New Spain and Mexico.”² ²Diaz del Castillo, Bernal. The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico. (1585): Chap
Source #3 “Cortes Greets Xicotencatl” This painting was taken from Lienzo de Tlaxcala. The artist is a Native of Mexico, but his/her name is unknown. The artwork from the Lienzo are just pieces of a whole. In this piece, the leader of the Tlaxcala, Xicotencatl, greets Cortes, as the title of the painting suggests. The significance of this event is that these two men join together to defeat the Aztecs.³ Malinche is seen at the bottom of the painting in the center. This painting is a clue that Native people, in addition to the Spanish, knew Malinche’s role was a crucial part of their history. ³ Jaffary, Nora E., and Kirsten McKenzie. “Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator.” Women in World History. (accessed July 26, 2009) available from
Source #4 Malinche Translating from Palace Roof Top The artist of this painting was a Native of Mexico. The painting is found within the Florentine Codex, a source that I hope to find in English. The Florentine Codex shows Malinche and Cortes on a tower with Malinche translating for him. 4 The depiction of Cortes and Malinche sharing the tower shows a glimpse of the relationship of the two and the dependency Cortes had on Malinche. 4 Jaffary, Nora E., and Kirsten McKenzie. “Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator.” Women in World History. (accessed July 26, 2009) available from =1&s=4
Source #5 Hernan Cortes and La Malinche meet Moctezuma II in Tenochtitlan Once again, Malinche is represented in artwork depicting the Conquest of the Aztecs. She is standing behind Hernan Cortes, and is aiding communication between the two leaders. This painting is another from the Lienzo Tlaxcala. 5 5 Facsimile (c. 1890) “Hernan Cortes and La Malinche meet Moctezuma II in Tenochtitlan.” Lienzo de Tlaxcala. 8 November, 1519.
Source #6 La Malinche and Hernan Cortes in the city of Xaltelolco This is another drawing of Malinche next to Cortes from the 16 th century codex, History of Tlaxcala. 6 Notice that many of the pictures show her pointing her finger, perhaps as a symbol of translation. 6 “La Malinche and Hernan Cortes in the city of Xaltelolco.” History of Tlaxcala. Late 16 th century.
Source #7 An Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico This site above has an excerpt from “The Broken Spears,” a translation of events written by the Aztec people. The excerpt mentions Malinche. She helps Cortes to tell Moctezuma that the Spanish want to be friends and there is no reason to fear them. 7 I was very excited to find this translated source of events from the Native perspective. 8 7 Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), Fitch, Nancy. “Primary Sources,” Hernando Cortes on the Web.” (accessed 27 July 2009), available from
Thesis Serving as an interpreter, Malinche drastically changed the outcome of encounters between the Native people of Mexico and the Spanish. Without her presence, the Spanish would have had much more difficultly in New Spain, not being able to communicate with its people. Malinche influenced the conflict between the Native Americans and the Spanish. Malinche aided the Spanish in finding riches, being warned of conflict, and communicating. Malinche was helpful to the Native Americans because she gave them a voice for the Spanish.
Summary of Events 9 Malinche was born in the village of Painalla, a part of the Aztec Empire. Her father was a chief and died when she was a baby. Her mother remarried and had a son. She wished her son to inherit her wealth instead of Malinche, so she claimed Malinche had died and sold her to slavery. Malinche became a slave of the Maya. Because of this, she was fluent in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, and Mayan. Hernan Cortes was sent by Governor Diego de Velasquez to lead an expedition to the Yucatan Penninsula; he left November 18, Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. 3 rd ed. (New York, NY, 2009), , 119.
Summary of Events (continued) Early in Cortes’ journey, he rescued a priest, Aguilar, who was fluent in both Spanish and Mayan. Cortes defeated Indians at Tabasco, bringing him in contact with Mayan rulers. The Mayans gave Malinche and 19 other slave girls to Cortes as a gift. With the combination of Malinche and Aguilar, Cortes could successfully communicate with the Aztecs. Malinche was baptized as “Dona Marina.” Malinche told Hernan Cortes about the Aztec riches
Summary of Events (continued) Malinche provided cultural and geographical information to the Spanish. In August of 1519, Cortes made the move to Tenochtitlan. Malinche informed Cortes of the prophecy that the god Quetzalcoatl was to return and the Aztecs believed it was him. On November 8, 1519, Cortes entered Tenochtitlan and proceeded to take Montezuma hostage and claim the city for Spain. Malinche uncovered a secret plot to attack the Spanish while they were in Tenochtitlan. In May of 1520, the Aztecs rose in resistance as a result of Spanish suppression of human sacrifice. This event is known as “sorrowful night;” half of the Spanish army was lost. In the Spring of 1521, Cortes retaliated and won after a three month siege.
Bibliography Primary Sources: “Cortés Greets Xicotencatl.” Mid-16th century. Detail from Lienzo de Tlaxcala. Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin. Cortés, Hernán. Hernán Cortés: Letters from Mexico, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. Chap in The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, Translated by A. P. Maudsley. New York: The Noonday Press, “La Malinche and Hernan Cortes in the city of Xaltelolco.” History of Tlaxcala. Late 16 th century. Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears. Boston: Beacon Press, “Hernan Cortes and La Malinche meet Moctezuma II in Tenochtitlan.” Lienzo de Tlaxcala. 8 November, of Florentine Codex, Bernardino de Sahagún et al., Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Italy. Malinche Translating from Palace Roof Top. Pigment/ink on paper ca In Book 12, Chap. 18 of Florentine Codex, Bernardino de Sahagún et al., Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Italy. Miguel Leon-Portilla, ed., The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), 62–65. Secondary Sources: Fitch, Nancy. “Primary Sources,” Hernando Cortes on the Web.” Accessed 27 July Available from seville.com/cortes/3.html Jaffary, Nora E., and Kirsten McKenzie. “Dona Marina, Cortes’ Translator.” Women in World History. (accessed July 26, 2009) available from Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. 3rd Edition. New York, NY, 2009.