The Crónica Mexicayotl is a chronicle of the history of Aztec Empire from the early Nahua migrations to the colonial period, which was written in the Nahuatl language around in the 16th century. Its authorship is debated because the earliest copy is written in the hand of Chimalpahin (1579-1660) while the manuscripts itself states that the author is Fernando Alvarado Tezozómoc (before 1542 - ca. 1610).
The oldest extant version of the manuscript was written by Chimalpahin, this manuscript, which is designated MS374, was held at Cambridge University until 2013. In 2014, it was acquired by the Mexican National Institute for Archeology and History, and is now on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. In the 18th century a copy of the manuscript was made by Lorenzo Boturini who published it in Tome 4 of his 1746 "Catálogo del museo histórico indiano". In the late 19th century Boturini's manuscript was copied by father José Pichardo and Antonion León y Gama and their manuscript is designated (MS 311) - this tertiary copy is now held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.
In 1949, working from photocopies of the tertiary manuscript MS311, Adrian León translated the Crónica Mexicayotl into Spanish and the National Autnonomous University of Mexico published it with the Nahuatl and Spanish text. This version has since been published in several editions, but being based on the tertiary version it contains errors and omissions. In 1997 American ethnohistorians Susan Schroeder and Arthur J. O. Anderson, translated the earliest manuscript MS374 into English and published it as part of their book "Codex Chimalpahin". A Spanish translation of by Rafael Tena was published in 2013, and a German translation of the same by Betrthold Riese was published in 2004.
The problem of the authorship of the Crónica Mexicayotl arose already in the early studies of the document, since the introduction explicitly names Tezozomoc as the author, although written in Chimalpahin's hand and with additions in which Chimalpahin mentions himself by name. Alexis Aubin considered that Chimalpahin simply copied and annotated the text from an original manuscript by Tezozomoc. Paul Kirchoff argued that there is a stylistic break between the first part of the Cronica and the second part, and argued that the first part was written by Tezozomoc and the second by Chimalpahin.
Susan Schroeder has argued that the Crónica Mexicayotl was Chimalpahin's original work and that only the introduction was by Tezozomoc - and that it was in fact not an introduction to the Crónica Mexicayotl, but an appendix to the work Historia o Crónica Mexicana which precedes the Crónica Mexicayotl in the volume of the MS374. Schroeder has been contradicted by Peperstraete and Kruell, who argue that Tezozomocs authorship of the main part of the Mexicayotl is established by the introduction (which they argue can only properly be considered an introduction and not an appendix to another work), and by the fact that most of the chronicle is about Tezozomocs family using sources that would have been only available to him. They also add that Tezozomoc's Spanish language Crónica Mexicana, is essentially a translation of the Mexicayotl - making it all the more likely that both works are of his authorship. They consider that in writing the Mexicayotl, Tezozomoc may have also worked from the so-called Crónica X, a lost document of Mexican history which was also used by other authors for their works. As for Chimalpahin's role they argue that Chimalpahin not only copied the manuscript but also added and intercalated some parts into Tezozomoc's text. Peperstraete and Kruell argue that Tezozomoc's poriginal version of the Crónica Mexicayotl would have been elaborated before 1581, because they believe that fray Diego Durán consulted this manuscript in preparing his own History of the Indies of New Spain.
- Schroeder, S. (2011). The Truth about the Crónica Mexicayotl. Colonial Latin American Review, 20(2), 233-247.
- Peperstraete, Sylvie, and Gabriel Kenrick Kruell. "Determining the Authorship of the Crónica Mexicayotl: Two Hypotheses." The Americas 71, no. 2 (2014): 315-338.
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