Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España

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The True History of the Conquest of New Spain
Title page of an edition of 1632
AuthorCaptain Bernal Diaz del Castillo
Original titleHistoria verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España
SubjectCortés, Hernán, -- 1485-1547.
Mexico -- History -- Conquest, 1517-1540.
Published1800 (Printed for J. Wright, Piccadilly, by John Dean, High Street, Congleton)
1908 (The Hakluyt Society, London)
1963 (Penguin Books)
Media typePrint
ISBN0-14-044123-9 (1963)

Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (transl.The True History of the Conquest of New Spain) is a first-person narrative written in 1568[1] by military adventurer, conquistador, and colonist settler Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492–1584), who served in three Mexican expeditions; those of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (1517) to the Yucatán peninsula; the expedition of Juan de Grijalva (1518), and the expedition of Hernán Cortés (1519) in the Valley of Mexico; the history relates his participation in the fall of Emperor Moctezuma II, and the subsequent defeat of the Aztec Empire.

In the colonial history of Latin America, it is a military account which historian J.M. Cohen states that Bernal Díaz del Castillo is “among chroniclers what Daniel Defoe is among novelists”.[2] Late in life, when Díaz del Castillo was in his 60s, he finished his first-person account of the Spanish conquest of the West Indies and the Aztec Empire. He wrote The True History of the Conquest of New Spain to defend the story of the common-soldier conquistador within the histories about the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. He presents his narrative as an alternative to the critical writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas whose descriptions of Spanish treatment of native peoples emphasized the cruelty of the conquest. He also criticized the histories of the hagiographic biographers of Hernán Cortés, specifically that of Francisco López de Gómara who Díaz del Castillo believed minimized the role of the 700 enlisted soldiers instrumental to conquering the Aztec Empire. In his eyewitness account, narrated in the first-person plural "we," Díaz del Castillo strongly defends the actions of the conquistadors while emphasizing their humanity and honesty. He summarizes their actions by saying, "We went there to serve God, and also to get rich."[citation needed]

The history is occasionally uncharitable about Cortés; like other professional soldiers who participated in the Conquest of New Spain, Díaz del Castillo found himself among the ruins of Tenochtitlán only slightly wealthier than when he arrived to Mexico. The land and gold compensation paid to many of the conquistadores proved a poor return for their investment of months of soldiering and fighting across Mexico and the Anahuac Valley.[citation needed]

Unabridged Translations[edit]


  1. ^ "The Project Gutenberg eBook of the memoirs of the conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo written by himself, containing a true and full account of the discovery and conquest of Mexico and New Spain (Vol. 1 of 2)".
  2. ^ J.M. Cohen citing The Conquest of Mexico, by W.H. Prescott in The Conquest of New Spain J.M. Cohen, editor. London: Penguin Books, 1963. p. 9.
  3. ^ Roberto A. Valdeón (15 November 2014). Translation and the Spanish Empire in the Americas. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 251. ISBN 978-90-272-6940-9.


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