When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History

When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History Review

A dramatic rethinking of the encounter between Montezuma and Hernando Cortés that completely overturns what we know about the Spanish conquest of the Americas
On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortés first met Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, at the entrance to the capital city of Tenochtitlan. This introduction—the prelude to the Spanish seizure of Mexico City and to European colonization of the mainland of the Americas—has long been the symbol of Cortés’s bold and brilliant military genius. Montezuma, on the other hand, is remembered as a coward who gave away a vast empire and touched off a wave of colonial invasions across the hemisphere.

But is this really what happened? In a departure from traditional tellings, When Montezuma Met Cortés uses “the Meeting”—as Restall dubs their first encounter—as the entry point into a comprehensive reevaluation of both Cortés and Montezuma. Drawing on rare primary sources and overlooked accounts by conquistadors and Aztecs alike, Restall explores Cortés’s and Montezuma’s posthumous reputations, their achievements and failures, and the worlds in which they lived—leading, step by step, to a dramatic inversion of the old story. As Restall takes us through this sweeping, revisionist account of a pivotal moment in modern civilization, he calls into question our view of the history of the Americas, and, indeed, of history itself

Title:When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Peter Tillman

    Good review-essay, at NYRB:https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018..."Before Cortés sailed to Mexico, he had lived in the Caribbean for fifteen years, first in Hispaniola and then in Cuba. Like other s...

  • Avery

    This book's mission is actually a very cool one: it exposes the story of "Montezuma welcoming Cortez as the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl" as a long, storied fabrication that actually began with the c...

  • Jake

    It's meticulously researched and Restall brings up some interesting ways in which to think about history, I'll give him that. But if I had known the book was going to amount to a 350 page literature r...

  • Judy

    Matthew Restall certainly does his research. I find myself skipping parts, going ahead and then going back. This book should be of interest to any history buff. A whole different perspective on the Sp...

  • Randal

    Likely a polarizing title. OK, back up. All stories of conquest are polarizing; victor writes the history, etc., until recent pushback has gotten more vanquished tales in print. Columbus / Cortés are...

  • Peter Goodman

    “When Montezuma Met Cortés: the true story of the meeting that changed history,” by Matthew Restall (HarperCollins, 2018). Long story short: Cortés was not the brilliant, courageous, visionary, ...

  • Justinian

    2018-02 - When Montezuma Met Cortés: The True Story of the Meeting that Changed History. Matthew Restall (Author) 2018. 560 Pages. Nicholle saw this book in the Book Reads newspaper and I then put it...

  • Socraticgadfly

    This is "revisionist history" at its best. The book is dense at times and does jump around somewhat.That said, if one looks at Restall's author page, he's definitely got the background and the chops t...

  • Emily

    Restall presents an interesting thesis on the fabricated "surrender" of Montezuma to the infamous Conquistador Hernando Cortés. Although I've been looking forward to reading this for weeks now, I fou...

  • Paul Heikkila

    A bit of a slog, but it picks up toward the end. Worth finishing. It is rather more a critique of historians, poets, librettists, and others who have taken Cortes to be something more mythic than hist...