Book Review: Indian Conquistadors: Indigenous Allies in the Conquest of Mesoamerica


by Laura E. Matthew and Michel Oudux, editors.

Norman, Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. Pp. xiv, 349. Illus., maps, tables, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN:0806138548


Indian Conquistadores provides a serious look at the role of Indian allies in the "Spanish Conquest"of what are today Mexico and Central America. 

The work opens with a thoughtful introduction to what the editors call the "genre" of "Conquest Studies," in which they point out that different scholars have sought to minimize the role of indigenous forces in the conquest for different reasons.  Neither Spanish scholars, seeking to justify Madrid's dominion over the conquered peoples, nor post-colonial anti-Spanish scholars, seeking to assert a nativist nationalism, could give the Indians who often formed the backbone of "Spanish" armies during the conquest, credit without thereby negating their own arguments.

Nine essays follow on a wide variety of topics, touching upon such diverse subjects as the role of Indian wives or mistresses in the conquest (and how time and class could alter their status), the use of Indian troops far from the Americas, as, for example, in the Philippines, or the "Hispanicization" of some members of the native nobility, to name but a few. In the process, the reader is treated to often surprisingly detailed accounts of some of the lesser known campaigns in the region. 

An excellent work, Indigenous Allies is for the serious student of the Conquest.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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