CRRS Erasmus Lecture – Daniela Bleichmar: “Remaking Mexican Indigenous History in Print: Early Modern Readings and Reproductions of the Codex Mendoza”
The Codex Mendoza, an illustrated manuscript history of the pre-contact Mexica (Aztec) empire, was created in early colonial Mexico City by Nahua artist-scribes and Spanish interpreters and scribes. The manuscript traveled to Europe and from one notable owner to another—André Thevet, Richard Hakluyt, Samuel Purchas, and John Selden—before entering the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. As the only Mexican indigenous manuscript that Europeans found legible for more than three hundred years, it became the most studied, used, and reproduced non-European manuscript in early modern Europe.
This lecture discusses the readings and re-productions of the Codex Mendoza from the first publication by Samuel Purchas in 1625, through numerous other versions, to the appearance of the first modern “facsimile” in 1831. Through these printed remakes, the Mendoza became a central source for the interpretations of indigenous books and indigenous societies.