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I, Hernán Cortés

The (Second) Trial of Residency

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Francisco Manzo-Robledo

I, Hernán Cortés: The (Second) Trial of Residency is a literary analysis of the most important documents in the Hernán Cortés trial of residency (juicio de residencia) using some proposed literary tools created for that purpose and the original documents in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville as well as a great variety of books on Hernán Cortés. Francisco Manzo-Robledo reveals how Hernán Cortés re-creates himself, from being the first illegal immigrant in the continent to becoming, for a short time, the highest authority in New Spain before falling into a legal limbo in the Council of Indies. This book is useful in any course dealing with Spanish colonial history or literature.

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Introduction 1

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INTRODUCTION ...a clash between two empires. Both were imaginative and inventive. Though different, they had much in common: they held many things sacred, they had conquered others, and they were fond of ceremony. Both were by most modern standards cruel, but cultivated. Both intermittently dreamed of conquering what they thought of as “the world”. Both were possessed by powerful beliefs that their leaders looked on as complete explanations of human life. Hugh Thomas, Conquest (xi) In the field of colonial literature in Latin America, the literary canon has typically parted from documents of historical interest that surpass the literary, instead establishing as foundational documents those containing the production of characters having to do with the so-called ‘discovery’ and ‘pacification’ of the continent. Thus, it is considered that Hispanic American colonial literature has its origins in documents such as Cristóbal Colón’s (c. 1451–1506) Diario de a bordo, transcribed by friar Bartolomé de las Casas (1484–1566); Cartas de relación by Hernán Cortés (1485–1547), consisting of five letters in all, the first one lost and replaced by the Carta del Cabildo de la Vera Cruz; documents written by friar Bartolomé de las Casas such as Breve relación de la destrucción de las Indias Occidentales; and Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s (1492–1584?) Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, among others. These documents have been studied extensively, most often from a historical perspective rather than from a literary point of...

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