”When Hernan Cortes entered the Valley of Mexico in 1519 he found there a highly developed society whose sophistication and grandiose barbarity astonished the conquistadors. The Aztecs, as the people of the valley became generally called, are one of the most fascinating and exotic of the ancient civilizations of the New World, and they have captured the imagination of the world ever since the first reports reached Europe. Much has been written about their downfall at the hands of the Spaniards and about their ritual and social customs. Most people know something of Montezuma II, but few know of his equally remarkable predecessors, among them Tizoc, Ahuitzotl and Montezuma I, whose conquests made the empire. Nigel Davies, the author of scholarly works on the subject, has now written for the general reader an absorbing narrative history of the Aztec people. Starting from their obscure nomadic beginnings, concealed in a thick layer of myth and tradition, he unravels the complex story of their rise to power, of dynastic battles and feuds. The balance of power in the Valley of Mexico was always precariously based on treaties and federations, and Mr. Davies describes in enthralling detail the political situation which made it possible for a handful of armed Spaniards to overcome the mighty Montezuma. He writes from the Aztec point of view, showing how their social and political life was disrupted by the arrival of Europeans and how the great Aztec nobility gradually dwindled into insignificance. This book is a major historical achievement, bringing together many complex strands into a single compelling story.”
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