Short Story Preview: Golf was First Played in Scotland – Malcolm Allen
Nonsense, Viva Mexico
The conquest of the Aztec empire by Cortez and his Conquistadors in the early 16th Century is one of the most tragic episodes of modern history. If that quest for gold and souls had not taken place we could now enjoy the full glory of the Mayan civilisation instead of the few tantalising ruined cities that remain, like Tikal in Guatemala, and Tulam and Uxmal in Northern Yucatan.
I first became interested in the expedition of Cortez who sailed from Cuba to Mexico in 1519, when completing my Spanish degree in Seville in the early 1960s. The major record of the chilling events was written by Cortez himself in a series of letters to Charles V but, as he was trying to ingratiate himself into the King’s favour, it is suspected that the contents of the Cartas de Relación contained much fiction and many distorted facts. Still, they were interesting, and they helped with my thesis and the
resulting reasonable degree which I managed to salvage from four years of drinking and poodle-faking at universities in England and Spain.
About eighteen months ago, while doing some more detailed background reading in preparation for a trip to Mexico that I had promised yself for many years, I came across a reference to a priest called Jeronimo de Aguilar who had interpreted for Cortez on his march from Yucutan to Tenochtitlan or Mexico City as it is now called. Jeronimo is a fascinating figure in his own right. Born in Ecija in Spain, and educated for the Church as a Franciscan friar, he was shipwrecked off the Yucatan coast in 1489.