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The story of the Spanish missions in California has its roots in 16th century Mexico. There, Franciscan friars and their native partners sought to record the memories of Aztec elders before their culture was changed forever. The information they collected is contained in the Florentine Codex.
Dr. Ezekiel Stear is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Auburn University. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, has studied Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) and is an expert on indigenous texts from the area of Central Mexico.
Highlights of Part 1
- The university in Mexico City that taught aristocratic Aztec youth Latin and Greek, and why it didn’t last.
- How Aztec nobles and Franciscan friars worked together to create an alphabet for Nahuatl.
- Bernardino de Sahagún — the Spanish friar and early anthropologist who sought to document Aztec culture.
- How Sahagún and his native partners transcribed 12 volumes of information.
- The strange story of how Sahugún’s manuscript wound up in Italy and came to be known as the Florentine Codex— the most important source of material on the Aztecs.
To Learn More
- Ezekiel Stear’s faculty page at Auburn University
- Ezekiel’s website: Forgotten Lives of Latin America
- The Florentine Codex on the World Digital Library
- Book: Biography of Bernardino de Sahagún by Miguel León-Portilla
- Book: The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan: The Life of Mexico City by Barbara Mundy
- Book: Aztecs on Stage by Louise M. Burkhart
JARRELL JACKMAN says
Interesting how the codices ended up in Florence.
Like the way, your blogs place CA in a larger context–Spain and Mexico. Even at the end of the Spanish days of S Barbara there was contact with Spain. Then when Mexico came into take over governing CA, there were those who resisted and want to remain under Spain, especially the younger generation, and especially the de la Guerras, some of the really young marched around the Presidio pretending to take possession of it for Spain. Pueblos writes about this.
Damian Bacich says
I appreciate your comments, Jerry. I have always tried to see California within the broader Iberian context. When I teach my summer course on Latin American civilization and culture, I always include the Californias on the syllabus as a way of making sure the students understand that.