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The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom Paperback – December 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0804735223 ISBN-10: 0804735220 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 596 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804735220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804735223
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,384,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This magisterial study will assume the status of an enduring classic in the field of Mesoamerican studies. Superbly crafted, it presents an original reinterpretation of the events and circumstances surrounding the conquest of the Itza Mayas by the forces of imperial Spain. . . . It is a magnificent work.”—W. George Lovell, Queen’s University

From the Inside Flap

On March 13, 1697, Spanish troops from Yucatán attacked and occupied Nojpeten, the capital of the Maya people known as Itzas, the inhabitants of the last unconquered native New World kingdom. This political and ritual center—located on a small island in a lake in the tropical forests of northern Guatemala—was densely covered with temples, royal palaces, and thatched houses, and its capture represented a decisive moment in the final chapter of the Spanish conquest of the Mayas.
The capture of Nojpeten climaxed more than two years of preparation by the Spaniards, after efforts by the military forces and Franciscan missionaries to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the Itzas had been rejected by the Itza ruling council and its ruler Ajaw Kan Ek’. The conquest, far from being final, initiated years of continued struggle between Yucatecan and Guatemalan Spaniards and native Maya groups for control over the surrounding forests. Despite protracted resistance from the native inhabitants, thousands of them were forced to move into mission towns, though in 1704 the Mayas staged an abortive and bloody rebellion that threatened to recapture Nojpeten from the Spaniards.
The first complete account of the conquest of the Itzas to appear since 1701, this book details the layers of political intrigue and action that characterized every aspect of the conquest and its aftermath. The author critically reexamines the extensive documentation left by the Spaniards, presenting much new information on Maya political and social organization and Spanish military and diplomatic strategy.
This is not only one of the most detailed studies of any Spanish conquest in the Americas but also one of the most comprehensive reconstructions of an independent Maya kingdom in the history of Maya studies. In presenting the story of the Itzas, the author also reveals much about neighboring lowland Maya groups with whom the Itzas interacted, often violently.

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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By cdegler@best.com on September 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I can't say that I have ever had the pleasure to read from beginning to end a more thoroughly and carefully researched work of archeo/historical significance which simultaneously succeeds in grabbing your attention with a sense of paced suspense and drama. The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom is based on records Jones painstakingly unearthed from 300+ year old Spanish archives,. It really amounts to the rescue from time's decay of a story, too often repeated, of the directed destruction of an advanced indigenous people of the New World by European invaders, driven by their greed for wealth and power. Additionally, "Conquest" has great relevance to the present day. I find astonishing the uncanny historical parallels between the current conflict over the construction of a road by the Mexican Government into the Lacandon region of the Chiapas for the military suppression of a popular indigenous revolt, and the creation at great expense by the Spanish colonial government of Yucatan in 1697 of a road from Campeche to Lago Peten Itza for the purposes of "reducing" the virtually uncontacted and intact Itza Maya kingdom that ruled Peten and tens of thousands of Maya living there. Traditional Maya custom is to view history as a series of cycles that repeat, so perhaps the parallels are to be expected. The "The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom" by Grant Jones, an anthropologist, sets force with remarkable detail and scholarship exactly what happened 300 hundred years ago on the Yucatan peninsula, including a detailed examination of the forces and internal conflicts among both the Spanish and the Maya ruling elite regarding the construction of the road through previously unexplored jungle.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SSG James Anderson on February 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a dense but well-written and -researched work. It is simply invaluable as a thoughtful treatment of later Maya social structure, political interaction, and history. Even allowing for the passage of the greater part of a millenia between the collapse of Tikal and the conquest of Noj Peten, students of the Classical Maya will find a great deal to ponder in this work.

I must, in good conscience, voice some reservations.

The author appears to regard his sources as differentially-reliable. A single witness may be regarded as reliable one moment while speaking negatively of the Spaniards, but hopelessly biased and unreliable when speaking negatively of the Maya. In this context, the author particularly takes no account of the widespread antipathy between Spanish military and religious officials in the Americas, diplayed in many instances from the Mission Trail in Spanish Florida to Paraguay in South America (dramatized in the 1986 film 'The Mission').

The author is peculiarly intent on dismissing any evidence or allegation of cannibalism among the Maya -- even when the eyewitness source is Maya himself! He takes extraordinary pains to limit any perceived complicity in human sacrifice -- a very broad cultural phenomenon in Mesoamerica -- to "a very small number... the highest-ranking priests and nobility". Placing the hyperbole of some Spanish commentators into perspective is all very well, but Dr. Jones appears to be deliberately trying to blame -- or excuse -- the various parties for their cultural proclivities.

None of those present at the storming of Noj Peten(including missionaries and captured Maya leaders) claimed massive mortality among the Maya. However, Dr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin T. McGuinness on May 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading "Conquest" and I must say that the story it tells has many classic elements to it. While author Grant Jones is concerned with getting all the facts, dates and listing of sources right, I found the drama behind his words more exciting.
The real story of Nojpeten, the last Maya kingdom to be conquered by the Spanish, is better than fiction. There are political machinations on both the Spanish and Maya sides. Unfortunately for the Maya, the political machinations on their side, namely that their king had essentially lost control of his kingdom, spelled their ultimate doom.
While it is not certain that, in the long run, the Spanish would've maintained their promises of not using force in terms of dealing with the area, attacks by Maya kingdoms adjacent to Nojpeten created the perception that the Maya were not to be trusted.
Overall, I found the information in this book very useful. I found it helped me understand the Maya as a real people, with family and political problems just as we do today. I'd say the only other book that does a better job of describing these elements (on a grander scale) is "Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings" by David Drew.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Bowman on June 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Grant Jones's book The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom is an excellently researched and well written piece. I had the pleasure of taking a course from Dr. Jones in which this book was used and I think that its primary strength is that it is entertaining and gripping as well as informative and educational. If you are interested in Mesoamerican history, you must read this book.
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