- History and Women
From the Author
But it's not a war story - it's a love story.
Hernan Cortes wasprobably one of the greatest of the conquistadores - which is a back handedcompliment in a way, like being the best of the Nazis or being named Terroristof the Year. He was a man of ruthless genius, a Christian crusader possessed ofunparalleled greed, even for those times.
He defeated the Aztecs through an astonishing bluff. He tookthe pot and the game with nothing in his hand. Through good fortune, steelydetermination, and the help of a Mexican slave girl he achieved what wouldotherwise have been considered impossible.
Her name was Malinali.
Her exact origins are unclear -she was thought to have beena Mayan princess by some - but her place in Mexican history is unparalleled.Without her, Cortes would have got no further than the beach.
In almost every contemporary drawing and painting she is atCortes' side, whispering in his ear. She was the only one who ever knew whatwas being said by both sides, the only one who spoke both Spanish and nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.
Both concubine and translator to Cortes, her motives andwhat she said and how she said it will always be a matter of debate - it iswhat makes hers such a gripping and intriguing story. She and Cortes make oneof the most extraordinary pairings in all history.
Theirs is a story of impossible odds, unimaginable cruelty,extraordinary courage and craven betrayal.
Today the Aztecs are a distant memory. But Malinali's namelives on. This book spent four months on the best seller lists in Mexico,re-igniting debate yet again about the true heritage of a people and the verynature of western colonisation of the natural world.