In Conflictos y alianzas María Castañeda de la Paz unravels the political and dynastic histories of the Mexica and the Tepaneca, two of the largest and most powerful ancestral groups among the Nahuatl-speaking peoples of Late Postclassic and early colonial Mexico. Yet this is no simple task, given the political and ethnic complexity of the Nahua world as well as the eclectic and contradictory nature of many historical sources. Beyond archaeology, much of Nahua political history is revealed in colonial-era artifacts, each requiring its own careful methodology and interpretive filter—from painted codices and pictorial manuscripts, to alphabetic texts in Spanish and Nahuatl derived from oral traditions and songs yet reflecting the influence of Spanish clergy, to colonial legal and administrative documents.

It is in this regard that we should recognize Conflictos y alianzas as a considerable achievement. While “Aztec history” as a...

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