Compared still to what we know about Mexico and Peru, the historiography of colonial Guatemala, despite notable advances, continues to lag behind, registering minimally in the Latin American scholarly imagination. The field is surveyed by examining some of the issues that have intrigued the author over the course of his career. Personal reflections are offered of research activities that engage indigenous resistance to Spanish intrusion, demographic collapse in the wake of conquest, the link between disease outbreaks and Maya demise, and the role played by Pedro de Alvarado (1485–1541) in attaining imperial objectives. Scrutiny of the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, a sixteenth-century source the contents of which have been incisively reappraised, affords fuller appreciation of strategic Indian involvement in the act of subjugation. Alvarado, a key protagonist in the conquest of Mexico, also harbored ambitions to muscle in on the conquest of Peru, a little-known episode that awaits further investigation. The conqueror’s own life, like Central America itself, may indeed have been a rainbow of Spanish illusions, pots of gold dreamed of, lost and found at native expense.

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