In the spring of 1519, Hernán Cortés and his expedition landed on the coast of what would become Mexico. Shortly thereafter, they began to distance themselves from Diego Velázquez, governor of Cuba, and set the expedition inexorably toward Tenochtitlan and the conquest of the Mexica. The critical document explaining those events, the petition of the town of Veracruz, was lost from the historical record. Now, after nearly 500 years, two books have published and analyzed this petition, appearing within months of one another. The present volume is one of those; I wrote the other with the assistance of Helen Nader, published by the University of Texas Press. One of the more remarkable features of the petition is that it was signed by the members of the Cortés expedition. Although most sources indicate that around 500 men accompanied Cortés, only some 340 signatures...

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