Almost six decades ago, Charles Gibson applied his characteristic economy to the task of tracing the trajectory of the Aztec aristocracy through the colonial era. The unique path of this social group led from early and successful attempts to preserve social and economic status to an eventual decline brought about by factors including tributary policies adopted in response to demographic collapse in the sixteenth century. With the exception of Tlaxcala, where cacique families enjoyed remarkable continuity in government well into the eighteenth century, the fate of the Aztec nobility was largely sealed during the first century of Spanish presence.

In his engaging and comprehensive Indigenous Elites and Creole Identity in Colonial Mexico, 1500–1800, Professor Peter Villella takes the reader beyond this well-established narrative to examine the conditions and strategies that allowed generations of indigenous noble families from diverse ethnic groups to...

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