A turquoise two-headed serpent mouth ajar, heads pointing in different directions.

Digital Membership event

The story of the Aztecs in their own words

In this digital discussion, watch Distinguished Professor of History Camilla Townsend share insights into the world of the Aztecs using their written sources.

In November 1519, Hernando Cortés walked along a causeway leading to the capital of the Aztec kingdom and came face to face with Moctezuma. That story – and the story of what happened afterwards – has been told many times, but always following the narrative offered by the Spaniards. Sources written by the Aztecs in their own language of Nahautl offer us a window into their world and a new way of considering their history. Until recently, these sources remained obscure, only partially translated, and rarely consulted by scholars.

In this video lecture, historian Camilla Townsend shared the epic story of the Aztecs, told in their own words. Drawing from her book Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs, she presented an accessible and humanised depiction of these native Mexicans, in contrast to the European stereotypes that have dominated our understanding of the Aztecs until now.

Camilla Townsend is Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the author of numerous books, including Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico, Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma and The Annals of Native America: How the Nahuas of Colonial Mexico Kept Their History Alive.

Watch the event