Rhetorical Conquests: Cortes, Gomara, and Renaissance by Glen Carman

By Glen Carman

This examine examines Hern?n Cort?s, first because the writer of Cartas de relaci?n (1519-1526), after which because the protagonist of Francisco L?pez de G?mara's Historia de los angeles conquista de M?xico (1552). It analyzes how those bills characterize his speech acts, together with a few of his key speeches; how they permit him to outline the conquest in several how you can diverse audiences; and the way they characterize him as controlling the speech acts of others, so much particularly these of Moctezuma.

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Additional info for Rhetorical Conquests: Cortes, Gomara, and Renaissance Imperialism (Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures, Vol. 35)

Example text

This question takes on a particular relevance for the New-World narratives, which have to contend with new creatures, landscapes, peoples, and customs: a seemingly unprecedented lack of decorum. The humanists, especially the vast majority of them who never crossed the Atlantic, cannot help but render the strange familiar by incorporating it into their notions of what is acceptable, or at least comprehensible. But Renaissance aesthetics also has a place, indeed a commonplace, for the uncommon. The “marvelous” is a recurring theme not only in poetry but also in travel writing, and so, inevitably, in the supposedly nonfictional genre of the New-World chronicle.

To give his position at least the appearance of legality, Cortés made a pretense of following orders and preparing to return to Cuba. When his men protested, he “yielded” to their demands to set up a permanent colony on the mainland. Cortés founded a town, the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, and appointed a town council and magistrates. The town council promptly elected him chief justice of the settlement and captain-general of the royal army. Through such maneuvers Cortés severed all formal ties to Velázquez.

The unnamed Spanish historian uses “unsuitably vulgar words” (23v) and digresses in his narration to describe a message scrawled in charcoal on the wall of a cell by a “common soldier” who was held captive and was awaiting sacrifice. For Fox Morcillo such detours are 41 Chapter One wholly inappropriate to the lofty theme of conquest (21–22v). 38 As was customary among his humanist contemporaries, Fox Morcillo views historical discourse within a framework that is primarily rhetorical, and his veiled critique of López de Gómara goes beyond the question of subject matter to include the rhetorical categories of arrangement and style.

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