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El encuentro de Cortés y Moctezuma: The betrothal of two worlds in eighteenth-century new Spain

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Chapter Summary

An anonymous eighteenth-century painting titled El encuentro de Cortés y Moctezuma is an ideal case for discussion because it presents a distinct interpretation of a ubiquitous historical subject in the American viceroyalty. The image depicts the initial meeting between the Mexican leader, Moctezuma, and the Spanish conquistador, Fernando Cortés. Paintings of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph are embedded in altarpieces situated in religious spaces such as churches or convents, or perhaps private chapels. Society in eighteenth-century Mexico City was composed of a highly diverse ethnic population, stratified by social rank and color. Gender categories defined social status and guided social relations, determining the power dynamics between individuals. Mestizaje, in the eighteenth century, served as a link that bridged the pre-Hispanic past with the elites of the then present.

Keywords: Fernando Cortés; Mestizaje; Moctezuma; Spanish conquistador



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