Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain

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University of Texas Press, 2000 - Social Science - 309 pages
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In villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The performances officially celebrate the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies. Such an explanation does not, however, account for the tradition’s persistence for more than five hundred years nor for its widespread diffusion. In this perceptive book, Max Harris seeks to understand the "puzzling and enduring passion" of both Mexicans and Spaniards for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances’ roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then, using James Scott’s distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Finally, he documents the early arrival of native American performance practices in Europe and the shift of moros y cristianos from court to folk tradition in Spain. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, mock battles between Aztecs, Moors, and Christians remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.
 

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Contents

Beheading the Moor Zacatecas 1996
3
Reading the Mask Cuetzalan 1988
18
Spain 11501521
29
A Royal Wedding Lleida 1150
31
A Medley of Battles Zaragoza 12861414
37
A Martyrdom with Hobby Horses Barcelona 1424
43
A Game of Canes Jaén 1462
54
Mexico 13211521
65
The Tensions of Empire Mexico City 15651595
148
The Travels of Alonso Ponce New Spain 15841589
153
The Conquest of New Mexico 1598
161
Spain 15211600
171
Touring Aztecs 15221529
173
Royal Entries Toledo 1533 and Naples 1543
179
Great Balls of Fire Trent 1549
184
Noble Fantasies Binche 1549 and Rouen 1550
198

The Fields of the Wars of Flowers
67
The Festival of the Sweeping of the Roads
74
The Festival of the Raising of the Banners
85
The Festival of the Flaying of Men
94
The Dance of the Emperor Motecuzoma
105
Mexico 15211600
115
The Conquest of Mexico 15241536
117
The Conquest of Rhodes Mexico City 1539
123
The Conquest ofJerusalem Tlaxcala 1539
132
Fêted Dreams of Peace Andalusia 15611571
206
Changing Tastes Daroca to Valencia 15851586
216
Gilded Indians 15211600
227
Epilogue
235
Dancing with Malinche New Mexico and Oaxaca 19931994
237
Notes
251
Bibliography
281
Index
299
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About the author (2000)

Max Harris is Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of The Dialogical Theatre: Dramatizations of the Conquest of Mexico and the Question of the Other.

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