Dr. Florine Asselbergs: The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan,
the joint Spanish-Indigenous conquest of Guatemala

Asselbergs, Florine. Conquered Conquistadors. The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan: A Nahua Vision of the Conquest of Guatemala. Boulder: UP of Colorado, 2008. 372 pp. $45.00

Dutch researcher Florine Asselbergs has analyzed a sixteenth century two-by-three meter panel that depicts a joint, Spanish-indigenous conquest of Guatemala. The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan produced by the Quauhquecholteca, an indigenous people from Central America, previously had scarcely been investigated and also were thought to represent campaigns of conquest through Central Mexico.  In fact, it describes key conquests of what is now Guatemala by a joint Spanish-indigenous campaign under the command of Spanish conquistador Jorge de Alvarado between 1527-1529.

Around the year 1400, the Quauhquecholteca settled in present-day San Martín Huaquechula, to the southeast of Mexico City. By fighting with the Spanish, the indigenous people hoped to rid themselves of the tyranny of the Aztecs and to gain their own land and riches. They described their military successes in paintings such as the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan. Not long after this however, the Spaniards brutally overruled all of the peoples in Central America, including the Quauhquecholteca.

The painting depicts a landscape with roads, rivers and places where battles and associated events are marked. It forms an extremely detailed and unique indigenous report of an otherwise scarcely chronicled period, and is also the oldest map of Guatemala. The painting is housed in a museum in the Museo de Alfeñique in Puebla, Mexico.

The Spanish conquest of Central America has mostly been studied using reports from Spanish chroniclers. Indigenous stories and pictures have nearly always been ignored. Therefore, the historical perspective of the conquest has a strong European bias. This study of indigenous sources obtains a more balanced picture of events during the conquest.

Specific parts of the Asselbergs book of interest to the Resplendent Quetzal project include:

Contact information for Dr. Florine Asselbergs:

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