Sources for the Colonial Mexico

Akademische Druck – u. Verlagsanstalt – Graz CODICES

Web Sites

On-line versions of many codices.

Troop of Shewe: Salute 07- Siege of Tenochtitlan

Pictures of the game created by Troop of Shewe and demonstrated by the Escape Committee. Lovely stuff and very impressive in the flesh. I was pleased to discover that Neil and Karl from the Troop of Shewe used my web site as one of their painting guides.

Chronofus: The Aztecs

Lots of interesting stuff including a very comprehensive painting guide.

The Aztecs

A site with lots of graphics. Very handy if you don’t have access to a copy of the Codex Mendoza.

Aztecs / Nahuatl / Tenochtitlán

Has some links and a list of the Aztec rulers and gods.

Conquistadors: The Fall of the Aztecs

A nice little history with pictures.

The Aztec Empire (broken link) — Jane Stevenson Day

Brief descriptions of a couple of Mexican peoples:



Anonimo Mexicano (broken link) – a Nahuatl history written about AD 1600 in the city of Tlaxcala.

Tlahuica Peoples of Morelos (broken link) – Dr Michael Smith.

Very brief description of one of the people’s conquered by the Aztecs.

From the “People” to the “Nation” – Thomas Ward

About the Chichimec.

Aztecs: a new perspective:

John M.D. Pohl – author of a couple of the Osprey books on the Aztecs – reviews recent scholarship about the empire swept away by Cortes.


Aztec Script

A good little introduction on how to read Aztec glyphs and toponyms (place names).

Mixtec Script

Ditto for the Mixtecs.

Zapotec Script

Ditto for Zapotecs.

Les Toponymes [French]

A groovy site giving the and toponyms (place names) of many Mexican cities.

Online Books

History of the Conquest of Mexico
— William Hickling Prescott (1796-1859) Life in Mexico, During a Residence of Two Years in That Country (1843) by Frances Calderon de la Barca

Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan, Mexico Written by a Companion of Hernan Cortes, The Anonymous Conqueror.


Aztecs from the Kador 1er site

Some nicely painted Aztecs. I particularly like their baggage train climbing a hill.

DBA Theme – Armies of America

Aztec and Enemies: DBA 105 Army and Variants – David Kuijt

Small but very good site. Features shots of David’s beautiful Aztec army, his scratch-built temple, and links to other sites of interest

Actions with Aztecs – Gavin Pearson

Some nice shots of some beautiful Tlaxcalans.

Meet the Aztecs – Jim Esler

A very good description of how to define Aztecs in terms of DBM, a revised army list based on this analysis, hints as to which 15 mm figures to use for the army and a painting guide. .

I believe this is the same or similar to articles Jim wrote about Aztecs for Slingshot. In issue 187 (Sept 96) and issue 195 (Jan 98) and issue 202 (Mar 99).


All of these have examples of Aztec buildings

Primary sources

Many of these are readily available – try or and search for “Mexican Codex”.

Anderson, A.J.O., and Schroeder, S. (Eds) (). Codex Chimalpahin: Society and Politics in Mexico Tenochtitlan, Tlatelolco, Texcoco, Culhuacan, and Other Nahua Altepetl in Central Mexico (The Civilization of the American Indian Series)

Bierhorst, J. (Trans). (). History and Mythology of the Aztecs: The Codex Chimalpopoca

Berdan, F.F. & Anawalt, P.R. (1997). The Essential Codex Mendoza. LA: University of California Press.

Apparently very good. The full version has 4 volumes however the condensed version only has volumes 2 and 4 (translations of Spanish annotations), plus a subset of the colour plates from volume 3.

Casas, Bartolomé De Las (1992). A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies [N. Griffin Ed. Trans.]. Penguin.

Cruz, M. de la, and Gates, W. (). Aztec Herbal: The Classic Codex of 1552.

This 16th-century codex was the first herbal and medical text compiled in the New World.

Diaz, G. and Rodgers, A. (). Codex Borgia : A Full-Color Restoration of the Ancient Mexican Manuscript.

The original Mexican codex (now in Vatican Library) is thought to have originated in the Cholula area, around 1400. This is a repainting, i.e. a presentation of this Codex as it looked when “fresh off the presses”, thus is a better quality than photographic reproductions. It contains 76 large full-color plates showing gods, kings, warriors, mythical creatures and abstract designs. Starts with a good introduction covering many of the plates.

Durán, D. (1964). The Aztecs: The History of the Indies of New Spain. D. Heyden and F. Horcasitas (trans.). London: Cassell.

Fuentes, P. de. (ed. and trans.) (1963). The Conquistadors: First-Person accounts of the Conquest of Mexico. London: Cassell.

Contains a number of smaller accounts:

  • The Chronicle of Juan Díaz.
  • The Chronicle of Andres de Tapía
  • The Third Letter of Cortés.
  • The Chronicle of Fray Francisco de Aguilar
  • The Chronicle of the Anonymous Conquistador.
  • Two Letters of Pedro de Alvarado
  • The Chronicle of García del Pilar

Keber, E. Q and Besson, M. (). Codex Telleriano-Remensis : Ritual, Divination, and History in a Pictorial Aztec Manuscript.

A photographic color facsimile of the entire codex. Produced in sixteenth-century colonial Mexico, the codex consists of a ceremonial calendar of the “months” of the year, a divinatory almanac featuring the deities that determined the fates of the days, and a history of the Aztecs from their legendary migration in the twelfth century through the first decades of Spanish occupation. Extensive commentary accomanies the abundant images and Spanish annotations.

Nuttall, Z. (Ed) (). The Codex Nuttall

A reproduction of the original which is now kept in the British Museum.Essentially a historical geneological representation of the Mixtec kings from 838 A.D. to 1330 A. focussing on 8-Deer Tiger Claw. Little explanation accompanies the pictures.

Sahagún, B. de (1954a) Florentine Codex: A General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 8 ? Kings and Lords. A.J.O. Anderson and C.E. Bibble (trans.) School of American Research. Santa Fe.

Sahagún, B. de (1954b) Florentine Codex: A General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 10 – The People. A.J.O. Anderson and C.E. Dibble (trans.). School of American Research. Santa Fe.

Villacorta, J. A., and Villacorta, C. A. () The Dresden Codex: Drawings of the Pages.

The drawings are the reason to buy the book. It is the standard b&w reference on the Dresden codex, produced in 1930. Reproduces the original in b&w with solid for black and outlines for red. The commentary is in Spanish and based off the work of Ernst Förstemann more than 30 years before

Secondary Sources

Bray, W. 1968 Everyday Life of the Aztecs. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York.

Davis, N. (1973). The Aztecs: A History. London: Macmillan.

Quite good history of the Aztecs from the earliest times through to the conquest.

Duckworth, P. (1992, Nov). The Death of Quetzalcoatl: Fall of the Feathered Serpent. The Conquest of the Aztecs. Wargames Illustrated, 62, pp. 12-13.

Interesting wee article about adapting DBA for Spanish fighting Aztecs.

Heath, I. (1999). Armies of the 16th Century 2: The Armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores,1450-1608. Foundry Books.

Excellent – a must have for anybody interested in warfare in the Americas. The only draw back is the otherwise superb drawings are black and white.

Pohl, J. M. D. (1991). Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies (Men-at-Arms 239). Oxford: Osprey.

I’m not a fan of the Pohl books. Pretty pictures but I’m dubious about some of the content.

Wise, T. (1980). The Conquistadors. Osprey. London.

Fairly typical Osprey – nice piccies, minimal text. Includes a dubious drawing by Anton Hoffman of a Arrow Knight; dubious because the Aztec’s didn’t have Arrow Knights and because Hoffman often mixed fantasy into his pictures (Meet the Aztecs).

Books I know about but haven’t seen yet

Hassig, R. (1988). Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control.

?? (??). Aztec Warrior 1325-1521 AD (Warrior 32). Osprey.

From Meet the Aztecs web page by Jim Esler …

Bandelier, A.F. (1877). On the art of war and mode of warfare of the ancient Mexicans. Tenth Annual Report of the Peabody Museum, 95-161.

The original of the mistaken suggestion that the Aztecs had Arrow Knights.

Berdan, F.F. 1982 The Aztecs of Central Mexico: An Imperial Society. Harcourt Brace. Fort Worth.

1982 Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. Edición crítica por Carmelo Sáenz de Santa María. Instituto Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, C.S.I.C. Madrid.

Gruzinski, S. 1992 Painting the Conquest: The Mexican Indians and the European Renaissance. D. Dusinberre (trans.). Flammarion. Paris.

1992 War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica. University of California Press. Berkeley.

1993 Primeros Memoriales. Facsimile edition, F. Anders (photographer). The Civilization of the American Indian Series 200, pt.1. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman.

1997 Primeros Memoriales: Paleography of Nahuatl Text and English Translation. T.D. Sullivan (trans.). The Civilization of the American Indian Series 200, pt.2. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman.

Sullivan, T.D. 1972 The arms and insignia of the Mexica. Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl 10:155?193.

Vaillant, G.C. (1944). The Aztecs of Mexico. Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc. New York.

Passes on Bandelier’s (1877) mistaken suggestion that the Aztecs had Arrow Knights.

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