Florentine Codex: Book 8
General History of the Things of New Spain
Bernardino de Sahagún
Translated from the Nahuatl with notes by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble
Two of the world’s leading scholars of the Aztec language and culture have translated Sahagún’s monumental and encyclopedic study of native life in Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest. This immense undertaking is the first complete translation into any language of Sahagún’s Nahuatl text, and represents one of the most distinguished contributions in the fields of anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics.
Written between 1540 and 1585, the Florentine Codex (so named because the manuscript has been part of the Laurentian Library’s collections since at least 1791) is the most authoritative statement we have of the Aztecs’ lifeways and traditions—a rich and intimate yet panoramic view of a doomed people.
The Florentine Codex is divided by subject area into twelve books and includes over 2,000 illustrations drawn by Nahua artists in the sixteenth century.
Book Eight lists the rulers of Tenochtitlan from the first, Acamapichtli, to the sixteenth, Don Cristobal Cecepatic. It also documents the rulers of the ancient Aztec cities of Tlatillco, Texcoco, and Uexotla. Several chapters are devoted to describing the various articles of clothing that the rulers and noblemen wore and the foods they ate for differing ceremonies and activities.
Arthur J. O. Anderson (1907–1996) was an anthropologist specializing in Aztec culture and language. He received his MA from Claremont College and his PhD in anthropology from the University of Southern California. He was a curator of history and director of publications at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe and taught at a number of institutions, including San Diego State University, from which he retired.
Charles E. Dibble (1909–2002) was an anthropologist, linguist, and scholar specializing in Mesoamerican cultures. He received his master’s and doctorate degrees from the Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México and taught at the University of Utah from 1939–1978, where he became a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology.
For their work on the Florentine Codex, both Dibble and Anderson received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor of the Mexican government; from the King of Spain the received the Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica) and the title of Commander (Comendador).
Table of Contents:
1. Which telleth of the rulers and governors who reigned in Mexico from the beginning of [their] rule until the year 1560
2. Which telleth of the rulers who governed in Tlatilulco when the reign had not yet perished and when, later, once again the Spaniards gave back and restored [it] to them, until the year 1560
3. Where are told the rulers of Texcoco, and as many years as they governed
4. In which are recorded the rulers of Uexotla
5. In which it is told how many four hundreds of years ago Tollan was destroyed, up to [the present] year of 1565
6. In which it is told how signs and omens appeared and were seen, when the Spaniards had not yet come to this land, and when they were yet unknown to the dwelleth here
7. In which are told many things which came to pass when the Spaniards had not yet come to this land, until the year '50
8. In which are told the various articles with which they adorned the rulers and noblemen—which they placed on them when they were bedight in capes and breech clouts
9. In which is told that which the rulers were arrayed when they danced
10. In which is told how the rulers took their pleasure
11. Here it is told what the rulers rested upon
12. In which it is told how the rulers were arrayed whom they sent to the wars
13. Here are told the foods which the lords ate
14. Here are described the palace and the houses of the lords....
15. In which is described the adornment of the women
16. In which it is told how the woman were trained
17. In which are told the exercises of the rulers and how they might perform well their office and their government
18. In which it is told how they chose those who would govern
19. In which is described the ordering of the market place, and [how] the ruler took great care of it
20. In which is told how all arose through the ranks until they became judges
Appendix A: continuation of the Fourth Paragraph, Chapter Fourteen
Appendix B: continuation of the Twentieth Chapter
Appendix C: continuation of the Twenty-first Chapter
Praise and Reviews:
“Highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries.”
“A great scholarly enterprise.”
—New Mexico Historical Review
“Bringing the knowledge of modern scholarship to bear on their materials, the translators have been able to illuminate many obscurities in the text. The complete series of volumes is a landmark of scholarly achievement.”
—The New Mexican
“This publication of Sahagún makes available to scholars and their students alike the original Nahuatl text for comparison with the more easily accessible Spanish text, which is in many places merely an abridgment or précis of the original. A whole series of native sources for the study of Mexican pre-conquest history is now at hand for a field of historical study formerly restricted to a small number of investigators. A whole chapter of the cultural history of early Colonial Mexico is unfolding before us. [The Codex is] an impressive monument to Spanish humanism in the sixteenth-century New World.”
—The Hispanic American Historical Review
“Sahagún emerges as the indisputable founder of ethnographic science. The accomplishments of the joint translators, Dibble and Anderson, will surely rank among the greatest achievements of American ethnohistorical scholarship.”