Cover image for The conquest of the last Maya kingdom
The conquest of the last Maya kingdom
Jones, Grant D., 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xxvii, 568 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
The Itzas and their neighbors -- Itza-Spanish encounters, 1525-1690 -- Itza society and kingship on the eve of conquest -- Power politics -- The birth of the Camino Real -- Franciscans on the Camino Real -- The Itza emissaries -- Avendaño and Ajaw Kan Ek' -- Itza-Spanish warfare -- The costs of the Camino Real -- The eve of conquest -- Occupation and interrogation -- Prisoners of conquest -- Reconquest, epidemic, and warfare -- Missions, rebellion, and survival.
Reading Level:
1640 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1465.2.I87 J65 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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On March 13, 1697, Spanish troops from Yucatán attacked and occupied Nojpeten, the capital of the Maya people known as Itzas, the inhabitants of the last unconquered native New World kingdom. This political and ritual center--located on a small island in a lake in the tropical forests of northern Guatemala--was densely covered with temples, royal palaces, and thatched houses, and its capture represented a decisive moment in the final chapter of the Spanish conquest of the Mayas.The capture of Nojpeten climaxed more than two years of preparation by the Spaniards, after efforts by the military forces and Franciscan missionaries to negotiate a peaceful surrender with the Itzas had been rejected by the Itza ruling council and its ruler Ajaw Kan Ek'. The conquest, far from being final, initiated years of continued struggle between Yucatecan and Guatemalan Spaniards and native Maya groups for control over the surrounding forests. Despite protracted resistance from the native inhabitants, thousands of them were forced to move into mission towns, though in 1704 the Mayas staged an abortive and bloody rebellion that threatened to recapture Nojpeten from the Spaniards.The first complete account of the conquest of the Itzas to appear since 1701, this book details the layers of political intrigue and action that characterized every aspect of the conquest and its aftermath. The author critically reexamines the extensive documentation left by the Spaniards, presenting much new information on Maya political and social organization and Spanish military and diplomatic strategy.This is not only one of the most detailed studies of any Spanish conquest in the Americas but also one of the most comprehensive reconstructions of an independent Maya kingdom in the history of Maya studies. In presenting the story of the Itzas, the author also reveals much about neighboring lowland Maya groups with whom the Itzas interacted, often violently.

Author Notes

Grant D. Jones is Charles A. Dana Professor of Anthropology at Davidson College and the author, most recently, of Maya Resistance to Spanish Rule: Time and History on a Colonial Front .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Jones, an ethnohistorian, provides a detailed analytical account of the conquest of the Itza Mayas led by Martin de Ursua y Arizmendi in 1697. Following three chapters on the Itza and their neighbors, Spanish-Itza contact before 1690, and Itza society and kingship, he traces Ursua's ploy to construct a road to connect Merida, Yucatan with Guatemala when his real intention was military conquest of the region around Lago Peten Itza. The participants in the unfolding drama include competing Spanish factions based in Guatemala and Yucatan, secular clergy and Franciscans, and divided native peoples. Political intrigue, warfare, hardship, food shortages, native rebellion in 1704, and epidemic disease all took their toll in a sad chronicle marked by sparse Spanish rewards but extensive damage to native society. Jones has mined archives in Spain and Guatemala as well as relevant printed primary sources and secondary works to provide a fully documented and at times fascinating narrative. Colleges and universities that offer courses in colonial Latin American history, ethnohistory, and anthropology should purchase this study, a complement to the author's earlier Maya Resistance to Spanish Rule (CH, May'90). Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. A. Burkholder; University of Missouri--St. Louis

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Spelling and Pronunciation in Mayan Languagesp. xiii
Introductionp. xix
Part 1 The Itza Worldp. 1
Chapter 1 the Itzas and Their Neighborsp. 3
Chapter 2 Itza-Spanish Encounters, 1525-1690p. 29
Chapter 3 Itza Society And Kingship On The Eve Of Conquestp. 60
Part 2 Road To The Itzasp. 109
Chapter 4 Power Politicsp. 111
Chapter 5 the Birth of the Camino Realp. 129
Chapter 6 Franciscans on the Camino Realp. 148
Part 3 The Peace Seekersp. 165
Chapter 7 the Itza Emissariesp. 167
Chapter 8 Avendaño and Ajaw Kan Ek'p. 187
Part 4 Prelude To Conquestp. 221
Chapter 9 Itza-Spanish Warfarep. 223
Chapter 10 the Costs of the Camino Realp. 245
Chapter 11 the Eve of Conquestp. 265
Part 5 Victims and Survivors Of Conquestp. 293
Chapter 12 Occupation and Interrogationp. 295
Chapter 13 Prisoners of Conquestp. 323
Chapter 14 Reconquest, Epidemic, and Warfarep. 356
Chapter 15 Missions, Rebellion, and Survivalp. 387
Reference Matterp. 423
Notesp. 425
Glossaryp. 523
References Citedp. 527
Indexp. 539