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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 3: 1400-1800$
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José Rabasa, Masayuki Sato, Edoardo Tortarolo, and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199219179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199219179.001.0001

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A New History for a ‘New World’

A New History for a ‘New World’

The First One Hundred Years of Hispanic New World Historical Writing

(p.556) Chapter 27 A New History for a ‘New World’
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Kira von Ostenfeld-Suske

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the incipient histories of the New World by looking at how the Spanish conceived of New World history, and ultimately what these histories broadcast to Europe. These New World writings fall into four broad categories: eyewitness accounts of the ‘discovery’ and ‘conquest’; the work of armchair historians (who never left Spain) who sought to make sense of the New World; ethnographies by the friars who carried out the spiritual conquest; and the great literature that fuelled the debate about the moral, philosophical, legal, religious, and ethnographic implications of the conquest, written by official historians and religious men, not all of whom had set foot in the New World. By examining the key texts of this New World historiography, and focusing on the themes and genres that these new kinds of works addressed, the chapter traces how historical writing took part in the changing influences and image of the New World, revealing that the significance of these works resides more with the authors, methods, and purpose of the accounts than what they were relating.

Keywords:   Spanish historical writing, historiography, New World, historical texts

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