• Gold, Stonework and Feathers: Mexica Material Culture and the Making of Hapsburg Europe

      West, Ashley D.; Cooper, Tracy Elizabeth; Hall, Marcia B.; Markey, Lia (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      This dissertation examines the initial contacts and cultural encounters between Europe and the Mexica and investigates the ways in which the Mexica treasures acquired by the conquistadores played a pivotal role in shaping social, cultural, political and religious perceptions and misperceptions about the Mexica, Hapsburgs and their empire, and Europe as a whole in the early sixteenth-century. The initial shipment of art, artifacts, weapons and other goods given to King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V Hapsburg by the Mexica ruler Moctezuma (via Hernán Cortés) arrived in Seville on November 5th, 1519, followed by additional deliveries soon thereafter. The objects included in these shipments would play a significant role in shaping and promoting the newly-expanded imperial identity, while simultaneously contributing to the European audience’s construction of an identity for the indigenous peoples of the New World, doing so through a European vision and recontextualization of pre-Columbian and earlypost-Conquest art and artifacts. This project explores these issues by focusing on three specific media: gold, mosaics (or small stonework) and featherwork, the three media most associated with the indigenous peoples and most coveted by European audiences. In doing so, I seek to understand what it was about these media specifically that inspired their new-found audiences to desire these materials so intensely, above all other forms of production to be found in the pre-Columbian Americas; how each art form fit into existing preconceptions and was used to shape new identities and beliefs about both cultures; and what we learn from answering these questions.