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New World of Martin Cortes

New World of Martin Cortes by Anna Lanyon
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Martin Cortes was the illegitimate son of the conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous American woman who translated for him - the legendary Malinche.

Martin was born into a new world, when Europeans were discovering theirs was not the only world - a time of hybridity, when cultures were transplanted and new mixtures of races began, when globalisation first became a possibility. Martin's destiny was to cross these worlds in many ways. Taken from his mother as an infant (shades of Australia's 'stolen children'), he was raised in Cuba by paternal relatives. At six he went to Spain with his father, to become a page in the service of the Spanish prince, eventually accompanying him to England in 1555 for Mary Tudor's wedding. Later Martin fought as a soldier of Spain in Germany, France and Algeria, yet was ultimately fated to resist the Spanish Crown, and to die far from anywhere he might call home.

Ten years after Martin's birth, Hernan Cortes had his first legitimate child by his aristocratic Spanish wife, whom he also named Martin Cortes, after his own father - and so a bewildering riddle of identity ensued for future historians. To later Mexicans the story of Martin Cortes was to resonate powerfully as an allegory of archetypal dimensions in their resistance to Spain. Martin Cortes, the first mestizo<\i>, became an emblem of their struggle, while Martin Cortes, el legitimo<\i>, of pure Spanish blood, symbolised all that they despised in their Iberian overlords.

Like Lanyon's earlier book, this one is an engrossing and evocative story, bringing to life those extraordinary times in the16th century when new worlds opened up between the peoples of Europe and others hardly dreamed of. It is a plangent tale of intrigue and identity, exploring Martin Cortes' relations with his famous father, his half-brother, and his mother's people; between his Spanish and New World loyalties. It is a stimulating reflection on the processes of history and legend, and on the nature of the human spirit caught between conflicting worlds.
Allen & Unwin; September 2003
288 pages; ISBN 9781741153361
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Title: New World of Martin Cortes
Author: Anna Lanyon