Download A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the by Amy Butler Greenfield PDF

By Amy Butler Greenfield

Within the 16th century, one of many world's most beneficial commodities used to be cochineal, a mythical purple dye valuable by way of the traditional Mexicans and bought within the nice Aztec marketplaces, the place it attracted the eye of the Spanish conquistadors. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, generating the brightest, most powerful pink the area had ever visible. quickly Spain's cochineal monopoly used to be worthy a fortune. because the English, French, Dutch, and different Europeans joined the chase for cochineal -- a chase that lasted for greater than 3 centuries -- a story of pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies unfolds. an ideal crimson inspires with sort and verve this historical past of a grand obsession, of intrigue, empire, and event in pursuit of the main fascinating colour on the earth.

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Extra resources for A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire

Sample text

Patterned after this medieval encomienda system, Cortés’s grants were eventually awarded to about half the conquistadors who survived the battle for Tenochtitlán, with the greatest number going to those men who had been with Cortés since the first days of the Conquest. In Mexico, as in Spain, the men who held encomiendas were called encomenderos, and the grants they received involved certain 56 A Perfect Red limitations. For instance, they held their villages as vassals of their sovereign; they did not own the land outright.

His taste in art and entertainment also owed more to his northern European upbringing than to Spanish ideals, and Spain’s austere court was shocked by what they saw as the young king’s outlandish ways. Spaniards soon concluded the king’s heart was not truly with them—which was no more than the truth. ) In Charles’s day, the Holy Roman Empire was a loose agglomeration of territories that stretched across Europe; at its core were the German principalities. Charles’s grandfather Maximilian I had reigned over this disparate empire for many years, but the title was not hereditary, being instead decided by seven electors—three archbishops and four noblemen from central Europe.

He then persuaded the army to “elect” a town council of his own choosing— a council that promptly relieved him of Velázquez’s commission and elected him captain of the army and chief justice of Veracruz. Under Spanish law, this election made Cortés his own man: he no longer had to bow to the wishes of Velázquez but instead derived his authority directly from Spain. And since Spain was three thousand miles away, Cortés was, for the time being, virtually a law unto himself. Not everyone supported Cortés’s bold move, but the new chief justice found it easy enough to silence his critics: any conquistador who opposed him was chained in irons.

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