If Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, The Discovery
If we look at the
history of the Conquest of Mexico we will see many famous figures: Antón de
Alaminos, Cuauhtémoc, Cuitláhuac, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Moctezuma
Xocoyotzin, Hernán Cortés. Among all of these man, barely even mentioned, there
is a woman, symbol of the Mexican identity, mother of the first ‘Mexican’, ‘el
personaje ausente siempre presente de la historia de Mexico’ (Malinche’s
Conquest, Anna Lanyon,1999). She is referred to as ‘La Malinche’. History has
given her many names: Malinalli, Marina, Malintzin, Malinche, as if she has many
identities. And she does, as she was and still is perceived extremely different
Malinche had a key
role in the Conquest of Mexico, yet there is not much information about her and
she will always remain Cortes’s shadow.
In Mexico Malinche
is consider a traitor, people despise her, they say she has betrayed her own
people and she is guilty for the destruction of the Aztec Empire. But are all
these accusations real? In order to judge Malinche we have to know her story
Malinche was born around
1501 in a noble nahua family. She was the daughter of the Cacique(a military
chief) of Pynala, therefore a member of a privileged class.
Her father died
when she was very young, and her mother remarried another Cacique with whom she
had a son. According to Díaz ‘it seems
that the father and mother had a great affection for this son and it was agreed
between them that he should succeed to their honours when their days were done.
So that there should be no impediment to this, they gave the little girl, Doña
Marina, to some Indians from Xicalango’ Díaz del Castillo, Bernal, The
Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, 1517-1521.1585)
The Indians from
Xicalango sold her to the ruling cacique of Tabasco, a province situated on the
Yucatan coast. There she learn Mayan
and by the arrival of Cortes in 1519 she already
knew two languages.
After the takeover
of Tabasco, los Chontales offered twenty women as slaves to the Spaniards.
Between them was Malinalli. She was
christened Doña Marina and given to Alonzo Hernandez Puertocarrero, but when he
left to Spain, Cortés took her as his translator. She became very close to him
and bore him a son, Martin Cortés, the first mestizo.