4. What makes this lienzo so special?

  1. It is considered the first map of Guatemala.
  2. It is the only firsthand indigenous account of the conquest of Guatemala.
  3. It supplies new details on the conquest of Guatemala, such as the routes taken, individual battles engaged, war tactics, specific towns conquered, and costume.
  4. It corrects the record.

a. History books traditionally attribute the conquest of Guatemala to the Spanish captain Pedro de Alvarado. Although Pedro had tried to conquer Guatemala in 1524, he abandoned the effort to return to Spain to defend his interests before the royal court. The Lienzo tells us that it was really his brother, Jorge de Alvarado, who headed the Spanish army in the campaign that ended in the conquest of Guatemala, from 1527 to 1530.

b. The role traditionally attributed to indigenous allies in the conquest of Guatemala has been one of support and subservience: foot soldiers, porters, and service providers. The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan describes a very different relationship, placing the Quauhquecholteca on a par with the Spanish as captains and frontline protagonists.