Samuel Puchas, Purchas his pilgrimes, vol. 3 (London, 1625)

Samuel Puchas, Purchas his pilgrimes, vol. 3 (London, 1625)
Winchester College Fellows' Library

Samuel Purchas (1575-1626) was an English cleric and traveler but is best known for his publication of the accounts of others. While riddled with inaccuracies, his works are valuable contemporary sources of travel in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

This specific work contains woodcut renditions of the mid-sixteenth-century Mexican codex, known as the Codex Mendoza, made while the Codex was in his possession in early years of the seventeenth century. The original codex was given to the Bodleian in Oxford in 1659, where it has since remained. The Codex was commissioned for the King of Spain, Phillip II (1527-1598), through Don Antonio de Mendoza (1495-1552) the then Viceroy of New Spain, though it never made it into the King’s possession. Mendoza hired indigenous people to record information about the Aztec Empire, so that their culture could be understood in Western Europe. The pages shown here display a history of sorts, with the date shown in the banding around the edge of the page. At the centre of the page, on top of a nopal pedestal, is a Mexican golden eagle devouring a rattle snake. This relates to the foundation myth of the city-state of Tenochtitlan, according to which their patron deity, Huitzilopochtli, told the earliest settlers to establish a city where they saw this sign.