Azcatitlan Codex, folio 23
The Azcatitlan Codex narrates the story of the Aztec-Mexica, the indigenous
population of Mexico. Its name derives from Aztlán, the name given to the
original land of the Aztecs. It is composed of 25 folios written on European paper.
Its date of creation is unknown, but some drawings are accompanied by calligraphy
typical of the late 16th century.
The Codex is comprised of three distinct parts. The first part narrates the
initial Aztec migrations and occupation of the promised land, México-Tenochtitlán.
The history of the dynasty of the Tenochca monarchs, and the subsequent
arrival of the Spaniards, is the subject of the second part. The third and last
part tells the story of the conquest, from the first encounter between Hernán
Cortés and the Emperor Moctezuma to the beginnings of the Colonial period.
The first known reference to this Codex appears in the catalog of the Indian
historical museum of Lorenzo Boturini Benaduci (1702-1755). There are no documented
references from the year 1791 onwards until 1830, when Joseph Marius Alexis Aubin
(1802-1891), director of the École normale superièure de Paris, traveled to Mexico
on a research trip and acquired the manuscript. In 1840 he returned to France
with his library, and in 1889 he sold his collection to Eugene Goupil. Following
Goupil's death, his wife donated the collection to the Bibliothèque Nationale
The folio on display shows the march of the Spaniards toward Mexico in 1519.
A flag depicts the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Spanish soldiers are dressed
in armor, and behind them, Indians carry food. Cortés (with a beard but no hat)
and Malinche (his interpreter) stand at far right. The manuscript is apparently
missing one page, in which Moctezuma and his retinue would be facing Malinche.