On Savage Shores How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2023-01-24
Publisher(s): Knopf
List Price: $32.50

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A landmark work of narrative history that shatters our previous Eurocentric understanding of the Age of Discovery by focusing on the experiences of Native Americans who journeyed across the Atlantic to Europe, beginning in the fifteenth century, and influenced European civilization

We have long been taught to presume that modern global history began when the Old World encountered the New, when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492. But, as Caroline Dodds Pennock conclusively shows in this groundbreaking book, for tens of thousands of Aztecs, Mayans, and Totonacs—enslaved people, diplomats, explorers, servants, traders—the reverse was also true: they discovered Europe. For them, Europe comprised savage shores, a land of riches and marvels, yet perplexing for its brutal disparities of wealth and quality of life, and its baffling beliefs. The story of these Mesoamericans abroad is a story of abduction, loss, cultural appropriation, and, as they saw it, of apocalypse—a story that has largely been absent from our collective imagination of the times. From the Mayan king who met Henry VIII to the Aztecs who mocked up human sacrifice at the court of Charles V; from the Inuk baby who was put on show in a London pub to the mestizo children of Spaniards who returned “home” with their fathers; from the Inuit who harpooned ducks on the Avon to the phalanxes of servants employed by European aristocracy: here are a people who were rendered exotic if not subhuman, demeaned, and marginalized, but whose worldviews and cultures had a profound impact on European civilization. Drawing on their surviving literature and poetry and subtly layering European eyewitness accounts against the grain, Pennock gives us a sweeping account of the Native American presence in, and impact on, early modern Europe.

Author Biography

CAROLINE DODDS PENNOCK is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Mesoamerica. Trained at Oxford, she is senior lecturer in international history at the University of Sheffield. Her study of Aztec human sacrifice, Bonds of Blood, won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize in 2008. She has appeared as a presenter on history series on the BBC and Netflix, and has written for BBC History Magazine, History Today, and Scientific American

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