Hugh Thomas, 1993

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Author of Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés, and the Fall of Old Mexico, Simon & Schuster, 1993


A British scholar, Hugh Thomas has been considered one of the leading historians of the Hispanic world since his first book on the subject was published in 1961. Although he uses many of the same primary sources as William H. Prescott, their styles of history are quite different. Thomas prefers to write history as a grand narrative, an approach some people think is old-fashioned and perhaps even inappropriate these days.


Page 295 to page 296 from Chapter 20 An Image of Quetzalcoatl.

Begin with ‘Montezuma received the delegation courteously’ and read through to ‘shades of meaning they added or subtracted’.  


Interview with Hugh Thomas:



  • How does Thomas, writing 473 years after the events he describes, know what happened?
  • How might the sources available to him influence the way he tells the story?
  • How does Thomas’ use of emotive language compare with Prescott’s?
  • Is there any interpretation here or is it just factual narrative?

Try this

Writing a totally factual narrative is harder than it might at first appear. Try to describe what happened in your house when you got up this morning. Include a description of your interactions with other members of your household.

Did you use emotive language? Did you describe things in detail?

Did you have to explain, pass judgements, give opinions or interpret your story for your readers?