Book cover

Montezuma’s Daughter, first published in 1893, is a novel written by the Victorian adventure writer H. Rider Haggard. Narrated in the first person by Thomas Wingfield, an Englishman whose adventures include having his mother murdered, a brush with the Spanish Inquisition, shipwreck, and slavery. Thomas unwillingly joins a Spanish expedition to New Spain,[a]New Spain was a kingdom of the Spanish Empire, occupying Mexico and a large area of North America and the novel relates a fictionalised account of the first interactions between the natives and European explorers.

Thomas meets and marries the daughter of the native king (from whom the novel takes its title) and settles into life in Mexico. But after a series of misunderstandings and prejudice on the part of the Spaniards, open warfare breaks out between the conquistadors and the natives. Thomas’s native family is destroyed, and he revenges himself on the antagonist before returning to England.

Commentary


While in Mexico in 1891 researching for the book, Haggard received news that his only son had died, dealing him a lasting blow that badly affected his health.[1] Haggard recognised that Montezuma’s Daughter was the last of his best work “for the rest was repetition so far as fiction was concerned”.[2] Like many Victorian adventure novels, it sometimes treats the natives as na├»ve and barbaric, a flaw Haggard explicitly draws attention to in his main character.

Citations



Bibliography


Elwin, M. (1939). Old Gods Failing. The Macmillan Company.

Notes

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a. New Spain was a kingdom of the Spanish Empire, occupying Mexico and a large area of North America