The Florentine Codex: Depictions of Pre-Conquest Omens

In a society as religious as the Aztec Empire omens would have been of the upmost importance. In the Florentine Codex we see depictions of various omens that purportedly pre-dated and predicted the coming Spanish invasion. The omens shown here, the mirror-faced bird being presented to Montezuma, the Pillar of Fire and the appearance of a Two-Headed Man, show some of the more supernatural omens the Aztecs claim to have witnessed prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The historical record, however, shows us that these omens were created after the Fall of Tenochtitlan. This post-conquest fictionalization of omens shows us that rather than the Spanish conquest being seen as a military defeat, the Aztecs viewed it as a pre-destined calamity sent by the Gods.

[Untitled]

Bernadino De Sahagun

Illustration of the Pillar of Fire, La Historia Universal De Las Cosas De Nueva Espana,1577

Ink on Paper

Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence, Italy

[Untitled]

Bernadino De Sahagun

Illustration of the Mirror-Faced Bird, La Historia Universal De Las Cosas De Nueva Espana,1577

Ink on Paper

Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence, Italy

[Untitled]

Bernadino De Sahagun

Illustration of the Two-Headed Man, La Historia Universal De Las Cosas De Nueva Espana,1577

Ink on Paper

Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence, Italy