Photo of the Maya ruins of Tikal, Guatemala. Image Credit:

Guatemala formed a core region of the Maya civilisation (c2000BC-1697) which ruled over much of Mesoamerica, the historic name given to land which now covers the modern territories from central Mexico to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Spanish invasions of the sixteenth century saw most of the area fall under the viceroyalty of New Spain. Guatemala gained independence in 1821 from Spain, with the succeeding decades full of political upheaval. Much of Guatemala’s pre-conquest history was passed down through archaeological engravings and structures, and oral histories. As such, records of its rulers are known to us largely through monuments or histories from the conquerors.


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Holden, Robert H., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Central American History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020

Levin Rojo, Danna A., and Cynthia Radding, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Borderlands of the Iberian World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019

Lovell, W. George. Conquest and Survival in Colonial Guatemala: A Historical Geography of the Cuchumatán Highlands, 1500–1821. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005

Ocaña, Antonio Cortijo, and Adelaida Cortijo Ocaña, Cartas desde México y Guatemala (1540–1635). El proceso Díaz de la Reguera. Cáceres. Berkeley: Universidad de Extremadura, The Bancroft Library, 2003.

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