In 1541, the Franciscan friar Motolinía sent to Spain an account of the Tlaxcalan people performing the religious drama The Conquest of Jerusalem in Tlaxcala, New Spain. Previous scholars have read his festival account to reflect only local political interests. I argue that it is a palimpsest, containing both the Tlaxcalans’ ambitious diplomatic strategy, expressed in their performance, and Motolinía’s efforts to steer Castile’s policies in the Americas and the greater Mediterranean.

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