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 The Banner of Cortes

    Down in Mexico City, a banner carried by Cortes in the conquest of Mexico is displayed in the Castle of Chapultepec.*  It depicts a crowned Blessed Virgin with a radiance and twelve stars about her head.  It is interesting as a piece of art, and shows the regard in which Cortes held the Mother of God.  But more interesting, the pose bears some similarities to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
      Seen here to the right, you will see her hands afold, her head bent down and turned to the viewer's left, and her hair visibly parted, all similar to features of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Both depictions have a radiance, but in the banner or the standard picture, the radiance is about her head, while in the image of Guadalupe, it is around her person.  Both have stars: here in the banner they arc around her head, and in the Guadalupan image, the stars are scattered upon her mantle. There is also a difference in the eyes: although it may not appear so here, close up on the banner her eyes seem to look upwards, rather than downwards as they do in the famous image.
     It's reasonable to assume the Indians would've associated this banner with the Spaniards and their religion.  As such, it would've been one of their earliest memories of the Blessed Virgin.  After the conquest many of the indigenous did not accept the Christianity of the conquerors.  When the Blessed Virgin appeared to one of their own, leaving her image, it's possible this earlier "appearance" of hers on the banner (with its similarities), helped them connect the image of Guadalupe to the faith of the Spanish that they witnessed earlier, and that this helped facilitate their acceptance of that belief.       John Riedell
     
The picture of the Virgin Mary is on a shield, with scrollwork to the sides and bottom, and topped with a elongated crown.   In the official guide book of the National Museum of History, Museo Nacional de Historia  - Castillo de Chapultepec, the picture is captioned: "Estandarte de la Virgen de los Remedios que uso Hernan Cortes durante la Conquista (Standard of the Virgin of Remedies that Hernan Cortes used during the conquest."  
 

 

 

      Notes written in Mexico, record that the shield (escudo) was originally painted with oil (pintado al oleo).   It appears the word "consido" should be spelled without the "n," probably miscopied on my part.  Apparently it should read: "Y cosido posteriormente al campo de damasco (And sewn to the back on a field of damask)."

     

Around the image itself , starting in the lower left, are the words: ESTE ESTANDARTE FUE EL QUE TRAJO D
N FERNANDO CORTES EN LA CONQUISTA DE MEXICO (Refers to the standard being the one Cortes brought in the conquest).   The ovalish spots (left of her head) must be reflections from lights in the castle.

           *  Chapultepec means "grasshopper hill."  Chapulin in the Aztec language means
                   "saltamontes" in Spanish, and "grasshopper or grasshoppers" in English. 

 

 

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Site Last Updated on 08/13/06