A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the by Amy Butler Greenfield

By Amy Butler Greenfield

Within the 16th century, one of many world's Most worthy commodities used to be cochineal, a mythical purple dye precious by means of the traditional Mexicans and bought within the nice Aztec marketplaces, the place it attracted the eye of the Spanish conquistadors. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, generating the brightest, most powerful crimson the area had ever noticeable. quickly Spain's cochineal monopoly used to be worthy a fortune. because the English, French, Dutch, and different Europeans joined the chase for cochineal -- a chase that lasted for greater than 3 centuries -- a story of pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies unfolds. an ideal pink inspires with kind and verve this heritage of a grand obsession, of intrigue, empire, and experience in pursuit of the main fascinating colour in the world.

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Extra info for A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire

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Sumptuous red fabrics were worn by elite women, too, including Lucrezia Panciatichi, who married into a wealthy family of Florentine dignitaries in the early 1500s. In a portrait by Agnolo Bronzino, she sits serenely in a magnificent red dress, with sleeves that are an ecstasy of crimson and shirred scarlet silk (see fig. 2). 26 A Perfect Red Some aristocratic families even carried the majesty of red beyond the grave, commissioning posthumous portraits that depicted their ancestors clothed in expensive red fabric.

In the meantime, Cortés was allowed to continue with his conquest, and his success in that endeavor ultimately persuaded the emperor and his advisers to rule in his favor. Soon after the news of Tenochtitlán’s fall reached Europe, Charles appointed Cortés to the position of captain-general and governor of New Spain—“New Spain” being the official Spanish name for the Mexican territory he had conquered. Velázquez, meanwhile, was reprimanded for his conduct and made the subject of an official inquiry.

In Mexico, meanwhile, Cortés and his men were struggling to conquer the empire that was the source of all these treasures. In 1521, they finally brought the Aztecs to their knees, with the help of an outbreak of smallpox and an alliance with Tlaxcala, a cochineal-producing province that was home to the Aztecs’ fiercest enemies. Victorious, the conquistadors and their Tlaxcalan allies burned the moated city of Tenochtitlán to the ground and slaughtered most of its inhabitants. Grieving Aztec poets composed their laments: The houses are roofless now, and their walls are red with blood.

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