Byron Hamann

Byron Hamann

Hanna Kiel Fellow
A Native American Mediterranean: Three Intersecting Journeys, 1528-1530


Byron Hamann holds a dual PhD in Anthropology and History from the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the art and writing of prehispanic Mesoamerica, as well as on the connections linking the Americas and Europe in the early modern Mediterratlantic world. He is an editor of Grey Room, co-director (with Liza Bakewell) of Mesolore: Exploring Mesoamerican Culture (; project manager (for Dana Leibsohn and Barbara Mundy) of Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820 (; and author of The Translations of Nebrija: Language, Culture, and Circulation in the Early Modern World (2015).

Project Summary

This project explores three intersecting journeys in the Mediterranean world from 1528 to 1530. Together, they reveal the microhistorical existence of a Native American Mediterranean. The first journey connects them all: the 1528-1530 travels of German artist Christoph Weiditz from Augsburg to Madrid and back. While in Madrid, Weiditz met Hernán Cortés, who had just returned to Spain for the first time after the conquest of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. Cortés was accompanied by a retinue of Native American entertainers, as well as two dozen indigenous nobles who sought audiences with Emperor Charles V. The travels of Cortés and his Native American companions form this project's second itinerary, from Mexico City to Seville to Toledo, and from Toledo either back to Seville (where the majority of the indigenous nobles spent six months in 1529 awaiting their return to the New World) or, for two of those nobles, on to Rome, where they were received by Pope Clement VII in the spring of 1529. The third journey was that of the imperial envoy of Charles V (Weiditz tagged along), which in March 1529 left Toledo for Barcelona, there sailing across the Mediterranean to Genoa, and then overland to Bologna, where the pope crowned Charles V with the third and last of his imperial tiaras on February 24, 1530. Documented in paintings, prints, and alphabetic sources, these journeys create a connected history centered on Iberia and Italy but radiating outward to a broader imperial world.