Since 2016, the Florentine Codex, an encyclopedia of Nahua knowledge and history of early modern Mexico, has been the focus of a collaborative research and publication initiative of the Getty Research Institute, the Seaver Institute, and the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. The initiative's goal is to give global access to the manuscript and disseminate knowledge about its cultural significance. The research focuses on Book 12 of the codex, the most extensive historical account of the conquest of Mexico (1519–1521), written in Nahuatl and documenting the Mexica perspective.

The initiative has four principal outcomes:

  1. The Digital Florentine Codex, an enhanced digital critical edition uniting the newly digitized codex with its transcriptions and translations (due 2023)

  2. 4,000 multilingual entries contributed to the Getty Vocabularies (in English, Spanish, Classical Nahuatl, and contemporary Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl) and incorporated into the Digital Florentine Codex to make its images searchable

  3. A digital publication titled Book 12 of the Florentine Codex: Nahua Visions and Voices of the Conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, focusing on the history of the conquest of Mexico (due 2023)

  4. Lesson plans for K–12 educators on the conquest of Mexico, contrasting Indigenous and European perspectives (due 2023)

About the Florentine Codex

The Florentine Codex is composed of 12 books created in 16th-century Mexico City at the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, Mexico's first college. The manuscript was sent to Europe shortly after completion in 1577 and acquired before 1587 by the Medici family, who kept the codex safe for centuries. It continues to be housed at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, Italy, and is hence known as the Florentine Codex.

The Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún and a large team of Indigenous authors and artists worked on compiling the information over 30 years. The names and identities of a handful of the Nahua authors and artists who created the codex and were trained by Sahagún are known: Antonio Valeriano, Alonso Vegerano, Martín Jacobita, Pedro de San Buenaventura, Diego de Grado, Bonifacio Maximiliano, and Mateo Severino. They documented invaluable information about Aztec life and, in the case of Book 12, recorded eyewitness accounts of the conquest of Mexico.

Each manuscript page features two side-by-side columns of writing: the primary Nahuatl text and a Spanish interpretation of the Nahuatl text by Sahagún. These columns are interspersed with exquisite illustrations painted by Nahua artists or tlacuilo (Nahuatl for "one who paints or writes"). The codex, modeled after ancient Roman and medieval encyclopedias that were available to the makers of the codex at the Tlatelolco library, is regarded as the most reliable source of information about central Mexican Nahua culture. In 2015, the codex was incorporated, along with other works by Sahagún, into UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.

Team and Collaborators

Mary Miller, Getty Research Institute

Project Co-Heads
Diana Magaloni, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Jeanette Favrot Peterson, University of California, Santa Barbara
Kim Richter, Getty Research Institute
Kevin Terraciano, University of California, Los Angeles

Principal Lead
Kim Richter, Getty Research Institute

Project Manager
Alicia Maria Houtrouw, Getty Research Institute

Research Team
Rebecca Dufendach, Getty Research Institute
Bérénice Gaillemin, Getty Research Institute
León García Garagarza, Getty Research Institute
Alanna Radlo-Dzur, Getty Research Institute

Research Consultants
Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas
Sabina Cruz de la Cruz, Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas
Sandra Xochipiltecatl, Independent Scholar

Institutional Collaborators and Partners
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana
The Seaver Institute
The UCLA Latin American Institute
The University of Utah Press

Collaborating Scholars
Manuel Aguilar Moreno, California State University, Los Angeles
Berenice Alcántara Rojas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City
Baltazar Brito Guadarrama, Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City
Federico Navarrete, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City
Lisa Sousa, Occidental College, Los Angeles

Greg Albers, Getty Publications
Michele Ciaccio, GRI Publications

Component Leads
Nathaniel Deines, Getty Digital
Patricia Harpring, Getty Vocabularies
Amy Hood, Getty Trust Communications
David Newbury, Getty Digital
Lily Pregill, Getty Digital

Digital Art History Project Advisor
Emily Pugh, Getty Research Institute

GRI Support and Administration
Susan Colangelo, Getty Research Institute
Theresa Marino, Getty Research Institute
Lela Urquhart, Getty Research Institute

John Baker, Digirati
Tom Crane, Digirati
Stephen Fraser, Digirati
Matt McGrattan, Digirat
Diego Lago, Digirati
Amyrose McCue Gill, TextFormations
Lisa Regan, TextFormations

User Experience and Design
Ahree Lee, User Experience Researcher
Catherine Bell, User Experience Designer
Sophie Baker, Visual/UI Designer

Former Team Members and Interns
Michelle Aranda Cos, Getty Research Institute
Allison Caplan, Getty Research Institute
Annie Combs-Brookes, Getty Research Institute
Joshua Fitzgerald, Getty Research Institute
Anne Helmreich, Getty Research Institute
Dulce Hernandez, Getty Research Institute
Hande Lara Sever, Getty Research Institute
Francisco Lopez-Huerta, Getty Research Institute
Abigail Robertson, Getty Research Institute
Robert Sanderson, Getty Digital
Emma Turner-Trujillo, Getty Research Institute
Elijah Zavala, Getty Research Institute