On the Spot: Caroline Dodds Pennock

We ask leading historians 20 questions on why their research matters, one book everyone should read and their views on the Tudors ...


I had a childhood fascination with the Aztecs and I just never grew out of it.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you?

That people can hold very different values, and do things which may seem incomprehensible, but still, in many ways, be just like us.

Which history book has had the greatest influence on you?

Timothy Brook’s Vermeer’s Hat is the recent book I most wish I’d written.

What book in your field should everyone read?

Aztecs: An Interpretation, by Inga Clendinnen.

Which moment would you most like to go back to? 

I’d love to know how and when Cortés managed to capture Moctezuma.

Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?

It’s got to be Inga Clendinnen again. She had a great gift for hearing the silent voices of history.

Which person in history would you most like to have met?


How many languages do you speak?

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