Victors and Vanquished

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Victors and Vanquished The history of the Western hemisphere is full of war and conquest. One of the most significant and defining of those conquests is the downfall of the Mexica/Aztec Empire. While there are many other events to choose from, this one stands out since it was one over one of the largest empires in Central America. It is also important to look at because of the immense cultural impact it had. The story of this takeover reads like a movie script, a small band of Spaniards single handedly takes down the most powerful empire in Central America. It was an epic battle, which unfortunately led to the destruction of a magnificent culture. As in any major historical event there are many underlying themes and storylines that come together to make the event happen. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec is no different. Three major themes are seen in this struggle. One of them is the incredible advantage that the Spaniards technology gave them over the Aztecs. A second major theme is the greed that fueled the conquests in the New World. The last major theme was the effect of the political divisions and rivalries within Montezuma’s Central American Kingdom. As this historical event progressed each one of these themes began to intertwine until they became an almost unstoppable force. One of the principle themes in the Aztec downfall was the immense greed of the Europeans. The principle goal of every major faction in Europe was to gain power and wealth it didn’t matter from what source. Everyone from popes and kings to the lowly soldier envisioned rivers of gold and fame. Ever since they had boats Europeans have been looking for lucrative trade routes and other ways to turn a profit. The ruling monarchs of these countries contributed a great deal to this. They saw vast profits from these ventures through taxes and the customary “ Royal Fifth” which was a fifth of all profits would go straight to the King and/or Queen. Also royalty or other nobility within the country personally funded a large majority of explorations. Trading and exploration companies just helped push the trend further and made the exploitation of newly discovered lands big business. While greed was defiantly a starting point for Cortez’s expedition, it was his greed while in Central Mexico that changed the tide of history. Cortez’s first encounters with the natives in Central... ... middle of paper ... ...g point of their empire. The downfall of the Aztec Empire was a major building block of the Spanish colonial empire in the Americas. Spain’s empire would stretch all the way into North America from the Southwest United States all the way up the Pacific Coast. The unfortunate side effect of this was the elimination of many nations of indigenous people. The three major themes shown in this conquest really give deeper look into the anatomy of this important historical event. Without context on the extent of native assistance given to Cortez in his fight with the Aztecs, a reader would be grossly uniformed. The Spanish conquest was closer to a civil war than an actual conquest. Until reading detailed personal accounts of the fighting it is difficult to judge the deadly effectiveness of the Spaniards technological superiority. Without it is difficult to imagine 500 conquistadors holding thousands of native warriors at bay. Once the greed of Cortez and greed in general of the Europeans one understands that if it wasn’t Cortez if would have just been a different man at a different time. Unfortunately fame and prosperity seem to always win over cares about fellow human beings

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the spanish conquest of the aztecs was an epic battle that led to the destruction of a magnificent culture.
  • Analyzes how cortez's greed led to the aztecs' downfall, and how his encounters with the natives in central mexico gave him crucial information about a wealthy nation.
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