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
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"The Broken Spears" by Miguel Leon-Portilla gives a different perspective on the defeat of the Aztecs. Through reasons such as religion and culture beliefs, the Spanish technological advancement, and their strategy of gaining alliances in the new land contributed to the defeat of the Aztecs. The two factors that played the biggest roles were the poor leadership of Motechuhzoma and the timing of the plague. Those two factors were indeed what brought down this great Empire.
The Spanish defeat of the Aztecs has been extensively criticized for many years. Religion was a motive for discovery, enabled the Spanish to enter the heart of the empire, and was used as justification for torture of the natives. The centrality of religion as a force in Spanish conquest is undeniable. Virtually all of Aztec culture was destroyed and the Spanish victory has had lasting effects for both natives and Europeans up to and including the present-day.
This historical study will define the important role of Hernan Cortes in the colonization of Mexico in the age of the Spanish conquistador. Cortes was an important figure in Mexican history because of his discovery of Mexico at the Yucatan peninsula in 1519. During this time, Cortes became a historical figure that represented the “conquistador” system of conquest throughout the Mayan and Aztec Empires during the early part of the 15th century. The fall of these indigenous civilizations marked the beginning of Spanish colonization of Central America. Cortes was a significant figure because of the primarily military style of coercion and conquest that sought to annihilate the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and to claim Spanish territory. These conquests contributed significantly to the blend of indigenous and Spanish traditions of Mexico’s national history. Cortes represents the first phase of colonization for the Spanish empire in terms of the violent and aggressive nature of the Spanish Conquistador in the discovery of Mexico. The image of the Spanish conquistador as an often violent and ruthless colonizer is defined the invasion and destruction of the Aztec empire in Mexican history. In essence, a
The English and Spanish empires in Americas differ largely in terms of their relation with the native people. The treatment of Spanish colonist was much harsher than that of the English. Buoyed by the stories of gold lying to the west, Spanish conquest was focused only on gather invaluable treasures rather than building relation with the native settlers. The invasion of Aztec empire by Hernán Corté (1485-1547) with superior weapons aided by vicious attack dogs represents the climax of brutality and the harsh treatment of Aztec warriors fighting bare foot with stones, spears, and arrows. Spanish were not at all tolerant of their unique identity and beliefs.
The Aztecs landed in Mesoamerica around the start of the thirteenth century. The Aztecs, who were then called the Mexica, were a poor, nomadic people from the harsh deserts of northern Mexico (McDougal 453; ch. 16). The Aztecs assembled extraordinary urban communities and created a complex social, political, and religious structure. The force of the Mexica individuals got to be more merged and they started to structure partnerships. Their military force developed also, and they started to vanquish individuals in the encompassing regions. A large number of the locale's city-states were under their control by the fifteenth century. Aztec public opinion was exceedingly organized, in view of agribusin...
In a matter of three to four years, Cortes had effectively conquered the Aztec peoples through a blend of fierce militarism, diplomacy, and treachery as part of the motivation to colonize the indigenous peoples. Surely, the symbolism of the Spanish conquistador is conformed in the total colonization and defeat of the Aztec civilization ass part of Cortes’ mission in Mexico. More so, the capital of Mexico, Mexico City, was built on the foundations of the city of Tenochtitlan as a basis for the formation of Mexico as a colonial state governed through Spain: Since Hernan Cortes made the decision to construct his new capital on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec city of lakes” (Krauze 3). In this context, the importance of Cortes’ role in Mexico is defining moment in the Spanish culture that dominated the indigenous populations after the defeat of the Aztecs. Cortes was a leading figure in the first phase of Spanish colonization of Central America, which would result in larger Spanish colonization of this region through the 16th
The Aztec Empire was the largest civilization of the Americas in the early 16th century until Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World. A motley crew of men from Spain, they were led by Hernan Cortes who intended to expand lands for the Spanish monarch and through many factors he was able to do just that. The three main factors that contributed to the fall of Tenochtitlan by the hands of Spanish conquistadors were significance of native allies, difference in battle tactics among the natives and conquistadors, and widespread disease. Another chapter in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, this one stands out in particular due to its unorthodox sequence of events that led a small group of men to defeating an entire empire in a few short years.
In 1519 Hernando Cortes` led over 500 men into Aztec territory in search of gold, what he found were the magnificent golden statues of the Aztec deities. The Aztecs believed him to be the representative for some white skinned god, and hence feared and respected him. It was not until they saw him melting their statues and shipping the blocks of gold to Spain that they acted. They attacked Hernanado and his men, and succeeded in driving them off. However, Cortes returned later with the support of local Indian tribes that hated the Aztecs for centuries of cruel treatment to defeat the mighty Aztecs and take the empire. This ended the Aztec civilization forever.
The Aztec built a powerful empire that became a dominant and formidable force. The empire supported an enormous population, encompassed a vast territory and yielded an abundance of precious metals and other natural resources. Several factors contributed to the overall success of the empire, including an ideal geographical location and a social hierarchy that imposed law and order. To maintain such a vast domain the Aztec had to employ tactics that included domination and subjugation of enemy forces and an enormous slave population, as well as the organization of resources necessary to support an empire. The collapse of the Aztec Empire came relatively swiftly at the hands of a small, but menacing, force of Spanish conquistadors, who had set their sights on invading the territory, displace the indigenous leaders, and seize their immense reserve of gold. The downfall of the Aztec centered on ineffective leadership, internal conflicts, susceptibility to germ warfare and a history of brutality against their enemies.
Cortés came not to the New World to conquer by force, but by manipulation. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, in the "Conquest of New Spain," describes how Cortés and his soldiers manipulated the Aztec people and their king Montezuma from the time they traveled from Iztapalaopa to the time when Montezuma took Cortés to the top of the great Cue and showed him the whole of Mexico and its countryside, and the three causeways which led into Mexico. Castillo's purpose for recording the mission was to keep an account of the wealth of Montezuma and Mexico, the traditions, and the economic potential that could benefit Cortés' upcoming conquest. However, through these recordings, we are able to see and understand Cortés' strategy in making Mexico "New Spain." He came as a wolf in a sheep's clothing and manipulated Montezuma through his apparent innocence.
Cortes was able to conquer the Aztecs for several very different reasons. In combination these reasons allowed him to have the upper hand in the conquest of Mexico. Arguably these reasons can be sorted into six different categories. The various causes for Cortes' success will be assessed in a climax pattern. To begin with the Aztecs had a harsh tribute system that was not popular among the people of Mexico. This cruel tribute system allowed Cortes to act as a liberator. Furthermore, with the Spanish brought several diseases into Mexico in witch they were immune to but the Aztecs were not. The spread of diseases such as small pox reduced the Aztec population and furthered Cortes' success unintentionally Also Marina was a tribal girl given as a gift to Cortes, she proved invaluable in translating local dialects in combination with Geronimo de Aguilar. Also an important aspect of his success was due to Montezuma's belief that Cortes was Quetzakoatl. A predominant reason for the Spanish success was due to their weaponry especially their armour and firepower. Perhaps the most important reason of all was that of Cortes' Indian allies such as the Tlaxcalans who made up the majority of his combined army. All these reasons worked together to allow Cortes, originally with 508 men to conquer the Aztec Empire of millions of people.
Victors and Vanquished by Stuart Schwartz attempts to explore differing perspectives of the conquest of Mexico as the historical narratives are from both the outlook of the Spanish conquistadors as well as the Nahua peoples. In these primary sources, there was a fundamental focus on the encounters between the Spaniards and the Mexica. The first source is an excerpt from The True History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a Spanish conquistador, who participated as a foot solider in the conquest of Mexico with Hernán Cortés. Although Díaz del Castillo was a witness of the conquest, he wrote his account of what he had witnessed decades after the Spanish victory, in 1521. In his account, Díaz del Castillo concentrated on the ways in which the Spanish viewed the Nahua peoples. The second source is taken from the Florentine Codex and is one which was collected twenty
At first, it seemed like the Spanish had total control of the city, but trouble soon broke out. In May 1520, Cortes briefly left the city. Ignorantly, his men, for some odd reason, attacked the Aztec. "Those Idiots!" I bet Cortes would have exclaimed as he came back to find his men being besieged in Moctezuma's palace. Cortes, being quite the intelligent thinker, thought that calming them would be the best way out of the situation.
... (Schweikart 5-6). The Aztecs’ greed for sacrificial hostages turned these Indian neighbors against them (Kingfisher 196-197). The Aztecs were defeated, partially because they had been weakened by smallpox, but also because the Spanish fought together as a single force, while Aztecs fought as individuals (Schweikart 6-7).
...The last two reasons that the Aztecs were defeated had to do with the disease that the Spaniards brought with them from Europe mainly small pox and the Aztec warfare rituals. The Aztecs had never been exposed to this disease and therefore their immune systems could not beat it and it eventually claimed the lives of thousands of Indians not only the Aztecs. The Aztecs had many rituals that they performed and most of them had to do with human sacrifice and this was something unspeakable and unholy in the eyes of the Spaniards which only fueled their cause in killing them and stopping such barbaric acts. Also the Aztecs would perform rituals before declaring war which the Spaniards used to their advantage and caught them off guard with their immediate attack of Tenochtitlan. These were the most important factors that led to the eventual fall of the Aztec empire.