Essay on The Role of Religion in "The Conquest of New Spain"

Essay on The Role of Religion in "The Conquest of New Spain"

Length: 613 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church was the dominant force in Western civilization. As the Dark Ages came to a close, the monarchies of Europe began to consolidate power; providing an alternative power base. With the Protestant Reformation came another blow to the influence of the Church. Spain, the forerunner in the Age of Discovery, was a fervently Catholic country. During the 16th century, the monarchy combined the forces of "cross and crown" in its imperial policy; much to the dismay and ultimate destruction of the indigenous peoples of the New World. Through an examination of Aztec polytheism and the Catholicism of the conquistadors, comes the central role of religion in the successful conquest of New Spain.

When the Spaniards arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico in 1519, they encountered the advanced society of the Aztecs. With Tenochititlan at its capital, the Aztec empire was vast. The Aztecs had substantial wealth from trading and extensive payments of tribute from conquered peoples. Bernal Diaz in his The Conquest of New Spain comments, "We were dazzled at the richness of the country that we passed through" (282). The Spaniards encountered a powerful, advanced people in the New World, making Cortes and his crew of approximately 600 seemingly ensured of defeat. The Aztec religion lends much to Spanish success in conquest.

A major element of Aztec life was religion, as often is in the case in ancient civilizations. The Aztecs were a polytheistic people, and they often made use of human sacrifice to please their gods. Diaz often makes reference to the blood-stained walls of the Aztec temples in his account of the conquest. In reference to the success of Cortes and his soldiers, an anci...

... middle of paper ...

... convert them by any means necessary. The idea that conversion made for a bettering of the people also aided in taking to harsh treatment. As for the actions taken against the natives, violence, murder, and rape were among the many. Such acts are fairly barbaric, not expected of a civilized society. Also, these actions are contradictory to Christian doctrine making them even more controversial.

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.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Epic Of Old Mali And Bernal Diaz 's The Conquest Of New Spain Essay

- Conquests--- the art of obtaining power and authority through means of military forces--- have been adopted and practiced throughout the history of America for centuries. Similar to how two art paintings have resemblances and differences when replicated by different artists, the conquests of Sundiata and Cortés both share commonalities as well as a fair share of respective distinctions. In Djibril Tamsir Niane’s Sundiata: Epic of Old Mali and Bernal Díaz’s The Conquest of New Spain, the narrator’s arguments within each account display a ray of more similarities in regards to the conquests’ successes of Sundiata and Cortés compared to that of their differences....   [tags: Sundiata Keita, Mali Empire, Djibril Tamsir Niane]

Better Essays
1226 words (3.5 pages)

Analysis Of Bernal Diaz Del Castillo 's The History Of The Conquest Of New Spain

- The perspective of another society is always subjective, especially when two completely different cultures interact for the first time. In Bernal Diaz del Castillo’s The History of the Conquest of New Spain, the first hand account illustrates a barbaric and pagan society where sacrifices are pervasive in everyday life. However, David Carrasco’s essays titled “The Exaggeration of Human Sacrifice” and “Human Sacrifice / Debt Payments from the Aztec Point of View” shed a significant amount of insight into the religious roles that human sacrifice played in Aztec society rather than the cruel and barbaric connotations which Díaz heavily implied....   [tags: Ritual, Religion, Human sacrifice, Aztec]

Better Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Conquest And Colonization : The New Era Of Expansion Essay

- Conquest and colonization has always played a role in the history of European powers. Throughout the centuries many different European empires have attempted to make their mark on multiple different continents. Some have found success, while others have failed. One case in particular, in which European nations could not quite find stability, was in North America. Factors such as the American Revolution, U.S. westward expansion, and the Monroe Doctrine pushed European nations out of North America....   [tags: Colonialism, British Empire, Imperialism, Africa]

Better Essays
853 words (2.4 pages)

The Nature of War in the 8th Century: A comparative analysis of The Song of Roland and History of the Conquest of Spain

- During the 8th century, the Muslims were expanding their empire, and in the 7th century, they managed to strategize the best way to take over Northern Africa and southern Europe. According to Western Society: A Brief History, “In 711 a Muslim force crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and easily defeated the weak visgothic king.” The Muslim ended up taking over most of Spain, and for a short time, Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully. Then some animosity arose between the Muslims and Christians....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Better Essays
1236 words (3.5 pages)

In defense of the Indians by Las Casas and On the Cannibals by Montaigne

- Acceptance and understanding are major factors that must be met in order for people to come together. In many circumstances, it is up to the minority whom are joining the majority to adopt and change its customs and practices in order to assimilate into the majority. However, there are some circumstances in which the minority somehow becomes able to overpower majority and take control. This is the situation which occurred between the Natives and the Europeans during the 1513 conquest. The Spanish Conquest of Central and South America and the voyage to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought the Spanish crown a great amount of wealth....   [tags: Conquest of New World]

Better Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

Conquest Of America Essay

- The 15th century was a turning point in the world's history, since the ocean, which was previously seen as an obstacle to reach beyond, was turned out to be a medium to unify the continents. The discovery of ocean is mainly referred as the "oceanic revolution" and it put the study of history in a global context, for power relations were no longer limited to national histories. At the time the Ottoman Empire was the leading figure in terms of power, since it was dominant in the Mediterranean which, as Bender states, formed the core of the world's economy....   [tags: American History]

Better Essays
1092 words (3.1 pages)

The Intellectual History Of New Spain And Its Development Of A National Consciousness

- Jacques Lafaye, a French historian, published a study pertaining to the intellectual history of New Spain and its development of a national consciousness that would facilitate a move towards independence. Lafaye takes a unique approach of examining the formation of Mexico’s national conciseness by pointing to the importance of religious thought in that process. In this ethnohistorical study the author pays special attention to the interaction of Iberian Christianity and Aztec belief system in New Spain....   [tags: Mexico City, Mexico, Aztec, Hernán Cortés]

Better Essays
990 words (2.8 pages)

The Social, Economic, and Political Implications of the Conquest and Colonization of the Americas

- The history of the conquest and colonization of the Americas is very complex. The social, economic, and political issues and circumstances that took place many years ago are the foundation of who America is today. Most Americans do not realize how many people were affected by immigration, or understand the real struggles and sacrifices that the indigenous people and the colonists made for the freedoms we have today. During these historical events, many cultural, social, and economical events were impacted....   [tags: U.S. History ]

Better Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

What Fundamental Factors Drew Europeans to The Exploration, Conquest, and Settlement of the New World?

- Toward the end of pre-colonial times in Europe, due to the fall of Constantinople, many European nations felt the need to find an alternate route to the East Indies. The trade of rare goods such as spices, rice, exotic fruits and silk fabrics were much in demand, but came at extreme prices. In the beginning of the ‘Age of Exploration’, Portugal was in the forefront with the early explorers Henry the Navigator, Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira, and Diogo Silves discovering the Madeira Islands, the Azores, and the exploration of Africa respectively, but King John the II of Portugal was unconvinced by Christopher Columbus’s pleas to fund his plan to sail West to the East Indies....   [tags: church, christopher columbus, trade]

Better Essays
1072 words (3.1 pages)

Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903

- Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 Miller provides an account of the American-Philippines war from 1899-1903, revealing aspects of United States imperialism that are often forgotten. Miller provides both a military history as well as a demonstration of the way America lied and forgot its history, justifying war and colonization as a step for greater good. America's involvement in the Philippines is sometimes remembered as an act to protect Filipino's from Spain, and to "teach' them American democracy....   [tags: History Politics Political Papers]

Better Essays
2829 words (8.1 pages)