The conquest of the Aztecs by Hernán Cortés is a well-known event in history. It is often taught in school and depicted in popular culture. However, what is less known is the perspective of the Aztecs themselves and the impact that the conquest had on their society. In this article, we will explore the forgotten history revealed in ‘The Conquest of New Spain’ and shed light on the consequences of the Spanish invasion on the indigenous people.
The Aztec Empire: A Brief Overview
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Aztecs were a powerful empire that dominated central Mexico. Their capital, Tenochtitlan, was one of the largest cities in the world at the time, with a complex infrastructure, impressive architecture, and a thriving economy. The Aztecs had a sophisticated system of writing, a complex religion, and a rich culture that included art, music, and literature.
The Spanish Invasion
In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico with a small expedition of soldiers. He was greeted by the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II, who thought that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl, returning as prophesied. Cortés took advantage of this belief and, with the help of native allies, overthrew the Aztec Empire after a long and bloody campaign.
The Spanish conquest brought an end to the Aztec civilization and had a profound impact on the indigenous people. The Spanish introduced new diseases, such as smallpox, which devastated the native population. They also imposed their own culture and religion, destroying the temples and replacing them with churches.
‘The Conquest of New Spain’
‘The Conquest of New Spain’ is a firsthand account of the conquest by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, a soldier who fought alongside Cortés. The book is a valuable historical document that provides insight into the events that took place during the conquest and the mindset of the conquistadors.
Díaz del Castillo’s account is not without its flaws, however. He was a loyal supporter of Cortés and tended to glorify the Spanish conquest. He also had a biased view of the native people, often portraying them as inferior and uncivilized.
The Forgotten History
Despite its flaws, ‘The Conquest of New Spain’ sheds light on the forgotten history of the Aztecs. It provides a glimpse into their culture and society, as well as the impact that the Spanish invasion had on them. For example, Díaz del Castillo describes the Aztec economy, which was based on a complex system of tribute and trade. He also describes the Aztec religion, which was centered around the worship of multiple gods and goddesses.
Díaz del Castillo’s account also reveals the brutality of the Spanish conquest. He describes the massacre of unarmed native people, the burning of cities, and the looting of treasures. He also describes the enslavement of the native population, which became a common practice among the Spanish.
‘The Conquest of New Spain’ is a valuable historical document that provides insight into the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. It is not without its flaws, but it sheds light on the forgotten history of the indigenous people. The conquest had a profound impact on the Aztec civilization, bringing an end to their society and introducing new diseases, culture, and religion. It is important to remember the forgotten history of the Aztecs and to learn from the mistakes of the past.