Broken Spears and Cantares Mexicanos

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The Spanish conquistadors were successful in their battles against the inhabitants of the New World largely due to the native disunity among the various tribes of Mexico. Local tribes had differing political, religious, and cultural beliefs, and often waged wars against each other. As a result, an enemy’s enemy often became an ally, as evidenced in Cortes’ alliance with the Tlaxcalteca group. Tlaxcalteca was an enemy of Cholula, and members in the Traxcalteca community “brought certain rumors to Cortes, so that he would destroy [the Cholula]” (40). When the Spaniards heard this, they were “guided and accompanied by the Tlaxcaltecas… and they marched in battle array.” Tribes which allied with Cortes provided rations, man power, and information of the New World which significantly helped Cortes on his conquest in the New World. Hence, Spaniards were able to achieve success in their war efforts largely because of their alliances with other Native American tribes.

Another factor which contributed to Spain’s successful conquest in the New World were the various diseases that the Spaniards brought to Mexico from Europe. These became known as virgin soil epidemics, as Europeans brought diseases which the native people had no immunity for. These plagues were deadly and wiped out large amounts of the native population. An example of this was when the Spaniards were in Tlaxcala, “a great plague broke out in Tenochtitlan” (92). This plague spread in the city rapidly and “a great many died… and many others died of hunger.” Hence, the Spaniards were always at an advantage during battle with the native inhabitants as the Spaniards rarely fought against a healthy population.
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