The Broken Spears: the Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico

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Perspective on the Columbian Exchange and Effect on Information Conveyance While most of what has happened historically is clouded by speculation and wonder, some events have been well-documented. The Conquest of the Americas by the Spanish was an event in which many aspects were recorded, which has helped historians tremendously. The Broken Spears is a historical outlook on the Spanish Conquest of the Americas that includes several different texts written by many different indigenous people. Numerous texts are written in such a way that show the fear that the people experienced while having their towns overtaken, while other texts simply explain what was happening at the time. In Traditions and Encounters, a more factual approach is taken, conveying only facts. The Broken Spears includes facts, yet also includes the vivid emotions of the people.

The Spanish Conquest introduced the indigenous people not only to the Spaniards, but also to a vast array of European diseases. Traditions and Encounters describes the smallpox epidemic as “rag[ing] through the city, killing inhabitants by the tens of thousands. It then spread beyond the capital and raced through Mexico, carrying off so many people that Aztec society was unable to function.”The wording of this passage provides the reader with the facts, but not a lot of emotion. In The Broken Spears, the passage explains “It began to spread…striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people. Sores erupted on our faces, our breasts, our bellies; we were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot.” Both excerpts explain that many people were killed, but The Broken Spears really makes the information more personal and adds a human perspective that the reader can relate and sympathize with.

When describing the relations between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples, the two books differ greatly. Traditions and Encounters explains that the Europeans began to take the land of the indigenous...
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