The Conquest of Mexico
The Spaniards, in the conquest of the Mexican people, relied just as heavily on chance and luck as they did on their on their skills on diplomacy and military prowess. The sicknesses that the Spaniards brought over with them in addition to the political situation that the Mexica had established with their neighbors is what really brought about the downfall of the great Mexican civilizations. In addition to these factors there was also the fact that up to this point in history the Americas have had very little in the way of contact from the outside world and consequently had next to no knowledge of the civilizations across the sea. When they first encountered the Spanish Conquistadors they held the belief that they were from the gods and that Cortez was the reincarnation of one of their gods and as such welcomed them with open arms. When you take into consideration all of the factors mentioned above you will see that the conquest of Aztecs and other Native American civilizations by the Spanish was accomplished by three major factors: diplomacy, military prowess, and no small amount of luck.
The first of those factors is the diseases that the Europeans brought across the Atlantic with them. The most notable disease that caused the majority of the deaths among the Native American people was the pestilence of smallpox. An account of just how devastating smallpox was among a populace whose immune systems had no prior experience with or any way to combat European diseases can be found in book twelve of the Florentine Codex. “Before the Spaniards came to us, first an epidemic broke out, a sickness of pustules. It began in Tepeilhuitl. Large bumps spread on people; some where completely covered. They spread everywhere, on the face, the head, the chest, etc. [The disease] brought great desolation, a great many died of it.(Lockhart, 1993, 190)” The account goes on to describe the horrors that the disease had left behind in the lives of those...
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