Victors and Vanquished

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The Spanish conquest of Mexico is an epic story that is understudied. The historical documents recounting the events are either written through the memory of the conquerors or the conquered, and as a result there is a great disparity in the facts, those facts changing depending on which side produced the documents. We will take a look at several of the documents published in Victors and Vanquished from both the Spanish and Nahua perspectives, analyzing them for bias, lessons learned, as well as the different contrasts between different perspectives. In addition I think it is important to look at the overall motivation behind the Spanish conquest. In Bernal Diaz second writing in the book he speaks of the Spanish movement from Santa Maria de la Victoria to San Juan de Ulua. When The Spaniards arrive they have their first meeting with representatives from Moctezuma. According to Diaz, Cortez treats the ambassadors very well, and it seems that Cortez is quite intended on making a good impression with Montezuma as well as the locals, confessing that they are there to simply trade with the Indians. When Montezuma’s ambassadors return from delivering Cortez’ message to their king, they bring back a good amount of treasures with them. The ambassadors also tell Cortez that Montezumadoes not think an interview is necessary. This is an interesting statement and something that I believe may have shown the hidden motivations behind Montezuma’s thinking. I have to wonder if Montezuma was hoping that if he sent an acceptable amount of gold and some kind words the Spaniards would accept it graciously and be on their way. When a person in power says something along the lines of, “an interview is not necessary (pp 90),” it is a nice way of saying, “I do not want to be interviewed.” Political correctness is not something that is new to modern times. Unfortunately for Montezuma, by sending all that gold, his plan backfired as the Spaniards noted that with the helmet filled with...
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