The Spanish had little respect for Indian culture. As soon as their boots hit the ground, they set about subverting and destroying every aspect of the Indian way of life. The Aztecs attempted to befriend the Spanish explorers, but when Hernan Cortez heard his capitol of Vera Cruz had been plundered, he capture and killed their leader Montezuma II. The Incas didn’t fare any better. Francisco Pizarro, driven mad with greed, kidnapped the Incan king, Atahualpa and forced his people to pay an outrageous ransom of gold before executing him. Soon after these tragic events, the Spanish set up encomienda, a system of government similar to the feudal system of the middle ages. Under this system, Spanish military commanders were granted land on which several Indian tribes lived. They forced these indigenous people to convert to Christianity, work in the gold and silver mines, and pay tribute for the protection of their homes. The natives of South America had little hope of fighting off these foreign invaders. When the Spanish arrived, they brought with them all of the technological advances of their homeland. The Aztecs and Incas had wood, stone, and bone weapons, the Spanish had steel and gunpowder. One Spanish priest said, “Gunpowder frightens the most valiant and courageous Indian and renders him slave to the white man’s command.” The only domesticated animals the Aztecs and Incas had seen was the dog. The Spanish brought horses. A mounted warrior was something the Indians had no experience dealing with and it frightened them greatly. The Spanish plundered their way through South America, destroying every important cultural artifact they came across. Virtually nothing remains of the religious writings and histories of these rich cultures. The wealth plundered from South America by the Spanish, made them extremely rich and powerful. Shipments of gold were regularly taken back home. Some ships carried as much as $15,000,000 worth of gold at one time....
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