Was the Conquest of Mexico Justified?

Topics: Hernán Cortés, Native Americans in the United States, Aztec Pages: 4 (1533 words) Published: October 20, 2005
Was the conquest of Mexico justified? Was it the work of men carrying out God's will on Earth? Or was simpler than that? Was it just greed and jealousy, as old as Cain and Abel? This question can be debated to no end by people on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Spaniards were quick to justify their actions as fair, proper, and necessary. However, a more modern, western mind can certainly look at the events and judge them to be unjust, perhaps even evil – a likening to the violence and prejudice shown to the American Indians by the United States government centuries later. This essay will discuss various points of view regarding to violence in Sixteenth Century Mexico and attempt to answer the question of whether or not it was justified. The first point to take under consideration is why the Spaniards were there in Mexico in the first place. Diego Velasquez, the wealthy governor of Cuba, placed Hernan Cortes in charge of an expedition to Mexico. Velasquez charged Cortes with the authority to represent the Spanish crown and trade with the indigenous people he would encounter (Díaz). Obviously, Cortes had other plans. Whether he had concocted his scheme for the settlement of the lands he would explore when he accepted the position from Velasquez or if it was something he developed over time is unclear and irrelevant. The fact is that he was not given the power or authority to wage any type of war against the native people. The fact that Cortes did is a direct reflection on him, and any judgment rendered on the ensuing events must be a judgment on Cortes himself. When taking into account that the original purpose of the expedition was in no way violent, one must draw the conclusion that the many deaths that resulted from battles between the Spanish soldiers and the native warriors was largely the fault of Cortes. The blood of those men is on his hands because of his greed and his ego. It was Cortes who made the decision to begin settling the area (which was also...

Cited: 1.) Brooks, Francis J. "Motecuzoma, Xocoyotl, Hernan Cortes, and Bernal Diaz del Castillo: The Construction of an Arrest." The Hispanic American Historical Review 75 (May 1995) 149-83.
2.) De Las Casas, Bartolomé. The Devastation of the Indies. Trans. Herma Briffault. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974.
3.) De Sahagún, Bernardino. The War of Conquest. Trans. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1978.
4.) Díaz, Bernal. The Conquest of New Spain. Trans. J.M. Cohen. UK: Penguin Group, 1963.
5.) Mooread, Max L. "Hernan Cortes and the Tehuantepec Passage." The Hispanic American Historical Review 29 (August 1949): 370-9.
6.) Townsend, Camilla. "Burying the White Gods: New Perspectivas on the Conquest of Mexico." American Historical Review 108 (June, 2003): 659- 87.
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