When the conquistadors were battling the Aztecs, weapons that were thousands of years apart were pitted against each other. The Spaniards had the best European steel available, as well as an early form of musket, while the Aztecs fought with weapons made from wood, rock, and copper.(Hassig, 1992) The machuahuitl, a razor sharp sword, the tematlatl, a sling, and the tlacochtli, an obsidian pointed spear, were all simplistic, but the Aztecs could cause remarkable damage with these weapons. Conquistadors were equipped with steel swords and lances, and horses made the cavalry remarkably effective in combat. While it seems that this was a one sided fight, the conquistadors continuously struggled against these opponents. During his conquest of Central America, Hernán Cortés had difficultly subduing the local populations. Conquistadors were matched up against a culture that was in a continuous state of war, and had extremely deadly warriors.(Hassig, 1992) Steel armor and weapons, as well as guns, were not as decisive as history shows. The Aztecs were able to hold their own in battle, and were far from the primitive tribe that conquistador’s merely steamrolled over.
Spain emerged with a central identify in 1469. Until this point, Spain was involved in a civil war. Fighting ceased with the marriage of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.(Bowen, 2007) Within a few decades, Columbus made his historic journey with Spain’s backing, and arrived at what is now Central America. With a recently unified identity, and the practically untapped resources of the land, Spain quickly started colonizing the continent.(Bowen, 2007)
Over the course of colonization, several conquistador groups traveled to the Americas. Many conquistadors were not part of an official army, but merely mercenaries who wanted to gain riches through fighting and conquest. Hernan Cortes lead an national army in order to conquer the land and acquire riches for himself and the Spanish Empire.
There were two classes of conquistadors in Cortes' army, the foot soldiers, and the more distinguished cavalry. Foot soldiers were a lower class compared to cavalry; however they made up the bulk of the army. After a successful battle, cavalry were the first to acquire any goods from a captured city or army.(Diaz del Castillo, 1956) Foot soldiers were the last to be able to pillage after the cavalry. Foot soldiers would often save up enough money in order to purchase a horse, and elevate themselves to the rank of cavalry. Since cavalry would usually get the first chance to loot captured goods, the position was highly sought after.(Diaz del Castillo, 1956)
Cavalry were equipped with a four meter lance, and either a single, or double-handed sword (Bowen, 2007) Lances allowed for ranged combat, and were often the deciding factor in cavalry charges. Most foot soldiers preferred short swords forged in Toledo, Spain, which produced the best steel in Europe. Spanish short swords...