The Fall of the Aztec and Inca Empires
In this essay I will tell how the Aztec and Inca empires ended, and also I will compare the fall of both empires, using for a point of departure the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the land of Mexico. Wherever the Spanish went always the same thing happened, from my point of view. Innocent people were killed for no good reason, cities were massacred, civilizations were destroyed or forced to convert to Christianity. And so, I think now is the time to reevaluate the actions of the European explorers who subjugated the native American peoples and their civilizations. Undoubtedly the most glorified and heroically portrayed of these figures of the European conquest of the New World were the conquistadors, the Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru in the 16-th century. These men, under leaders such as Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizzaro nearly eliminated the Aztec and Inca peoples. Surely many of these soldiers were extremely cruel and intolerant of the native populations. But it is important to consider, with the push of both sides toward territorial expansion, how these groups (European and American) could remain isolated from each other. Furthermore, with meeting of these two imperialist cultures, it must be considered whether it would be possible for the two to peacefully coexist.
From the point of view of what we know today it seems impossible that Europe could have remained completely ignorant until the XVI century with respect a civilization that by then had existed in Mexico for more than one thousand five hundred years. Equally astonishing is the indifference that the conquerors showed towards the universe that by pure luck crossed their path. Nothing shows the attitude Cortes had - attitude that he kept util the end of the conquest - better than the gift he made to the Aztec chiefs: even though his wonder upon discovering signs of a great cultural refinement, he did not doubt for even one moment that he was in the presence of a barbarian people, interesting only because it was amazingly rich. None of his written memoirs show the slightest wish to understand the Indians; in reality, he condemned them before having known them even in the most superficial manner.
By the time when Moctezuma II, the last Aztec emperor (also known as Montezuma or Motecuhzoma), became king in 1502 the city of Tenochtitlan, together with its neighbor Tlatelolco, counted with more than 60 000 houses and had a population over 300 000 inhabitants; in other words it had a size 5 times than London in the times of Henry VIII. Throughout the first seventeen years of Moctezuma's reign, the empire was plagued with constant uprisings of peoples who had been harshly subjugated by the Aztecs and wished to escape the tributes required of them. Moctezuma had left the consolidation of the empire up to his generals while he devoted his time to wordily pleasures and religious duties in Tenochtitlan.
Across the Atlantic...