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Victors And Vanquished Essay

1399 words - 6 pages

Victors and Vanquished

     The history of the Western hemisphere is full of war and conquest. One of the most significant and defining of those conquests is the downfall of the Mexica/Aztec Empire. While there are many other events to choose from, this one stands out since it was one over one of the largest empires in Central America. It is also important to look at because of the immense cultural impact it had. The story of this takeover reads like a movie script, a small band of Spaniards single handedly takes down the most powerful empire in Central America. It was an epic battle, which unfortunately led to the destruction of a magnificent culture. As in any major historical event there are many underlying themes and storylines that come together to make the event happen. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec is no different. Three major themes are seen in this struggle. One of them is the incredible advantage that the Spaniards technology gave them over the Aztecs. A second major theme is the greed that fueled the conquests in the New World. The last major theme was the effect of the political divisions and rivalries within Montezuma’s Central American Kingdom. As this historical event progressed each one of these themes began to intertwine until they became an almost unstoppable force.
     One of the principle themes in the Aztec downfall was the immense greed of the Europeans. The principle goal of every major faction in Europe was to gain power and wealth it didn’t matter from what source. Everyone from popes and kings to the lowly soldier envisioned rivers of gold and fame. Ever since they had boats Europeans have been looking for lucrative trade routes and other ways to turn a profit. The ruling monarchs of these countries contributed a great deal to this. They saw vast profits from these ventures through taxes and the customary “ Royal Fifth” which was a fifth of all profits would go straight to the King and/or Queen. Also royalty or other nobility within the country personally funded a large majority of explorations. Trading and exploration companies just helped push the trend further and made the exploitation of newly discovered lands big business. While greed was defiantly a starting point for Cortez’s expedition, it was his greed while in Central Mexico that changed the tide of history. Cortez’s first encounters with the natives in Central Mexico gave him crucial information about a large wealthy nation that was further inland. While still on the coast representatives from this nation canoed out to Cortez, which officially started relations between Spain and the Aztecs. Among many things given to the Spaniards during the first few days of contact with the Aztecs was a large chest of gold figures along many other expensive things. This gesture of good will by the Aztecs would eventually lead to their downfall. The moment Cortez started receiving all these wonderful items his mind was most likely made up that he would do whatever...

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