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Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest
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Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest


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  • 1. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest
    Hist 140 Theme 5
    Summer 2011
    By: Le Thi My Ho
  • 2. Acknowledgements
    The number 7 has almost mystical qualities
    The number 7 has deep roots and symbolic significance in the history of the Americas, both Native American and Spanish
    The origin myth of the Mexica included a tale of descent from 7 lineages, who emerged from 7 cages in a mythical location in the Mexican north
    Las SietePartidas (The Seven Items)- Medieval Spanish law code during the Conquest period
    Rumored to be 7 cities of gold in Cibola
  • 3. 1 A Handful of Adventures
    Las SietePartidas (The Seven Items/Aspects)
    1 The use of legalistic measures to lend a veneer of validity to an expedition
    2 The appeal to higher authority, typically and ideally the king himself
    3 The search for precious metals
    4 Need to acquire native allies
    5 The acquisition of an interpreter
    6 The use of display violence or the theatrical use of violence
    7 The public seizure of a native ruler
  • 4. 3 Invisible Warriors
    The “invisible warriors” of this myth took an additional form, that of Africans, free and enslaved, who accompanied Spanish invaders and in later campaigns equaled or exceeded them in number
    Cortes was successful exploiting native rivalries and divisions and gaining allies
    Songs of Aztecs present the war as a kind of civil or local conflict, between rival city-states within the same ethnic and linguistic area
    Black slaves were originally brought for labor, but most functioned as personal auxiliaries
  • 5. 7 Apes and Men
    We are still living in “the contact period”
    In colonial times, Spaniards sought to confine history by harnessing it to what may be the simplest trope ever invented to explain human behavior, differences between peoples, and the outcome of historical events – the trope of superiority
    Indigenous inferiority was expressed in terms that denied Native American their humanity
    The opposition of man and native, the civilized and the barbarous, the advanced and the primitive, is seen everywhere, not only in colonial and early modern sources
  • 6. 7 Apes and Men
    Conquistador Hernan Cortes reasons why the Conquest was a “just cause”:
    1 We were fighting against a barbarian people to spread our Faith
    2 To serve your Majesty
    3 To protect our lives
    4 Many of the natives were our allies and would assist