Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

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Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest

  1. 1. Seven Myths of theSpanish ConquestBy DJ Heston
  2. 2. A Handful of Adventurers Chapter 1 The focus on a few prominent characters marginalizes the many other individuals who played crucial roles in the events of history. Christopher Columbus had important Portuguese connections and had neither a unique plan or unique pattern of previous experience. Columbus’ discoveries were and accidental geographical byproduct of Portuguese expansion two centuries old. Probanzas were reports written by conquerors which were sent back to Spanish monarchs for the purpose of gaining office, title, or pension. The probanzas were biased and eventually evolved into historical recollections. One of the reasons Hernan Cortes became idolized was because of his rapid publication and wide circulation of letters to the king.
  3. 3. A Handful of Adventurers Chapter 1 The Conquest pattern was a procedure followed by many, which included: o Use legalistic measures to lend validity to an expedition o Leading vast expeditions o Acquiring native allies o Acquiring native interpreters o The display of violence Many of these aspects were already part of Native American and European expansion and warfare.
  4. 4. Invisible Warriors Chapter 3  “Invisible warriors” were Africans, free and enslaved, who accompanied Spanish invaders.  The Tlaxcalans provided the Spanish an ally against the Mexica empire although they were virtually unacknowledged and unrewarded.  The Spaniards exploited the native divisions and smallpox emphasized that effect with the death of the Inca ruler Huayna Capac and his heir.  Native people are everywhere in the Conquest alongside the Spaniards.  Africans were ever-present to the conquest of Mexico as well as the Spanish invasion and colonization of the Americas.  Africans in the Americas were motivated to develop martial skills as a means to acquire freedom, which was a black conquistador’s standard reward.
  5. 5. Apes and Men Chapter 7 The conquistadors had two great allies in the Conquest: disease and native disunity. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, and the flu arrived from people and domesticated animals from the Old World wreaking havoc on the Native Americans. Native peoples saw themselves as members of a community instead of a larger group of “natives” which created disunity among them. The Spaniard’s military advantages of guns, steel, horses, dogs, and tactical skills were touted, but the natives acquired the same technology during the Conquest. The sword was the major weapon; longer and less brittle than the obsidian weapons of the natives. The differing culture of war between the Spanish and the natives was also an important role in the Conquest.
  6. 6. Epilogue: Cuauhtemoc’s Betrayal The story of the Mexica emperor – Cuauhtemoc’s death has been written from four different perspectives. The Cortes and Gomara accounts are similar in reporting the captive lords were planning a revolt to kill all Spaniards. The Nahua nobleman Ixtilxochitl suggested Cortes initiated the plot against the lords. The Maya account showed truth to it because it was devoid of stereotypes. When the varying texts are compared it is hard to tell who betrayed Cuauhtemoc. With the communication barriers of language and interpretation, the whole affair could have been a tragic mess of misunderstandings.

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