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.
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.
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.
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.
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.