Spain Meets Mexico


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  • Christopher Columbus – 1492, searched for new route to Asia, landed in America (Caribbean islands) – news reached Spain
  • Hernan Cortes, February 1519, set sail from Cuba, , army of 500 on eastern coast of Mexico, learned of powerful Aztec Empire and launched march inland – picked up thousands of Native Americans bitter at Aztecs
  • Ruler of the Toltecs In Aztec mythology, Quetzalcoatl is not only is shown as a god but as the magical and very human lord of the highly revered Toltec people ( Nicholson 2001).  In his human form Quetzalcoatl is known under the name Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl.  Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl is rumored to be priest, magician, and lord to his people.
  • According to popular myth, the Aztecs thought that Cortes was Quetzalcoatl returning from the west (Gonzalez and Read 2000).  Stories suggest that Motecuhzoma II could not decide if Cortes was Quetzalcoatl or not.  Stories also suggest that people believed that he was Quetzalcoatl and would lead them into a new golden age.
  • Hernan Cortez and his men crushed the Aztec empire and its people, and placed them into virtual slavery. The wars exacted a substantial toll, but it was the subsequent disease that was the worst. In some areas 80% of the population died from smallpox, of which the indigenous peoples had no natural immunity for. (Diego Rivera, 1951, Palacio Nacional in Ciudad de México).
  • Spain Meets Mexico

    1. 3. Where have all the Aztecs gone? Mexico and Texas during the Spanish Exploration of the 16 th Century
    2. 10. Question: Did Tenochtitlan impress Cortes in any way? How so? <ul><li>“ The city has many open squares in which markets are continuously held and the general business of buying and selling proceeds…[T]here are daily more than sixty thousand folk buying and selling. Every kind of merchandise such as may be met with in every land is for sale there…” </li></ul>
    3. 11. Question: How did Cortes view Aztec religious life? <ul><li>“Finally, …I will simply say that the manner of living among the people is very similar to that in Spain, and considering that this is a barbarous nation shut off from a knowledge the true God or communication with enlightened nations, one may well marvel at the orderliness and good government is everywhere maintained.” </li></ul>
    4. 12. In Cortes’s opinion, why was Tenochtitlan barbaric ? <ul><li>Non-Catholic </li></ul><ul><li>Polytheistic </li></ul><ul><li>Participate in human sacrifice </li></ul><ul><li>Isolated </li></ul><ul><li>Non-”Enlightened” </li></ul>
    5. 14. Explorers to Mexico <ul><li>Christopher Columbus </li></ul><ul><li>Hernan Cortes </li></ul><ul><li>Alvarez de Pineda </li></ul><ul><li>Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca </li></ul><ul><li>Antonio de Mentoza </li></ul>
    6. 16. Cabeza de Vaca <ul><li>Conquistador </li></ul><ul><li>Healer/Shaman </li></ul><ul><li>Leader of Expedition </li></ul><ul><li>Adventurer </li></ul><ul><li>Friend of Karankawas </li></ul><ul><li>Messiah? </li></ul>
    7. 19. What did Cabeza de Vaca find? <ul><li>“cows” with small horns (buffalo) </li></ul><ul><li>Native Americans </li></ul><ul><li>“vast and handsome,” “very fertile” land </li></ul><ul><li>Copper, emeralds, turquoise </li></ul>
    8. 20. <ul><li>As a result, his stories encouraged more and more Spanish expeditions into northern Mexico (Texas), and their dominion spread. </li></ul>