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The Fall of the Aztecs - Essay Example

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In the paper “The Fall of the Aztecs” the author tries to understand why the Spaniards successfully conquered a vast and advanced empire of the Aztecs. This “white god” explanation seems overly simplistic but this was given preference by most historians…
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The Fall of the Aztecs
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Download file to see previous pages It is also not true that the natives gave way to the newcomers because of the mistaken belief that a white man came back to them as a god prophesied by their high priests. This had been the main narrative in several history books but a closer examination of all extant documents did not show a belief among natives that Hernando Cortes was their god Quetzalcoatl. A credible explanation how a few intrepid men were able to conquer an empire was by duplicity and guile. Discussion The most common or popular explanation among historians as to why the Spaniards did successfully conquer a vast and advanced empire of the Aztecs was the main narrative the natives did not offer much resistance because of their supposedly mistaken belief that Hernando Cortes is a god who went to the east and vowed to come back as Quetzalcoatl. It was just a coincidence that he arrived on the same year the god was expected to come back. On the contrary, another white explorer named Juan de Grijalva was the one believed to be a god a year earlier in 1518.1 This “white god” explanation seems overly simplistic but this was given preference by most historians who based their studies and conclusions from recovered documents before and after the conquest. Incidentally, most of the writings were written by the heirs of nobles and the priests whose duties at that time were to foresee the future and so this explanation gained some prominence because these writers tried to protect the reputation of their forebears who cannot be portrayed as not being able to tell the future, hence this explanation acquired credence. Moreover the god Quetzalcoatl is a relatively minor god in the pantheon of gods among the natives, and so ascribing Cortes as Quetzalcoatl does not make much sense. The “white god” belief is not a very viable explanation in this regard. Most of the writers were descendants of priests and seers who were being blamed for not knowing the existence of the Spaniards prior to their arrival.2 The most logical and credible explanation of why a few Spaniards overcame an empire is simply their superior weaponry. What they possessed at that time in military technology was a vast superiority such that a few hundred men can fight off against several thousand ill-equipped native warriors. There was simply a huge discrepancy in the military capabilities between those two combatants, with the Spaniards equipped with swords, helmets, body armor and their horses. In particular, the use of war horses was particularly effective; just three horses can turn around a hopeless dire situation into a victorious rout if used correctly against the hordes of mass warriors. Additionally, harquebus and crossbows could inflict casualties at a great distance; the mounted lances and cannons further provide a long-range military advantage against the natives. Diseases like smallpox did the rest in decimating the Aztecs, described by them as a pestilence. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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