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The Role of Environmental and Geographical Factors in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire - Essay Example

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Contrary to the popular notion of the Conquistadors’ superiority, having defeated the Aztec Empire, evidence from various studies conducted by different researchers suggest that the collapse of the empire was a result of far more natural causes…
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The Role of Environmental and Geographical Factors in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire
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Matthew Restall is a pioneering professor who has also discovered that history has been exaggerated in terms of how conquistadors actually captured the ancient settlement in Mexico.It becomes abundantly clear that the downfall of the Aztec empire was not merely an outcome of the conquistador’s attack, but the compounded effect of other elements such as germs and epidemics, geographical conditions such as drought, famines, modern weaponry and the deployment of steel on weapons and armor as well as the hatred people had against the ruler Montezuma. Many people believed that the victory of the conquistadors was because of their better evolution than the Aztec population. Evidence from historical accounts also tended to support this theory. The Mesoamerican people were considered to be barbarians and, while this might arise out of their rituals such as human sacrifices and cannibalism, such religious acts do not necessarily measure the enlightenment of a particular race. Jared Diamond in “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” one of his most significant books, tried to set right such misconceptions regarding the fall of the great Aztec Empire. He professed that race and ethnicity do not determine one culture’s superiority over the other, and he used this theory to counter the general belief of how the conquistadors won. ...
Diamond and Restall believe that the collapse of the Aztec Empire was a result of “Spanish germs, horses, literacy, political organization, and technology” (Diamond 28). The Aztec Empire was a flourishing civilization with its own food production methods, fertile lands, and was comprised of hard-working people including farmers. The population had evolved from hunter-gatherers and was now a full-fledged settlement backed with ample infrastructure. With the help of farming and cultivation the Aztecs were able to yield a lot of food surplus that could support non-farmers as well as women and children. Now food surplus meant more population and more population meant more risk of diseases and exposure to various types of disease causing germs. Furthermore, the population was also advanced in terms of domestication of various animals, which was again a primary source of spreading diseases. The natives spent much time with animals and further utilized animals to transport the food surpluses from one place to the other, which left more than sufficient chance for the germs to be transferred to humans as well as those food materials. However, throughout time, the indigenous people had developed some immunity against these germs. Despite such immunity, when the conquistadors arrived in Mesoamerica, they brought with them different germs that originated from foreign lands. These germs caused an incurable disease at the time, namely small-pox, to which the Aztecs had no resistance. Therefore, diseases caused through both indigenous germs as well as Eurasian germs resulted in the deaths of a lot of people, as there was significant contact among both exposed and unexposed individuals. Besides, this fact was evidenced by Diamond when he said that “99 percent of previously ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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