Courage and Cowardice In Cortez and Montezuma

4 April 2015
Describes the Spanish conquest of the Aztec civilization. Examines the actions of both sides in the war and attempts to discern what actions occurred out of courage or out of cowardice

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, they found a flourishing civilization firmly in place in the form of the Aztecs of Mexico. Within a short time, the Spanish had destroyed this civilization and eradicated much of its culture. In addition to the desire for conquest, gold, and similar purposes, the conquistadors were grossly offended by the idolatry of the Aztecs and by one particular religious practice, that of human sacrifice. As Leon-Portilla notes in his book The Broken Spears, the story of the conquest has been told entirely from the point of view of the conquerors, and he offers in his book the account from the side of the conquered peoples, the first of them written only seven years after the conquest:

These writings make up a brief history of the Conquest as told by the victims, and include passages written by …

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