Monday, August 5, 2013

Hernán Cortés: hero or villain?


There is nothing more difficult for a historian to judge a conqueror. Hero or Villain? Some might argue that depends on the point of view, one that follows the path it has taken to reach the goal (Machiavelli said the ends justify the means, I'm not so sure). This blogger decides therefore refrain from making a value judgment. Cortés was a conqueror, that involves exploring, finding and removing who he thought was a stranger, but Darwin argued in his theory of natural selection, survival of the fittest and in Mexico it went, which meant the birth of a new civilization and the end of another.

Hernán Cortés Monroy Pizarro Altamirano was the Spanish conqueror of the Aztec Empire (today the center of Mexico). It was also Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, governor and captain general of New Spain.

In 1511 participated in the conquest of Cuba expedition led by Governor Diego de Velazquez, who received land and slaves on the island. It came to be appointed mayor of Santiago de Cuba, but was later imprisoned by the governor, accused of conspiring against him. Released, he married the sister of one Diego Velazquez, Catalina Suarez Marcayda name. Hernán Cortés was, however, with the preparations for the expedition, and because of his eloquence, powers of persuasion and suggestion, soon managed to recruit more than 600 men to their cause.

His first contact with the local civilization: it was on the island of Cozumel, a major shipping port and Mayan religious center. Immediately after introducing the local ruler Cortés asked to leave their religion and adopt Christianity sending his men to destroy the Mayan religious idols and put crosses and images of the Virgin Mary in the Temple. Nearby there was the crucial Battle of Centla. Although Potonchan authorities ordered bring food and water for them to leave. But Cortez said it was not enough and insisted that let his troops enter the city. The Spanish then attacked the city from two sides, resulting in a bloody battle that ended in the defeat of Potonchan and entry of Cortés and his men. After the defeat, Tabasco authorities did to Cortés offering food, jewelry, fabrics, and a group of twenty slaves, which were accepted, changed their names to be baptized and distributed among his men.

His encounter with the Aztecs finally Cortes received emissaries of Moctezuma, who sent him their respects and offerings of all kinds including valuable jewelry and ornaments. But Cortes kept insisting visit his emperor, who did not give his permission. Cortés then noticed that the Aztec Empire had enemies and that this facilitated their plans. He began to develop a strategy in order to take advantage of grudges and hatreds that had to the Mexica domain. He offered to neighboring communities and the Aztecs faced an alliance would end with "absolute freedom" of the original peoples. The August 16, 1519, Cortés left the coast and began their march inland, heading into the heart of the Aztec Empire, with an army of 1,300 warriors Totonac, 200 Indian carriers, 6 guns, 400 infantry and 15 cavalry Spanish .

The rest of the story is known, killing and conquest, city after city to Tenochtitlan. The end of the Aztecs, the beginning of the Mexican civilization.