From Conquerors to Conquered, The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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History is possibly the most important area of study in the modern world. We begin our study of history at an early age and continue throughout our lives. We need to keep an account of the past in order to truly understand who we are today. The old saying, "history repeats itself," has a great deal of truth to it. The development of agriculture, architecture, and literature are just a few areas in which history has indeed repeated itself in different times, in different lands, but often from similar causes and with similar consequences. However, sometimes history's repetition takes on an ironic twist. Societies designed to empower the wealthy are overthrown by the poor. Individuals who are scorned and rejected during their lifetime are later realized for their progressive genius. An aggressive culture takes over an area, builds a great empire, only to be eventually overthrown by somebody else. This, the endless cycle of the conqueror becoming the conquered, is the case with the Aztec empire.

One of the most prominent topics of interest when studying history is conflict. We want to know what factors led to certain wars, how the winning side succeeded, and what the immediate and long term effects of the war were. The major difficulty in studying wars is the fact that their accounts are generally recorded by the victors. The losers are usually not in a position to challenge the victors' accounts or even to plead their case. This is the situation we face when we study the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The majority of the material on this subject has been taken from the Spanish accounts, such as the True History of the Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, and the Letters from Mexico by Hernando Cortes. This makes it difficult...