Reasons behind the Spanish conquest of Mexico

Essay by bosindy2University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2004

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During the early parts of the sixteenth century, as the Spanish conquistadors prepared themselves to drop anchor amid the shores of the "New World," a myriad different circumstances were beginning to unfold that would allow this small group of ambitious conquistadors to not only discover, but conquer the two main civilizations in the area. While no one main reason can be cited as the cause for the tremendous Spanish victory, several small factors combined to formulate this monstrous conquest. Disease, military technology, religious belief, and internal warfare served as a few of these very factors that allowed a few groups of only a hundred or so Spanish soldiers to massacre the Aztecs and the Incas, who's populations numbered in the millions.

Possibly the most important reason behind the Spanish's facility in conquering the New World was the ignorance and the welcoming nature of the native people. The Spanish were seen as god-like visitors at the time of their initial arrival, especially in the case of Hernan Cortés and the conquest of Mexico.

Regardless of whether or not Cortés was believed to be the returned Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the Spanish were still looked upon with great respect and dignity for their advanced ways of life. The Aztecs made offerings to the Spanish and welcomed them into their city, which Cortés used in order to map-out his attack plan on the city. He used the Aztec's unknowing generosity, religious superstition and naïveté as a facade for his master plan of conquest. The Aztec's, who were a generally passive group, were bewildered by the ferocity of the Spaniards. In "Broken Spears," after the Spanish massacred a town on their way to Mexico, "The people were downcast; they went about with their heads bowed down and greeted each other with tears."

Another of the...