Monday, March 12, 2012

The Conquest of Mexico

The Siege of Tenochtitlan (what is now Mexico City) occurred in 1521, and resulted in the defeat of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma and the eventual victory of the Conquistador, Hernán Cortés. It was interesting for a number of reasons, perhaps most notably that it was a clash of two of the age's most powerful civilisations, and was one of its greatest naval battles, strangely occurring hundreds of miles from the ocean and two kilometres above sea level (Cortés had his ships and cannons transported over land and reassembled prior to the fighting). It signaled the end of the Aztec Empire, the dismantling of Aztec culture and infrastructure and the expansion of Spanish colonialism and wealth.

I found a BBC podcast in which a group of historians discuss the events of the siege and what happened before and after, including their perspective of life under Aztec rule prior to the arrival of the Spanish. It treats Cortés somewhat sympathetically, which is not a view that I've found to be very prevalent during my time living in Mexico City.

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