Broken Spears

| September 15, 2020

The Broken Spears “The Broken Spears” is a collection of many accounts of the destruction of Mexico by Cortes and the conquistadors in their invasion. The motive behind this conquest was Cortes’ desire to bring a fortune of gold, spices, and land that can be claimed, back to Spain. Although these desires were admirable, they were sought after at the expense of the Aztecs and consequently changed an entire civilization, due to an initial drive for power, control, land, and money. Cortez along with the Spaniards ultimately destroys the Aztecs in their quest for fortune and fame.
The accounts are based on the Aztec’s perception of the invasion and include the revolt of the Aztec people that lead to the terror and the end of the Aztec civilization. The Spaniards first entrance into Tenochtitlan The novel begins with the description of a series of omens or premonitions, observed ten years prior, that was believed to be essential warnings of the coming invasion. The omens arouse many fearful and terrifying reactions. At the time, the meanings were unclear to the Natives.
According to the text, “Montezuma consulted various seers and magicians to learn whether the omens meant an approaching war or some other crisis”, however the magicians could not advise him. Not soon after, according to the second chapter, there were reports that “the mountains bore a strange people who have very light skin. They all have long beards, and their hair comes only to their ears. ” After much contemplation, Montezuma sent five messengers to greet the strangers and to bring them gifts believing that they might be Quetzalcoatl (God of learning and the wind) and other divinities returning to Mexico as they promised. 2:13)Montezuma gave specific instructions as to how to present the messengers and gifts to the strangers. The natives showed reverence to the strangers at their arrival by “touching the ground before him with their lips”. (25) However, Cortez in return gave orders to chain them by their necks and feet. When the messengers return, they inform Montezuma of the various firearms, animals, foods, and resources the Spaniard possessed, and he was astonished and terrified by their report. Montezuma’s attempts to keep the Spaniard away from the

Tenochtitlan included everything from sending out magicians and warlocks hoping that they could harm the Spaniards with their magic, to sending out captives to be sacrificed in their presence. With each failed attempt to prevent the Spaniards from entering Tenochtitlan, came the rising fears of the “inevitable”. As the Spaniard began to inquire about Montezuma, he contemplated fleeing and escaping the “gods”. Due to Montezuma’s failed attempts, Cortez and the Spaniards decided to begin marching In-land, in their arrival to Tlaxcala and Cholula.
One could argue that the invasion of these cities was due to the defiance and the fact that they would not surrender to Cortez’s control. During the march Cortez gained a larger army and allies. Once Cortez and the Spaniards reached the entrance of Tenochtitlan their march was complete. Montezuma then prepared to greet Cortez. According to the text, “He presented many gifts to the Captain and his commanders, those who had come to make war. He showered gifts upon them and hung flowers around their necks; he gave them necklaces of flowers and bands of flowers to adorn their breasts; he set garlands of flowers upon their heads.
Then he hung the gold necklaces around their necks and gave them presents of every sort as gifts of welcome. ” Not mentioned in the Broken Spears however, according to the Diaz document, Cortez offered Montezuma his right hand but Montezuma refused it. It also states that Cortez went to place fine a necklace on Montezuma’s neck, but his nephews stopped and refused him. The Spaniards seemed to portray a non confrontational notion, as if they arrived with pure intentions. The document’s perspective seems to contradict those of The Broken Spears.
The document describes the Aztec’s conversion to Christianity as a peaceful one. It also states that Montezuma pronounces that “I am in debt and will give all I poses,” revealing that Montezuma willingly gave of his possessions and land. However, according to The Broken Spears, the Aztecs were tortured and terrorized. The Expulsion from Tenochtitlan (Spring 1520) After imprisoning Montezuma, the Spaniards begin to terrorize the city, causing commotion and inflicting fear into the natives.
The terrorism that was taking place caused an uprising battles and massacres to take place. One example of the harshness inflicted on the Aztecs was the events that took place at a Fiesta. The Spaniard invaded the Fiesta, murdering many Aztecs and revealing the Spaniards did not abide by the Aztec rules or expectations of war. They were said to be reckless and extremely brutal, without respect or compassion. Preceding the surprise attack at the Fiesta, other attacks and retaliations arouse, such as the Night of Sorrow.
The Aztecs no longer desired to follow Montezuma’s initial orders for non retaliation. They decided to take up arms and fight against the Spanish. In the attack at the Fiesta, they fought with broken spears and attacked with javelins and arrows. However the Aztecs came to the realization that enough blood was shed. Montezuma’s body was discovered and it was unclear as to his cause of death. Since the Aztec no longer catered to the Spaniards by providing them with food, shelter and supplies, Cortez realizes that they must leave the land.
They planned to retreat at night, however the retreat was discovered. According to the text, “They attacked as the Spaniards were fleeing down the Tlacopan (now Tacuba) causeway, and the rout was so disastrous that it has been known ever since as “la noche triste,” the Night of Sorrows. Those who escaped the disaster found refuge in the nearby village of Teocalhueyacan, where they were welcomed as friends; but three-fourths of the army had perished in the retreat and in the siege that preceded it. The Aztecs benefited greatly from the fleeing of Spaniards. They gathered things that the Spaniard abandoned and claimed it for themselves. They collected weapons that had been left behind or had fallen into the canal-the cannons, swords, spears, bows and arrows-along with all the steel helmets, coats of mail and breast- plates, and the shields of metal, wood and hide. They recovered the gold ingots, the gold disks, the tubes of gold dust and the collars with their gold pendants. The violent recapture of Tenochtitlan (1521)
The Aztecs were convinced that the Spaniard would never return. They began to rebuild the city and the temples, and celebrated in a victorious manner. They choose a new King for the city; however it was not long that the Aztecs lived in tranquility. A horrible plague of smallpox quickly spread. The plague spread during the thirteenth month and lasted for seventy days, striking everywhere in the city. It was difficult for some to walk or even move. Many died from the disease, some died of hunger because they were incapable of searching for food.
The text describes that the first cases were reported in Cuatlan. By the time the danger was recognized, the plague was so well established that nothing could halt it, and eventually it spread all the way to Chalco. Then its cruelty diminished considerably, though there were isolated cases for many months after. The Spaniards returned without mercy. This time however they had more forces, and resources, and better technology. Although the Aztecs had a previous disposition, they retaliated, being aware this time, of some of the Spaniards tactics.
For example, discovered that the shots from the cannons always flew in a straight line, they no longer ran away in the line of fire. They ran to the right or left or in zigzags, not in front of the guns. After a great deal of battles and much bloodshed. The Aztecs eventually surrendered to the Spaniards. The Aztecs culture and civilization was eventually eradicated after the Spaniard burned the temples and destroyed their empires. In comparing the readings of The Broken Spears to some document excerpts, a large disparity is found. There were many actions that the Aztec’s took, that to some were considered barbaric.
For instance, in The Conquest of New Spain, Diaz describes the Aztecs to be somewhat savage like. He mentioned that they would “tear out the palpitation heart, with the blood, they present as idols” and they would eat “arms and thighs at their ceremonial banquets”. However, The Broken Spears describes these actions as sacred sacrifices that were signs of respect and honor. These reasons alone prove why separate accounts help understand history. There is a saying that states: “There are two sides to every story. ” The Broken Spears would be considered the other side

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