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Childress

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  1. "Conquistadors sacrificed and eaten by Aztec-era people, archaeologists say" https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/10/conquistadors-sacrificed-eaten-aztec-acolhuas -The Guardian
  2. You're getting ahead. The invention that the Aztecs should have perfected first was the wheel. The Spaniards did notice that wheels were common on their children's toys. The Indians didn't make the leap. By the way, all the Indians in Mexico- including the Spaniards' allies- were devotees of cannibalism. Cortes would plead with them to forsake that practice but to no avail. The Indians were puzzled with his attitude, for them it was perfectly normal.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin's_poetry As a young man, Stalin avidly studied the works of Shakespeare and Goethe in translation. One of his poems: "The pinkish bud has opened,Rushing to the pale-blue violetAnd, stirred by a light breeze,The lily of the valley has bent over the grass." He wrote in his native Georgian language and later Russian. Robert Service, one of his biographers, wasn't enthusiastic: "fairly standard for early 19th-century Romantic poetry", and as "very conventional, ... very standardized and rather self-indulgent". Stalin published all of his work anonymously and never publicly acknowledged it. When Lavrentiy Beria secretly had Boris Pasternak and other noted translators prepare a Russian edition of Stalin's poems for the ruler's 70th birthday in 1949, Stalin had the project stopped. -Wiki
  4. Oops. Noticed an error: The Spaniards faced odds of 100 to 1. Make that 10,000-1: 50 million Indians vs 500+ conquistadors.
  5. The ravages of smallpox on a population without immunity: Virologists believe that early explorers first brought the virus to the littoral regions Once Cortes arrived it took two years for the smallpox to spread to the Aztec capitol. A native account describes of the effects of smallpox upon the people of Tenochtitlan: It began to spread…striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people. Sores erupted on our faces, our breasts, our bellies; we were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot. The illness was so dreadful that no one could could walk or move. The sick were so utterly helpless that they could only lie on their beds like corpses, unable to move their limbs or even their heads. They could not lie face down or roll from one side to the other. If they did move their bodies, they screamed with pain. A great many died from this plague, and many others died of hunger. They could not get up to search for food, and everyone else was too sick to care for them, so they starved to death in their beds. By 1520 Tenochtitlan was under siege by Cortés and the people were both starving and dying from smallpox. Bernal Diaz, Cortés’ chronicler, described the scenes in the city: We could not walk without treading on the bodies and heads of dead Indians. I have read about the destruction of Jerusalem, but I do not think the mortality was greater there than here in Mexico. Indeed, the stench was so bad that no one could endure it…and even Cortés was ill from the odours which assailed his nostrils. Past Medical History https://www.pastmedicalhistory.co.uk/smallpox-and-the-conquest-of-mexico/
  6. When you realized you were becoming an imperialist?
  7. Tks, benpark. The Spanish conquest remains an immense historical event, it transformed a continent creating a new racial category, the Mestizo, that now constitutes over 90 percent of the Mexican population. Unlike our plantation owners and imperialists, the conquistadors were not squeamish about hooking up with the natives. “Aguirre, Wrath of God” dealt with the later conquest of the Incas, arguably an even greater military achievement given the challenges: the Inca empire was larger and situated in mountainous terrain. However Pizarro, a brave but an illiterate thug, was considerably more ruthless than Cortes. He's probably not an appealing subject. At this stage it's unlikely Hollywood will gift us with a film on Cortes and the conquest of Mexico, however deserving- too many conflicting interests. Poll: was Cortes a great man? This essay was originally posted on a history site, now defunct (Thanks Disqus!). I have dozens of these orphans from various sites on the hard drive I'll post the suitable ones if there's interest. The original version of the OP included a section pondering the subject of 'race' in modern Mexico. If there's interest I'll add it to this thread: warning it's (somewhat) controversial.
  8. We Spaniards know a sickness of the heart that only gold can cure. - Cortes Hernán Cortés was born in Medellin in 1485, the son of a minor noble. At the age of 19 he left Spain, abandoning a promising legal career, to seek his fortune in the newly-discovered Western Hemisphere. He arrived in Hispaniola, a recent Spanish acquisition, in 1504 and spent several years as a gentleman farmer and a local Don Juan. Following the conquest of Cuba, he married the sister of the governor of Cuba, Diego Velasquez, who appointed him mayor of Santiago. Cortés as a young man Expeditions to the Yucatán had returned to Cuba with small amounts of gold, and tales of a more distant land where that metal was said to be abundant. Cortés eagerly sold or mortgaged all his lands to buy ships and supplies and arranged with Velázquez to lead an expedition, officially to explore and trade with the new lands to the west. Cortés was forbidden to colonize, but calling on his legal studies and his formidable powers of persuasion, he tricked Velázquez into inserting a clause about emergency measures, ‘in the true interests of the realm’. At the last minute Velasquez, increasingly troubled by his son-in-law’s over-weaning ambition, changed his mind. He attempted to reverse his order but it was too late to stop the highly motivated Cortés who arrived on Good Friday, 1519, at the present Mexican city of Veracruz. He brought 11 ships, 13 primitive hand guns. 10 cannon, 16 horses, 32 crossbows and 550 men. Cortés soon met a native woman he named Dona Marina, her knowledge of the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs- and later Spanish- proved a crucial asset. She became his concubine and gave birth to a son, Martin, perhaps the first Mestizo. Demographers estimate that the country's population at the time was approximately 20 million. Some of his troops were disheartened by the odds so, before marching inland so Cortés ordered the burning of the fleet (1). They would perish or triumph. Tenochtitlán The Aztecs presided over a wealthy tribute-empire, their capital, Tenochtitlan an island city accessed by causeways, was ideal for defense. While human sacrifice was common throughout Mesoamerica the Aztecs brought this practice to an unprecedented level. In 1487, on the re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, they reported that they had sacrificed 80,000 prisoners over the course of four days. Strictly organized and advanced given the time and place, the Aztec confederation seemed at first glance far from being a pushover; it was able field of an estimated half million fanatical warriors. The Spaniards faced odds of 100 to 1. Soon after arrival, Cortés learned that the Aztecs had a great capital that lay inland and that they were hated by much of the non-Aztec population, many of whom had been captured and slain in the Aztecs’ hideous rituals. Advancing into Mexico the Spaniards met stiff resistance from other tribes but Cortés succeeded into turning them into allies. An artist’s conception of Moctezuma The Aztec ruler, Moctezuma , planned a surprise attack on the Spaniards but Cortés struck first, massacring thousands of them at Cholula and he entered Tenochtitlán in 1521 without opposition. He was diplomatically received by the Emperor, uncertain of the Spaniards’ motives, determined to learn the intruders’ vulnerabilities and crush them later. Cortés and his men were lavished with gold and quartered in sumptuous apartments. But Cortés remained uneasy—the Spaniards were vastly outnumbered so he decided to imprison Moctezuma and make him a puppet. It seemed that the conquest was complete. (2) But another Spanish force, under Panfilo de Narvaez, arrived on the coast with orders to arrest Cortés. The conquistador left a garrison in the Capital and raced the greater part of his men to the coast where he defeated Narvaez. Always the consummate salesman, he persuaded the survivors to join him dazzling them with rich prospects. By the time Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán Pedro de Alvarado, his lieutenant left in charge, had antagonized the Aztecs beyond endurance and, suffering heavy casualties, Cortés and the remnant of his army were forced to retreat in the rain-soaked Noche Triste. (3) While Cortés and his troops were planning their hasty retreat a lieutenant failed to fully inform Spaniards located in another part of the city. The group of around 270 men were sealed in their positions, starved, and eventually sacrificed to the Aztec gods. The Spanish managed to get some of the treasure out of the city, but most of the loot- estimated at eight tons of gold and silver- was lost and never recovered. Cortés returned with additional troops and laid siege to Tenochtitlán; the fighting was fierce with no quarter given. At one point, he and his men watched from a distance as captured Spanish soldiers were forced to perform a ghostly dance in the torch-lit Aztec palace before being tortured, dismembered and eaten. After hideous carnage Cortés ordered the building of boats, bypassing the deadly causeways. The army re-entered the island capital after three months. After that, Spanish control of Mexico was reasonably secure. Tenochtitlán was rebuilt in the Spanish style and renamed Mexico City, becoming the capital of New Spain. Never in the annals of warfare had so few conquered so many. Cortés’ startling achievement remains, in terms of American film, the Greatest Story Never Told. (3) MILITARY ASPECTS Spanish soldiers had recently expelled the Muslims from Granada after centuries of bitter struggle; they were hardened and battled-tested; in the 16th century their Tercios were the most feared formation in Europe. Spanish armor and swords, made in Toledo, were among the finest in the world. Man for man, they were likely the toughest hombres of the era. Living in perpetual state of warfare, Aztec males were forced to provide mandatory military service. They were trained from childhood in the expert use of clubs, bows, spears, and darts- but they needed a lucky shot to bring down a (partially) armored Spaniard. The elite troops, the Jaguars, wore padded cotton for protection useless when facing Toledo steel. The Aztecs fielded a variety of colorful formations; the Spanish were stunned by the sheer pageantry. Rather than killing the Aztecs focused on the entrapment of their enemies. Once seized these were delivered up to their warrior-priests for ritual sacrifice, their beating hearts ripped out while still conscious. The Spaniard who discarded his armor in the tropical heat risked a horrific end, and many did. Did the Spanish firearms give them an overwhelming tactical advantage? Not really. The primitive guns of the time had a limited range and took a long time to reload, they made a terrifying noise but were often less effective than good bows and arrows. The Indians had never encountered horses but these were few and vulnerable on narrow mountain passes. The Spanish cannons did prove useful notably during the siege of Tenochtitlán but the vast majority of the Aztecs were killed, mano a mano, by pike and sword. Leadership, experience and determination, rather than weaponry, were the main factors in victory. Cortés enjoyed good luck but, as the saying goes, fortune favors the brave. Perhaps the Spaniards’ most potent, if inadvertent, weapon was smallpox that began spreading out to the indigenous population. Spanish explorers probably carrying the virus had arrived decades earlier; the Indians possessed no immunity. By the time the Spanish began their final assault on Tenochtitlán, bodies bearing the tell-tale rash lay scattered over the city. The relative absence of Spanish plague victims reinforced the conquerors’ conviction that Heaven was watching over them. According to Aztec lore a god had, in the distant past, instructed them in agriculture, metallurgy and agriculture; he had been tall, with white skin, and a flowing beard. To Moctezuma, it seemed Cortés was the returning god, and this belief seems to have influenced his behavior. Certainly his initial reactions to the invasion were indecisive. THE CHARACTER OF CORTÉS Cortés in later life That Cortés was greedy and ambitious is beyond doubt but he proved a superb diplomat when dealing with the Indians (at first) and recalcitrant troops. He was also a product of the era. He and his soldiers believed they were fighting under the banner of the Cross, more than once, Cortés imperiled the success of the expedition by heavy-handed attempts to convert the Indians. Cortés was a womanizer on a grand scale and his secret weapon was a teenage Indian girl he acquired before marching on Tenochtitlán. Invaluable as a translator she became one his (many) mistresses. ‘La Malinche’ alerted Cortés when treachery was afoot, saving the Spanish bacon on more than one occasion from Aztec plots. Malinche and Cortés . A modern mural by Jose Clemente Orozco In 1522, after finally conquering the Aztec Empire, Cortés received an unexpected visitor: his wife, Catalina, whom he had left behind in Cuba. Catalina could not have been pleased to see her husband shacking up with a dusky mistress. On November 1 Cortés hosted a party at his home and Catalina angered him by making disparaging comments about the Indians. (4) She died that very night, and Cortés put out the story that she had a bad heart but servants discovered bruises on her neck. Detractors described Cortés as haughty, under-handed and quarrelsome but he had admirable qualities as well; he was courageous, intelligent and shrewdly observant; in contrast to his illiterate successor, Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of the Incas, he wasn’t wantonly cruel. Cortés inspired loyalty, he understood men, and his leadership was never questioned. At the end Pizarro’s disgruntled officers assaulted him; dying in the dirt he traced a cross and uttered ‘Jesus’ before expiring. In his will, Cortés pondered the justice of owning Indian slaves requesting his son to consider the matter carefully, an attitude utterly alien to Pizarro or Columbus. He died an embittered but wealthy man in 1547 having spent his last seven years in Spain vainly trying to restore his authority in the New World. FOOTNOTES 1- Some historians maintain that Cortés scuttled the ships, permitting water to fill the hulls. Same result. 2- The fate of Moctezuma is unclear; he was either killed during a skirmish or stoned to death while pacifying the city’s population during the Spanish occupation. 3- But…. Amazon Studios has green-lighted ‘Cortés ’, a four-hour miniseries based on the epic saga of Hernán Cortés starring Oscar winner Javier Bardem (<i>No Country for Old Men</i>) in the title role. The series, from three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg and Amblin Television, is created for television and written by Spielberg’s Oscar-winning <i>Schindler’s List</i> writer Steven Zaillian based on a 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo -Deadline Hollywood, April 18, 2018
  9. Your 2 meaty posts together rival or surpass my essay in word count. I'll find some time later to properly digest your points. I find the mass movements of the 20th century with their religious aspects, fascinating. Each of them blossomed into a tyranny of frustrated intellectuals (and artists), from the leaders down. The Nazi and Soviet governments were paradises of clerks. The same could be said of early Christianity.
  10. For most people, Napoleon and his hat are one. No symbol ever so completely represented a historical character. Fully conscious of the force of this symbolism, Bonaparte made it part of his image early on in the Consulate. He chose two military uniforms, one of the Grenadiers à pied and the other of the Chasseurs à cheval of the Garde, but the way he wore his hat was entirely his own. Whilst most of his officers wore their hats “en colonne”, that is, perpendicular to the shoulders, Napoleon wore his “en bataille”, that is, with the corns parallel to shoulders. His simple and sober outfit contrasted strongly with the officers around him, glorious in their plumed hats. It meant that he was immediately recognisable amongst his troops on the battlefield.-https://www.napoleon.org/en/history-of-the-two-empires/objects/napoleons-hat/ When digging (not very hard) re Napoleon's hat I came across a site that claimed the 'sideways' stricture was most common during the early years. Now I can't find it. This painting shows the earlier style.
  11. Christie's London has recently offered one of Napoleon's bicorne hats (above). Price: 500,000 pounds. It's said that he normally bought dark green velvet hats, specially made, from Poupart & Cie, Paris. He detested those off the production line and assigned valets the task of breaking them in. The dimensions suggest that despite his short stature the Emperor owned an unusually large head. The convention of the time was to wear these hats with their corners pointed forward and back, a la the Duke of Wellington. Napoleon wore his sideways allegedly to render his figure instantly identifiable on the battlefield, that style being forbidden to subalterns. Or was it a precocious example of clever branding similar to Churchill's cigar or Hitler's toothbrush mustache? Does an aspiring demagogue need to sell himself, cut through the noise and package his brand? Hitler and the Nazis were marketing geniuses, beginning with the Swastika. The Communists under Stalin surpassed their matchless pageantry in size, but not in style.
  12. Um... Expand? The following paragraph somewhat modifies those assertions.
  13. The often attached criticism that communist movements are inherently violent disregards that developing nations are often violent places, and it ignores the violence the Liberal Democracies inflicted upon South America or Africa for centuries through their own colonialist and imperialist policies whether directly or indirectly. While if the system that Lenin established does not invariably result in massacres it certainly seems to make it relatively easy for such excesses to occur. Ostensibly Lenin spent his entire life in an attempt to eliminate oppression, but the net result of his- and his successors- activities was the destruction of individual liberties throughout a sizable portion of the globe. Penury followed. Communism was- and is- a militant faith immune to results or logic. IMHO. ...out of the existing 700 pages only 100 had been uncut. That should read 'cut'.
  14. An interesting historical sidebar: in 1873 Karl Marx sent Charles Darwin a personally inscribed copy of the recently published second edition of Das Kapital. The father of natural selection responded: Dear Sir:I thank you for the honour which you have done me by sending me your great work on Capital; & I heartily wish that I was more worthy to receive it, by understanding more of the deep and important subject of political Economy. Though our studies have been so different, I believe that we both earnestly desire the extension of Knowledge, & that this is in the long run sure to add to the happiness of Mankind.I remain, Dear Sir. Yours faithfully, Charles Darwin Marx was thrilled by the attention from the Great Man; he took it as an endorsement. But Darwin merely skimmed the beginning of the book; out of the existing 700 pages only 100 had been uncut. The gentlemanly Darwin, who had little knowledge of German, was likely merely being polite.
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