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Lessons from The Broken Spears by Miguel Leon Portilla

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 589
  • Category: Aztec

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            Every page of history has its own lesson. History accounts disclose several facets of one empire and what led to its downfall. An example of this is the native Aztec empire of Mexico which was depicted in the book written by Miguel Leon-Portilla entitled “The Broken Spears.” Published in 2007, the book unveiled several factors beside the Spaniards’ power and authority that imparted and triggered the weakening of the Aztecs. An emotional human and personal perspective told from the point of view of the conquered (the Aztecs), this book draws understanding and sympathy from its readers of the terror and fear that an external conquest could induce.

            A critical analysis of the book reveals that the Spanish were totally to be blamed for the total devastation of the Aztec regime. Aside from the fact that the Spaniards had a lot of plus factors over the Aztecs, the conquerors also exploited the natives and took advantage of the Aztec’s primitive culture in order to gain victory. As a result, the Spaniards gained total control over the Aztec people.

The Aztecs’ innocence, which the Spaniard took advantage of, was the primary reason for the Spaniard’s victory. Initially, the Aztecs perceived and treated the Spaniards as gods due to their physical appearance. The Spaniard’s different skin, hair, and eye color fascinated the Aztecs and made them welcome the conquerors with gifts and festivities. The ritual ceremony by the Aztecs where they honor their “Spanish gods” with human sacrifice was treated as a disgusting act by the Spaniards. This triggered the Spaniards’ revulsion against the Aztecs. They were also blinded by their greed after seeing the Aztec’s rich resources. The greed of the Spanish people fueled their desire to conquer the Aztecs.

            Aside from the fact that the Spaniards were more powerful and were better equipped as well as more advanced than the Aztecs, the native’s leader named Montecuhzoma was perceived to be a weakling leader. He was viewed as more of a coward and more concerned and occupied with his personal welfare and safety than those of his people and kingdom so he immediately surrendered and gave up his empire because of the conquerors’ pressure. The greedy Spaniards, on the other hand, were believed to have no satisfaction. Despite being glorified by the Aztecs, they manipulated the surrounding enemy tribes to fight and take over the Aztec lands. The massacre of men, women, and children by the Spaniards angered the Aztecs. Thus, they started to fight back. It was just unfortunate that the Aztecs were easily destroyed by their own weaknesses and the negative traits that the Spanish have imparted in them. This inhumane action is an indication of how too much greed and power can cause people to neglect human life.

            Cultural differences presented in the book were an igniting factor for the Spaniards to satisfy their greed and desire and for the Aztecs to be easily conquered by a more powerful force. The stark contrast of different cultures, as manifested in the primitive way of life of the Aztecs which conflicted with the brutal and savage methods of Spaniards, is one vital proof of the history’s ironic turn of events. In the end, the correlation of superstitions, poor or ill-conceived leadership, and technological disadvantages led to the downfall of such a naive kingdom as the Aztec Empire.

Work Cited

Leon-Portilla, Miguel. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico.            Beacon Press, 2007.

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