Essay about Broken Spears the Spanish Defeat of the Aztec Empire

1440 Words Mar 13th, 2006 6 Pages
The Broken Spears is a book written by Miguel Leon-Portilla that gives accounts of the fall of the Aztec Empire to the Spanish in the early 16th century. The book is much different from others written about the defeat of the empire because it was written from the vantage point of the Aztecs rather then the Spanish. Portilla describes in-depth many different reasons why the Spanish were successful in the defeat of such a strong Empire.
Portilla starts out by giving a thorough background of the culture and religious beliefs. The reader can draw many theories on how this carried over to the Aztecs way of thinking and fighting. In addition to the religion and culture, Portilla shows the technology advantages the Spanish had over the
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As mentioned before, the Spaniards where fighting to kill, so on all fronts they where better equipped. They came in on well-built ships, equipped with cannons. They carried iron swords and shields rather than spears and wooden shields of the Aztecs. Although the Spanish clearly had technological advances over the Aztecs, one big reason for the success of the Spanish was nothing they had done. It had to do with the King Motecuhzoma's coward ness and lack of leadership. Motechuhzoma was extremely ignorant in his ways of thinking. He believed in "Omens" that had surfaced 10 years before the Spanish arrived, and looked at them as signs. The first bad omen was described as a "flaming ear of corn, or a fiery signal, or the blaze of daybreak; it seemed to bleed fire, drop by drop, like a wound in the sky" (4). Another bad omen that they observed was a "Fire stream through the sky while the sun was still shining" (5). They would observe many natural phenomenons like these, but instead of accepting them as nature, he (along with his people) believed that it was a sign from the gods. At this time, ships had never been seen, and when the Spanish arrived, it was first thought to be another omen as the first spotting reported that "towers or small mountains where floating on waves in the sea" (13). It was later confirmed that they were actually the ships of Spanish coming to the new land. The first mistake of

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