Spanish Colonization of the New World

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SpanishColonization of the New World

The motivation behind Spanish colonization of the New World was twotiered. One motivation was derived from Spanish need for trade andfortunes from the New World. The other motivation was to spread theCatholic faith through converting the natives of the New World. TheSpanish King sent Hernando Cortes to find the Aztecs who lived infertile lands located in a valley 2,000 meters above sea level. Thefertility of their land was derived from the waters that flowed fromthe mountains surrounding the area. This water enabled the Aztecs togrow crops such as chili peppers, beans, cotton, and maize. TheSpanish were also seeking for gold, which was highly valued at thetime. In relation to the spread of the Spanish religion, the Aztecswere considered to be very backward in terms of religion. Theypracticed a traditional religion that worshipped the sun. Theybelieved that when the sun set in the evening, it needed rejuvenationthrough human sacrifice so that it could rise the next morning (Knopp24).

Cortes arrival wasmarked by intimidation against the Aztecs. One of the factors ofintimidation was portraying the traditional religion of the Aztecs asbarbaric while presenting the Catholic religion as being superior.This religious intimidation resulted with the Aztecs believing thatthe Spanish conquistadors were holy men. Cortes also arrived withweapons such as crossbows, swords, and cannons. The Spanish broughthorses, animals that the Aztecs had never seen before. When theSpaniards arrived in Aztec, the portrayal of their superiorityendeared them to the Aztecs who welcomed them to their land. TheAztecs believed that the Spaniards were there to spread theirreligion but soon it was clear that the Spaniards were onlyinterested in gold. After this realization, the Aztecs resisted theSpanish conquistadors the superior weaponry played a critical rolein ensuring that the Spaniards registered a fast victory over thenatives (Knopp 25).

There are variousfactors that led to the quick victory of the Spanish conquistadorsover the natives. One of the factors was that the Spaniards hadsuperior weaponry, which included cannons, swords, and crossbows.These were weapons that were not used by the Aztecs. One of the mostnotable factors was the alliances that were forged by the Spaniards.The traditional Aztec religion involved human sacrifices. However,they did not sacrifice their own people but would sacrifice thepeople from the neighboring tribes. The Aztecs were known to raidtheir neighbors and sacrifice victims and in other cases, they woulddemand sacrificial victims as tribute to their kingdom. When theAztecs resisted the Spaniards, many tribes such as the Tlaxcala werewilling to support the Spaniards through offering provisions andwarriors. This support was derived from the fact that the Aztecs’neighbor profoundly hated Aztecs for their treatment of theirneighbors (Bartolo 49).

Another notablefactor that led to a quick victory for the Spanish conquistadors wasdisease. The arrival of the Spaniards was marked with theintroduction of some European diseases that the Aztecs did not havesufficient immune against the European diseases. For instance, one ofthe Spaniards who accompanied Cortes was infected with the smallpoxvirus. When he physically came into contact with the Aztecs, heinfected a population that had no resistance or immunity to thedeadly virus. The smallpox infection decimated the population andresulted with more than a quarter of the population in Tenochtitlanwiped out. The emperor was not spared either and this had the effectof disrupting the command chain (Knopp 27).

The reaction of thenatives was influenced by both the positive and negative effects ofSpanish colonialism. The natives became dependent on the Spaniardssince the empire had already been destroyed and Cortes had assumedleadership over the Aztecs. They resigned their fate to theSpaniards. They were not capable of resistance since they had beenweakened by European diseases most notable being typhus and smallpox.A smallpox epidemic wiped over 75% of the Aztec population and theruling Spanish government prohibited the education of traditionalAztec culture. However, there were also positive effects which led tothe Aztecs improving their lifestyles. For instance, the practice ofhuman sacrifice was abolished. They also enjoyed modernization oftheir society which was critical in ensuring that they were equippedwith the tools and means of enhancing their lifestyles and wellbeing(Jacob and Altieri 76).

Moctezuma II, the supreme leader of the Aztecs during the Spanishinvasion was one of the best and capable leaders in the region.However, some shortsightedness from his perspective of the world ledto one of the strongest tribes in Native America to be defeated byapproximately 1,000 Spaniards. As a leader, Moctezuma should haveseparated his religious superstition and interest of the state.Religious superstition clouded Moctezuma’s judgment of theSpaniards and he was too late in realizing that the Spaniards hadother motives that were against the interest of the state. As aNative American, the best approach was to ensure that the Spaniardswere removed through any means necessary before they could learn theweaknesses of the empire. Another important action would have torefrain from welcoming the Spaniards at their initial arrival whichwould have preserved the Aztec empire. However, the natives continuedto treat the Spaniards as gods who were superior to them which endedwith devastating consequences for the Aztecs.Add proper conclusion ormake separate parts from the paragraphs


Bartolo, Luke. &quotTeaching option 13: Spain and the Aztec empireas the History extension case study.&quot Teaching History50.2 (2016): 49.

Jacob, Frank, and Riccardo Altieri. &quotMissionaries orCrusaders?-The Self-Reception of the Spanish Conquistadors in the16th and 17th Century.&quot (2015).

Knopp, Lukas. &quotOf Blood and Fire: A Comparative Analysis ofAztec and Colonial Spanish Rituals of Violence.&quot The Killick1.1 (2015): 22-31.