The Contribution of Indians to the Spanish Conquest of Aztec
Human wellbeing is a complex concept that is solely anchored on the aspect of identity. Identity contributes significantly to the holistic wellbeing of humanity because of its ability to define the roots as well as general welfare of humans. Historical evidence ascertains that humans can go to great lengths in a bid to define as well as redefine their identity. Since historical times, societies have taken immense measures to renew their selves in various ways. Practically, they have changed their ways, abandoned old traditions that are considered disabling, abandoned their old beliefs and cultures and sought social acceptance from new groups as well as communities. Notably, a significant percentage of relative efforts have been geared at improving their self image in line with the emergent societal changes. In some cases, the respective individuals have been treated with discontent by their idyllic groups. Increasingly, these are exposed to social profiling and have to struggle with the negative stereotypes and perceptions that the new groups accord them.
Regardless of the negative perceptions that such individuals are accorded, they insist on abandoning their culture and remain disloyal to their communities and groups. Through time, civilizations have undergone various transformations to attain their current status. Indeed, populations have undergone a series of cultural, religious and political changes. The respective transformations have in most instances compelled them to adapt new ways of life in order to cope in the complex and dynamic environment. A classic example of such as transformation pertains to the conquest of Mexico or the Aztec community by the Spanish. This endeavor occurred in two faces and was influenced by wide ranging social, cultural, political and economic factors. Although the Spanish used their sophisticated weapons to conquer the Aztec population, the betrayal of the Aztecs by the Indians due to their preference of the European culture equally contributed to the success of the Spanish.
Historical evidence indicates that successful conquest of the empire of Aztec can be greatly attributed to the help that was extended to them by the Indian allies. The conquest was pioneered by Hernando Cortez and a band of conquistadors from Spain. This army consisted of approximately five hundred men who worked together with the Indian allies to overthrow an empire that was considered to be not only powerful and wealthy but also sophisticated. Naturally, the Aztecs are documented to have been peace loving and very passive people. The success of the Spaniards to penetrate and conquer them can be attributed to a combination of various factors including treachery, ferocity, good luck and diplomacy. They also had superb leadership skills that were resented by their leader Cortez. Most importantly, they relied heavily on the help of Indian locals that were ready to guide them accordingly.
Historical evidence ascertains that the Indians existed harmonically with their Aztec counterparts. However, they were influenced by the European culture that seemed to be more sophisticated to betray their Aztec counterparts. In this regard, the introduction of catholic religion amongst the Aztecs and Indians marked the beginning of initiating cultural change. This religion considered the local religious beliefs and practices to be inferior and discouraged the local populations from pursuing them. The Spanish used the church platform to instill certain new values in the local populations.
Spaniards were presented as being superior and knowledgeable of different religious values as compared to the locals. With this, the local Indians were gradually influence into changing their religious practices and adopting Catholicism. This culminated in the change of attitudes too. Catholicism was held in high regard and was considered the most ideal religion. The Indians were the first to forego their local beliefs and practices and assume the new religion. They then spread the religion to certain factions of the Aztecs. Increasingly, the change in religious practice and values paved way for easy conquest of the Aztecs by the Spanish. This can be attributed to the fact that with the change in religion and value system, the Aztecs were easily convinced by the Spanish to accept the latter. Thus through religion, the Indians betrayed the Aztecs by helping them to have easy access to the region and attain acceptance by the locals.
Basically, the European culture was perceived to be superior to that of the locals. The European themselves were considered to be gods because of their White skin. In his god story, Restall indicates that the Indian allies contributed significantly to the invention of the respective myth. Initially, the myth was promoted by the Franciscan monks and sought to ensure that the Spanish arrival was peaceful and providential. It was then spread through the church to the Indians that had been converted to Catholicism. In this respect, religion played an important role in ensuring that the society maintains a positive attitude towards the Spaniards. As aforementioned, the fact that this religion was partly promoted by the Indians is a clear indication of betrayal by the latter.
Historical evidence indicates that catholic values and virtues were also promoted through the European schools. These had been established to provide education to the locals. The European educators favored the Indian population and after winning their favor, they employed them in spreading their values and virtues to the rest of the populations. In this regard, it is worth appreciating that education is vital in changing the perceptions of the populations in different ways. In particular, it makes the learners to change their perceptions and general attitudes towards common practices as well as beliefs. Using this platform, the Indians succeeded in helping the Europeans to change the attitudes of the Aztecs towards common traditional values and cultural practices. At this point, it is worth appreciating that common cultural value and virtues are instrumental in cushioning the society against emergent social problems that undermine their holistic wellbeing. Thus by placing great emphasis on the assumption of the European values and virtues, the Indians played an active role in enhancing the acceptance of the Spanish by the local Aztec populations. Undoubtedly, this had far reaching implications on the strength of the Aztec populations.
During the very first phase of the conquest, Cortez used his tactics and charisma to establish contact with the Aztec coastal tribes. His men succeeded to coexist peacefully with the Spaniards for a couple of months. However, the presence of the Spaniard men was not welcome by the Aztec priests that also considered them to be intruders. In a bid to ward off danger, the Spaniards decided to massacre certain Aztec priests. This had negative implications as the locals rose fiercely and drove them out of the city. This halted the gradual encroachment of the invaders who then decided to use military and diplomatic measures. Using a mixture of deceit and with the help of the Indians, Cortez succeeded in persuading a significant percentage of the most dominant tribes of the Aztecs to support him. This culminated in a siege that led to the conquest of the Tenochtitlan city.
The second phase of the conquest first approach that was made by Cortez lasted for one year from 1519 to 1520. Upon arrival in Yucatan Peninsula, he was given twenty slave women to help him. One of them was conversant with the Aztec language and was named Malinche. In fact, his success at this point in time was made possible by the fact that he had a translator who would help him to communicate well with the natives. One of the Aztec legends cite that Malinche, who was well versed with the Mayan, Nahuatl and Spanish language played an active role in making translations for the conquistadors. He was given to Cortez in 1519 and became his intimate companion. She used this position to translate for him as well as issue her personal instructions accordingly. Certainly, it can not be disputed that she played an important role in easing communication between the natives and the Spaniards. Using her talents, social position and knowledge of various languages, she successfully convinced the Indian masses to join the Spaniards and destroy the Aztec nation that considered itself to be great.
Furthermore, Malinche was a key informant as well as advisor of Cortez. Besides helping him with translation, she enabled him to communicate easily with various tribes that he encountered. Also, she advised him accordingly and offered him useful insights in tribal alliances, local gossip, and native customs that characterized the Aztec community. Arguably, this information was important as it enabled Cortez to make informed decisions regarding various issues. Put differently, the relative information enabled him to understand the tactics as well as general wellbeing of his enemies. It can not be disputed that such information is imperatively important in enabling one to make the right decisions as well as choices.
Although the Spaniards made efforts to make a peaceful return to Tenochtitlan, there were met with hostility by the Aztecs. One of the most critical battles pertained to the Otumba battle that was fought a week after they had retreated from Tenochtitlan. Although most of them were wounded, they assembled and fought directly with the Aztec commanders. The Otumba battle culminated in the death of almost all Aztec generals. This accorded Cortez and his team great victory. Using this, the Indian populations that were allied to the Spaniards convinced the other local tribes to join them in order to fight the Aztecs. The Europeans at this point in time were closely associated with success and the Indian allies took this opportunity to help them to increase their allies. This greatly weakened the strength of the Aztecs who relied on the local tribes for support.
With this support, the Spaniards succeeded in conquering the Tenochtitlan city. This was also made possible by the fact that his rebels had become his important allies. The negative treatment and conditions that the Aztec officials extended to the local tribes worked at an advantage for the Spaniards. In particular, it made the local tribes to prefer working for the Spaniards. They believed that with the help of the Spaniards, they would be safely delivered form the negative treatment that they were being accorded by the Aztec officials. While the Spaniards were still restructuring themselves, the Indians helped them in different ways. Before the ultimate conquest, the Aztecs closed the roads leading to the Tlaxcalan territory that was also their base. This was in a bid to starve the Spaniards and deprive them of any supplies for sustenance.
However, the Indians made efforts and ensured that that Spaniards were provided with food and the supplies that they needed to pursue their goals and objectives. Undoubtedly, this help was a blow to the Aztecs who were in desperate need of the help of the Indians as well as that of the local tribes. Furthermore, the Indians dressed like the Spaniards and hence influenced the local populations to assume the new culture and general way of life. Increasingly, local populations preferred the religion of the Spaniards to that of the Aztecs that required them to make human sacrifices as a way of respecting the conquerors. Reportedly, the Indians used this chance to gain the support of the local populations.
In 1521, the leader of the Spaniards transferred operations from Tlaxcalan to the city of Texcuco. The Spaniards then blocked the aqueduct that was used for supplying this city with water. They also blockaded this city and prevented it from receiving external reinforcements or supplies. A fierce battle ensued especially after the Aztecs refused to surrender voluntarily and continued to engage in the fight. This culminated in the bombardment of every city and by August 1521, all the Aztec emperors had surrendered. This fierce battle marked the end of the conquest of the city of Mexico. Besides being helped by the Indians, Restall indicates that the Spaniards had superb means of communication and cutting edge technology that was represented by the Spanish steel. Coupled with political rivalries that occupied the Mexico Valley, it was unlikely for the Aztecs to win the battle. Besides the technology, the Indians marveled at the horses that the Spaniards used. This strengthened their belief that the Spaniards are indeed superior. Ultimately, it greatly influenced their decision to remain allied to the Spaniards.
In conclusion, it cannot be disputed that the help that the Indians extended to the Spaniards as a result of European cultural influence contributed significantly to the success of the Spaniards. Besides providing them with critical information about the Aztecs and advising them on the important strategies to use in approaching their enemies, the Indians spread Catholicism and encouraged local communities to assume the relative values and virtues. They held European values in high regard and believed that these were superior to those of the locals. Indians also provided the Europeans with food and supplies when these were blocked by the Aztecs. The translation services that were provided by Malinche were important in easing communication between the Spaniards and local tribes. Indians advocated for European education and used this platform to encourage locals to abandon their beliefs and practices. This greatly weakened the Aztecs and increased their vulnerability to the negative implications of social changes. Most importantly, the Indians dressed like the Spaniards and eventually learnt to communicate in Spanish. Using this, they succeeded in influencing local communities to follow suit.
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 Douglas, A, Daniel. Tactical Factors in the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs (The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research 2003), p. 34
 Meyer Michael, Sherman William and Deeds Susan. The Course of Mexican History (Oxford: University Press, 2010), p. 33
 Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 37.
 Zantwijk, Rudolph Van. The Aztec Arrangement: The Social History of Pre-Spanish Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1985), p. 44
 Azuela Mariano. The Underdogs: A Novel Of the Mexican Revolution (New York: Penguin Classics, 2008), p. 55
 Shorris Earl. The Life and Times of Mexico (USA: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), p. 69
 Joseph Gilbert and Henderson Timothy (eds). The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics (USA: Duke University Press Books, 2002), p. 81
 Hassig, Ross. Time, History, and Belief in Aztec and Colonial Mexico. (Austin, TX, USA: University of Texas Press, 2001), p. 61
Prescott, William Hickling. William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico (London ; New York : Continuum, 2009), p. 41
 Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, p. 43
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