April 21, 2019
Latest News
Science & Technology

Historian: Was Cortes Indians' puppet who sold himself as conquistador?

 Photograph taken April 2, 2019, in Mexico City showing Mexican historian Federico Navarrete during an interview with EFE, in which he discussed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his conquest of Mexico in the mid-1500s. EFE-EPA/Jose Mendez

Photograph taken April 2, 2019, in Mexico City showing Mexican historian Federico Navarrete during an interview with EFE, in which he discussed Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his conquest of Mexico in the mid-1500s. EFE-EPA/Jose Mendez

By Zoilo Carrillo.

 

Mexico City, Apr 14 (efe-epa).- History records that Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes knew how to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity history placed before him to conquer Mexico.

Or was he just a tool used by the indigenous Indian population to win their own local war?

However it may be, although he became an iconic historical figure, Cortes ended his days sad and frustrated.

Mexican historian Federico Navarrete told EFE in an interview of several instances in the Spaniard's life that lend credence to the idea that he was an almost bipolar personality.

On the one hand, he was a violent egomaniac who exalted his image as a conquistador in the eyes of the Spanish Crown, but on the other, he was a man with an acute sense of loyalty and honor whose lust for power was never quenched.

When Cortes (1485-1547) arrived in Mexican territory in 1519 he encountered a scenario in which various indigenous peoples were dominated by Aztec Emperor Moctezuma.

It was then that - helped by the natives - the Spanish commander forged different alliances with local peoples such as the Tlaxcaltecas and the Texcocanos, along with many others.

However, Navarrete - who holds a doctorate in Mesoamerican Studies from Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM) - said that "The conquest of Mexico was made by the indigenous peoples themselves using Cortes for their own ends."

But the narrative that has come down through history is significantly different, he said, and that is the one that is contained in the letters Cortes sent to the Spanish Crown telling of the conquest.

These letters, which became one of the first "best sellers" of the epoch - having been published shortly afterwards in Europe - were an instrument Cortes used to craft an image of himself to the world at large: that of a triumphant Christian conquerer "who imposed himself on savage peoples," the greatest conquistador of all.

"He creates a very exalted vision of himself, he presents all his acts in a positive light, he omits all the outrages and crimes he committed, which were numerous," Navarrete said.

In his letters, he leaves to the side the fundamental role played by the Indians in his life.

"He distanced himself from them" in his missives, Navarrete said, although "deep down inside, he knew that their fates were inextricably linked."

That was the case, in particular, with Malinche, or Doña Marina, as the Spaniards dubbed her.

This beautiful Indian woman - between 15 and 17 years of age - was multilingual and had a prodigious gift for geopolitical analysis, and she was given to Cortes as a gift shortly after he set foot in Mexico.

She was his translator, his lover and the woman who took him by the hand after his victory over Moctezuma in Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City stands today.

Navarrete said that the Indians in 1519-1521 used the designation Malinche to refer to the couple made up of Cortes and Marina.

"If we look at the codices painted by the Indians after the conquest, Malinche, the woman, always appears larger than Cortes, in a more prominent role," indicating that this woman was more important for the pre-Hispanic peoples than the Spanish commander.

He, meanwhile, was known for his violence and seemed to be capable of anything because of his megalomaniac dream of becoming "the great feudal lord of New Spain."

He ordered the hands of 40 indigenous ambassadors cut off and even staged a massacre on the town of Cholula.

The Spanish Crown brought him to trial for the massacre, an unprecedented move at that time.

The massacre sowed terror among the local peoples, since it was a milestone that broke the rules of war that had reigned throughout the area at that time.

It also "broke the rules of European war" and inaugurated a new type of warfare, Navarrete said.

It was "total war, the type of warfare that characterized the European colonial effort in the Americas and then in Asia and Africa," the historian said, although he added that Cortes always honored all the pacts he made.

However, once the conquest was over, disappointment was not far behind, and Spain's King Carlos I refused to allow the conquistadors to exercise political power and control over the new dominions.

As a result, Cortes's final years were sad, full of frustration and travel to the Spanish court "to demand something that he himself knew he would never obtain," and he ended his days "lamenting the ingratitude of the world."

News history
Mexican muralist chronicles the coming of the conquistadors

Veracruz, Mexico, Apr 19 (epa-efe).- Melchor Peredo Garcia has created six murals to represent the "historical and sociological phenomenon" of the arrival...

Mexican hamlet marks 500 years since Cortes came ashore

La Antigua, Mexico, Apr 18 (efe-epa).- In legends, in ruins and in the natural exuberance of the ceiba trees, the legacy of Hernan Cortes lives on in this...

Giving Streets: app combats poverty through cashless donations

London, Apr 18 (efe.-epa).- As the number of people in the UK carrying small change is dropping daily, the most vulnerable in society who rely on...

China launches Martian simulator for budding space explorers

By Víctor Escribano

People in China pay for praises from online flattery groups

By Victor Escribano

Historian: Was Cortes Indians' puppet who sold himself as conquistador?

By Zoilo Carrillo.

Bolivian lake island aims to become sanctuary for giant frogs

Yolanda Salazar

Jose Luis Gomez: Black holes are most bizarre objects

By Noemí G. Gómez

Burkina Faso split over genetically-modified mosquitoes to combat malaria

By Maria Rodriguez

Radiation: a key technique for the preservation of art and culture

By Antonio Sánchez Solís

SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy rocket, deploys Arabsat-6A

Miami, USA, Apr 11 (efe-epa).- The powerful Falcon Heavy rocket, by US company SpaceX, took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday and successfully...

First ever photo of supermassive black hole revealed

Brussels, Apr 10 (efe-epa).- The first-ever image of a supermassive black hole loitering at the heart of the Milky Way was unveiled on Wednesday in Brussels...

Japanese robot manufacturer: automation will not destroy jobs

Kocevje (Slovenia), Apr 8 (efe-epa).- A Japanese robot manufacturer that has launched its first factory in Europe said Monday that the use of artificial...

Pakistani popcorn seller awaits permission to fly his $600 homemade airplane (FEATURE)

Islamabad, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- A popcorn seller in Pakistan is waiting for the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to allow him to fly his homemade airplane...

Japanese spacecraft blasts crater in remote asteroid to collect samples

Tokyo, Apr 5 (efe-epa).- The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 on Friday completed an operation of blowing a crater in a remote asteroid with a view to...

Israeli lunar lander enters the moon's orbit

Jerusalem, Apr 4 (efe-epa).- Israel's lunar lander has successfully entered the Moon's orbit on Thursday and is set to land on the surface within a week.

Chilean experts assess climate change impacts on Antarctic marine systems

Santiago, Apr 4 (efe-epa).- Chilean scientists have installed pH meters in the waters surrounding Antarctica to assess the extent to which increased levels...

A bird? A plane? No, it's a pilotless flying taxi!

By Luis Lidón

A haven of peace and care for Panama's sloths

By Maria M. Mur

Robots, AI and helicopter car on show at technology fair in Germany

Hannover, Germany, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Cutting-edge technology, artificial intelligence and the latest robots were on display Monday in Hannover at one of the...

Project to measure sea temperatures from pole to pole reaches Antarctica

Santiago, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- Chilean scientists have added Antarctica to the Pole to Pole project, which seeks to compile data on the temperature variations...

Astronaut: NASA cancelled 1st two-woman spacewalk on her recommendation

Washington, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- US astronaut Anne McClain, one of the two women who had been scheduled to make the first two-woman spacewalk, said Wednesday...

Brazil successfully completes record Amazonian manatee reintroduction program

By Carlos A. Moreno

Safety, preventing job loss priorities for drone makers, Mexican expert says

Guadalajara, Mexico, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- With drones expected to be completely autonomous in a few years, the priorities for designers of unmanned aerial...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.