The Year is 1534, and…

…a great deal of Spanish conquistadores are trying to cut up Mexico into personal spheres of wealth and property.  I am reading Robert S. Chamberlain’s 1966 book The Conquest and Colonization of Yucatan, 1517-1550, and so far what I have gleaned from it has been great.  Check out this passage:

“Attempted conquest with small numbers and insufficient support for expeditions […] were the result of overconfidence on the part of [the would-be conquistadores…] They had a total misconception of the character of many of the Maya.  [Two of the conquistadores] had seen a few Spaniards destroy Montezuma’s imposing empire and bring it under the yoke.  They were firmly convinced of the invincibility of their arms in face of any odds, and, underestimating the determination and military capacity of the Maya, they believed they could easily be subjugated.

Furthermore, until it was too late, [the conquistadores] failed to understand that many caciques gave fealty only as a temporary expedient, and that they intended to appeal to arms at the first opportunity […] Many mistakes could have been avoided had the [conquistadores] accurately appraised the character of the people with whom he had to deal.”

Now, since the writing of Chamberlain’s book, new statistics and revision of the historical account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire (referred to by specialists as the Triple Alliance rather than the Aztec Empire) has fleshed out his writings.  Instead of a handful of Spaniards that brought down the Triple Alliance, it was a combination of Spanish forces and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of indigenous soldiers from rival states that crushed the Triple Alliance.  The vast majority of the indigenous soldiers were commanded by indigenous military officers. Continue reading