Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Major Results of the Conquest of Mexico

The century+ old Aztec Empire was completely destroyed in less than two years by the Spanish under Cortez.

The Aztec Empire was replaced by the new Spanish Empire. Mexico became New Spain and much of the rest of the Americas came under Spanish rule. Mexico would not gain its independence until the 1820's and the last Spanish colonies in the New World (Cuba and Porto Rico)would not be lost until 1898.

The beautiful works of art that Aztecs made of gold became a lure to the conquistadors who lusted for wealth.

For more than two centuries, the Spanish would take tons of gold from their new colonies. This wealth would pay for wars, palaces and all forms of pleasures,
enriching the coffers of the Europeans and funding more colonial conquests.

The great engineering works of the Aztecs and the beautiful city of Tenochtitlan were smashed and replaced by European structures.

The ruins of the Temple Mayor, once almost 200 feet high, stand mute testimony to the destruction of the Aztec culture.

The religion of blood sacrifice and multiple gods died as had so many of its victims-seeped in blood.

Catholic priests and missionaries converted the peoples of the new Spanish Empire. The Roman Catholic religion replaced the gods of old.

War, slavery, maltreatment and most deadly of all-diseases of the "Old World" for which the peoples of the Western Hemisphere had no immunities, decimated the populations of the new colonies. With the loss of 90% of the work force new sources of labor would be needed.

Slaves from Africa were seen as the best choice for much needed labor in the "New World." Africans were inexpensive and coming from tropical climates were thought to be less susceptible to the fevers and diseases that were deadly to the Europeans ( yellow fever being the most feared). For the next three centuries, tens of millions of slaves would be taken to the Americas as more and more colonies were established by the Europeans.

The conquest of the Aztecs established a pattern to follow for the European nations greedy for wealth, new lands and prestige. "Modern" European weapons, and the organization of powerful colonial powers would set out to conquer the rest of the known and unknown World. For three centuries the European empires would grow, numerous wars would be fought (culminating in the greatest war in history, World War Two), countless millions would die and the World would be changed for ever.

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