The True history of the conquest of new Spainis one of the most disturbing books you will ever read. You know exactly how it ends: the Spanish conquistadors (conquerors) loss the Aztecs and also colonise Mexico. Yet nobody rather in the book — the Aztecs and the mercenaries butchering them — to know the outcome due to the fact that it is created in chronological fashion, like a take trip diary. The writer was one of the mercenaries himself — a male named Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492–1584), that writes in the very first person.

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Brave fight

He participated in most or all of the over 100 battles and also skirmishes the took the Spanish force, numbering only a few hundred, come the capital and led to your ultimate win over the king the the Aztecs, Montezuma. The Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, a guy in his 30s, was able to prevail purely because of technology: the Aztecs dealt with with arrows, darts, slings and daggers do of obsidian, a type of stone. Lock wore padded cotton as protection.

The Spaniards brought guns, cannon, crossbows and also swords made of steel. They likewise had over a dozen horses, unknown in the new world and introduced come America by Cortés in 1519. On top, Cortés and also his men knew armed forces drill and also how to keep formation. The Aztecs had no endure of modern battle.

As a result, although they to be brave — Díaz states so — they can not prevent the tiny band of Spanish soldiers from slowly but surely do their means to Mexico City (then dubbed Tenochtitlan) after an expedition that went on over an ext than 600 km and took nine months.

At the finish of it, they compelled their method into the palace and held the king hostage for months while enjoy it his hospitality. Montezuma was eliminated on June 29, 1520, supposedly by his own world who to be angered and ashamed that the humiliation the their nation had been put through.

Díaz was writing a couple of decades after ~ the fighting started with the target to correct what had been written about the expedition prior to him. Previous functions by Spanish writers had actually been critical of the conquistadors’ brutality. Díaz writes the Cortés (whom Díaz admired) and also his men did what they had actually to do.

Díaz was in his 20s as soon as he went on the expedition and wrote the book five years later, once he remained in his 70s. Yet he likely kept notes due to the fact that the details he provides are rather vivid. The the ruler of the Aztecs, Díaz tells us:

“The good Montezuma was around 40 year old, of great height, well-proportioned, spare and also slight, and not very dark, despite of the usual Indian complexion. The did not wear his hair long but just over his ears, and he had a brief black beard, well-shaped and also thin. His confront was rather long and also cheerful, he had actually fine eyes, and also in his appearance and also manner might express geniality or, when necessary, a significant composure. He was an extremely neat and also clean, and also took a bathtub every afternoon. That had many women together his mistresses, the daughters that chieftains, however two legit wives that were Caciques in their own right, and only several of his servants knew of it.” unequal others, Montezuma to be “quite totally free from sodomy” (one wonders just how Díaz knew that).

Held captive

One of the factors why the Spaniards to be able to distance themselves from their actions was that the Aztecs practised human being sacrifice. Díaz describes the scene: “There were some smoking braziers of your incense, i beg your pardon they speak to copal, in which they were burning the mind of three Indians who they had sacrificed that day, and also all the walls of the shrine to be so splashed and caked through blood the they and also the floor also were black. Indeed, the totality place stank abominably… the wall surfaces of this shrine additionally were so caked v blood and the floor therefore bathed in it that the stench was worse than that of any slaughterhouse in Spain. Castle had available that idol five hearts native the day’s sacrifices.”

Díaz is no a scholar, merely an infantryman, and gives us no understanding into why the Aztecs walk what lock did. He just reports what that sees. Over there is web page after web page of information that puts united state at the centre of the action and holds united state captive together we every — the conquistadors, the Aztecs, Montezuma and us, the reader — head to that inevitable and also unjust end.

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Aakar Patel is a columnist and also translator that Urdu and Gujarati non-fiction works.