European Expansion


European Expansion Essay, Research Paper

Matthew Polley

West and the World

Professor Morgan

October 5,1999

European Expansion

Bernal Diaz del Castillo accompanied Captain Hernan Cortez in his march on Tenichitilan (Mexico City) in 1519, resulting in the surrender of this Aztec capital in 1521. Castillo contends that he will give us the honest account of what happened and not to give a bias opinion of what happened. We read three different sections from his book. The first is his trip to the Caribbean, the second is his encounter in Cholula, and the third is the aftermath of the fall of Tenochtitlan. In theses sections we are trying to find the underlying themes, what the role of the conquerors was, and finally, what events does Castillo seem to refute.

Since Castillo tried to give a pure account so it is hard to say that there are hidden controversies. The only hidden text that I could find was that of misconception intentionally given by the Indians of peace. They only presented the troop with peace so they could get the troop to follow them into an ambush. The trend seems to follow in the next section, were they the troop is greeted very hospitably by the men of importance from Cholula. While in the care of the Cholula they were striped of almost all food and resources. Cortes tried repeatedly to negotiate with the Caciques who had turned against them. Cortes told them that he was needed to talk to Montezuma who was the leader.

The whole point of these journeys was to spread Christianity. Throughout the different times Cortes would say that God would prevent any harm that would come to the men. This was a tactic to give confidence to the men who doubted him. If God was on their side than no one could defeat them. At the end of the last section the men were mad at Cortes because they thought that he was keeping all the money for himself. Castillo seemed to have respect for Cortes, for he was a great warrior leader, and he never gave a bad opinion or comment toward Cortes.

I thought that Castillo gave a good account. In comparison to the letter written by Columbus, Castillo?s story seemed to have less, or at least less obvious, hidden agendas. Castillo letter was not trying to persuade anyone to give him more money or supplies but he was trying to write a story from past years and tell the truth the best he could.

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