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Hernando Cortes and the New World

            Hernando Cortes ventured to Cozumel and Yucatan in the early 1500's to conquer the natives, rob them of their riches, convert them to Christianity, and ultimately to siege the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Cortes and his soldiers, called "conquistadores," were not paid for their attainment of the New World, they were "military entrepreneurs willing to risk their lives for a share in expected plunder and slaves" (Shi and Tindall, America p. 28). .
             When Cortes first landed on Cozumel and Yucatan, his initial goal was to assess the natives of the region, their resources, and the layout of the land. Once Cortes gathered this information, he reported it to the Spanish Emperor, assisting in Spain's ultimate goal to conquer the powerful Aztec Empire. In his report to the Emperor, Cortes described many of the Aztecs brutal and barbaric sacrificial rituals of people, including women and children. Cortes did taint the truth, by reporting that Aztecs disemboweled, and tore out the hearts of children and adults while still alive; though this barbaric practice was used, it was used for those committing acts of treason. The Aztecs believed in the cycle of life, and that the Gods controlled nature. One of the most important of the deities, was "Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun, who was engaged in a constant struggle to save the world from the forces of destructionto bolster his strength, the Aztecs dutifully provided.the vital energy of life-whose only source was human blood"(Tindall and Shi, America, p. 30). .
             The message Cortes was trying to send to the Emperor was that he felt by influencing the natives to convert to Catholicism, that Spain would free the Aztecs from their evil practices and save their souls. Spain's invasion of the New World was marked by violence, terror and assault. Spain's idea of diplomacy was to announce that they owned the natives and their land, and by reading them a doctrine called "the requirimiento," that stated "that if the natives resisted, they could be subjugated by force and enslaved" (Shi and Mayer, For the Record p.

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