Throughout history, there are different sides to every story while dealing with conquest, exploration and the relations of people from disparate cultures.
One of the most notable is that of the Spaniards and Aztecs. By reading the literature of the varying perspectives, contrasting the viewpoints of the two can provide an understanding of what set these two cultures apart, and eventually led to the fall of the Aztec empire. There is a distinguishable difference between the conventional narratives of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and Miguel Leon Portilla’sThe Broken Spears. Firstly, concerning the more conventional narratives, there is a belief that the Aztecs were much less civilized than the Spaniards. Many narratives suggest that the Spaniards provided the new people of the land they came across with technological advances and a more developed sense of political and economic structure. In some ways, it may be true that the Spaniards brought political and economic structure, but it was more so a different type of political and economical structure, not necessarily a more developed, or “better” one.
The Broken Spears provides facts of the Aztecs flourishing empire. It depicts their vast empire which consisted of writing, literature, education, branches of government, merchants and Tenochtitlan’s majestic architecture. As expressed in the introduction ofThe Broken Spears:? The population of Tenochtitlan at the time of the Conquest has been the subject of considerable controversy, but beyond question it must have amounted at least to a quarter of a million. The activities were many and colorful. Fiestas, sacrifices and other rituals were celebrated in honor of the gods. Teachers and students met in variouscalmecac andtelpuchcalli , the pre-Hispanic centers of education. The coming and going of merchant canoes and the constant bustle in the Tlateloco market impressed the Spaniards so much that they compared the city to an enormous anthill(Portilla, xxxvii). The description continues to provide the details of the well constructed military, inter-state commerce, and intelligent usage of transportation throughout the streams, streets and canals.
Also, one of the most common narratives concerning the conquest is based on the idea that economically, it provided a plentiful abundance of food, land and other riches for Spain. This indeed is true, but the suffrage that it caused the Aztecs is utterly disturbing. When the Aztecs presented gifts to the Spaniards, according toThe Broken Spears, “The Spaniards immediately stripped the