The Conquest Of New Spain Corts came not to the New World to conquer by force, but by manipulation. Bernal Daz del Castillo, in the “Conquest of New Spain,” describes how Corts and his soldiers manipulated the Aztec people and their king Montezuma from the time they traveled from Iztapalaopa to the time when Montezuma took Corts to the top of the great Cue and showed him the whole of Mexico and its countryside, and the three causeways which led into Mexico. Castillo’s purpose for recording the mission was to keep an account of the wealth of Montezuma and Mexico, the traditions, and the economic potential that could benefit Corts’ upcoming conquest. However, through these recordings, we are able to see and understand Corts’ strategy in making Mexico “New Spain.” He came as a wolf in a sheep’s clothing and manipulated Montezuma through his apparent innocence. In the first part of the document, Corts and his men spend their time at Montezuma’s palaces.
Seeing the extravagant wealth of the Aztec king, Corts begins his seduction (all the while knowing that Montezuma believes that he may be the fulfillment of a prophecy). He embraced Montezuma with the greatest reverence and ” .. told him that now his heart rejoiced at having seen such a great Prince, and that he took it as a great honour that he had come in person to meet him and had frequently shown him such favor” (World History: Castillo, 247). Corts and his men are brought into the house of Montezuma and all of his riches are now at their disposal to observe and share in. Montezuma tells Corts: “Malinche you and your brethren are in your own house .. ” (World History: Castillo, 247).
The wealth of Montezuma is magnificent. Each soldier is given two gold necklaces. He had hundreds, and probably thousands, of servants. He did not where the same article of clothing for at least four days and bathed every day. The cooks prepared over 1,300 plates of food for Montezuma and the guard.
There was a storerooms filled with an amount of gold (bars and artistic/sacred objects) and arms that even the king of Spain would have been jealous of. Corts observed all of this and knew that he was in favor in the eyes of Montezuma because his lodgings were in a sacred palace. Corts played the part of the innocent and humble admirer and did nothing but compliment Montezuma in order to gain more information on the wealth of the Aztec king. Corts makes sure that he fulfills all of Montezuma’s expectations and as a result, Montezuma says: ” .. and for this reason we take it for certain that you are those whom our ancestors predicted would come from the direction of the sunrise. As for your great King, I feel that I am indebted to him, and I will give him of what I possess” (World History: Castillo, 248). Corts is not only gaining control of Montezuma, but his wealth as well. In order to gain control of the whole of New Spain, Corts must manipulate the hierarchal traditions of the Aztec people as well.
As in wealth, Castillo makes no lapse of detail here as well. He documents the way Montezuma his treated and revered by those who are under him. “Not one of these chieftains dared even to think of looking him in the face, but kept their eyes lowered with great reverence .. ” (World History: Castillo, 247). Montezuma was seen as being semi-divine.
This was very important for Corts, because if he could control Montezuma then it would make it that much easier to control the Indians and eventually take complete control himself. Montezuma’s reverence is taken to a great extent. Carried on a platform and never sets foot upon the bare ground. The meal practices are the best demonstration of his reverence. No one is allowed to look at him and it is considered to a great privilege by the elder chieftains to have Montezuma give them some of his food.
However, they must stand to eat whatever they are given. None of the common servants eat before Montezuma does. Montezuma had whatever he wished at his disposal, from sexual intercourse with the daughters of the chieftains to dancers and jesters. Whatever he wished would be done without delay. If Corts controlled the will of the king, then he could easily control the will of the people and the conquest of New Spain would be a smooth transition of power. Lastly, Corts must examine the economic potential that Spain would be able to profit from.
Castillo not only effectively records all that the market place has to offer, but the way in which Corts was able to manipulate Montezuma so that he could leave the palace. Corts says, ” .. that it would be well to go to the great Plaza and see the great Temple of Huichilobos, and that he wished to consult the Great Montezuma and have his approval” (World History: Castillo, 251). Corts asks the approval of Montezuma to go see a sacred temple, which just happens to be located in market plaza. Corts is manipulating Montezuma very well to discover as much information as he can.
Castillo describes that every kind of merchandise that can be found in New Spain can be found here. It is shown to be very ordered and efficient just as it is back in Spain. It is interesting to note that Castillo documents the buying and selling of slaves. He likens it to the slave trade in Portugal. He also makes note of keys items such as paper (“Amal”), merchandise inspectors, textiles, building materials, energy (firewood), and food (meat, fruit, vegetables and food that is already prepared).
Castillo also makes note of canoes for sale filled with human remains used to make a preservative. Throughout the document, Castillo makes it a point in each area that he covers to demonstrate in a particular way in which the Indians are barbaric so that the reader may infer that they are in need of Spanish civility, morality, and government, and Christianity. Castillo also describes the ability of the Aztecs in such things as engineering and architecture in describing the courts located at the great Cue and before at Montezuma’s palace where he describing how “everything is made in masonry and well cemented.” There is great economic potential to be found here. We are left with Castillo symbolically describing the events at the great Cue. Montezuma sent priests to help Corts ascend the 114 stairs to the top but Corts would not allow them to even come near him. At the top Montezuma tells Corts that he and his men must be very tired from ascending the great Cue.
Corts promptly and firmly replies: ” .. that he and his companions were never tired by anything” (World History: Castillo, 252). This symbolizes and affirms Corts intentions that we were only able to infer before. Castillo says that they ” .. stood so high that from it [the temple] one could see over everything very well, and we saw the three causeways which led into Mexico” (World History: Castillo, 252).
Corts is observing the future and destiny that awaits him and the great city of Mexico. History Essays.