Spanish Domination

In chapter three Iberians in America of The Atlantic World by Douglas R. Egerton et al., the authors try to explain the encounters between the people of the Iberian peninsula and the native inhabitants of the newly discovered (in the view of the European explorers) American continent. While the chapter touches on the the fact that the Native Americans were a people of rich and advanced culture that consisted of an elaborate religious system and social hierarchy (Egerton, 77.) along with the Portuguese establishing a network of trade that eventually lead to the colonization of Brazil (Egerton, 90.), chapter three focuses primarily on the Spanish exploration and eventual conquest of the native peoples living in we now call the Caribbean, Mexico, and Peru. Even though Spanish attributed their discoveries and conquests for the greater glory of God and the kingdom of Spain, elements of miscommunication and the Spanish’s self-serving quest for power and prestige enslaved and dominated the native peoples of America.
At first contact the Taino people perceived Columbus and his crew as strange people willing to set up a trading relationship (Egerton, 82.). On the other hand, Columbus considered the Taino as “naive and child-like,” who could be easily ruled. This misunderstanding and tipped the balance of power towards him and his crew. As a result, Columbus, threatened or enslaved the Taino to extract the riches from the newly acquired provinces of the Spanish crown. Wary of the Spanish demands on their land and themselves, the Taino tried resist the Spanish. Although they were somewhat successful, Columbus and the Spanish responded with mass killings and scorched earth tactics (Egerton, 87.).
Cortez’s lust for gold and power provided the inspiration for his conquest of the Mesoamerican empire of the Mexica. The Mexica were a highly evolved society steeped in tradition, religion, and social hierarchy. When Cortez and his garrison first encountered the Mexica, he presumed that he and his men were being given tribute of gold as a supreme being which as far from the truth. Even though Moctezuma saw the Spanish conquistadors are visiting dignitaries, this misunderstanding and Cortez’s greed proved disastrous for Moctezuma and his people. As a result, Cortez and his men raided Motcezuma’s treasure and massacred the Mexica during their celebration of Huitzilopotchli (Egerton, 99.). Even though the Mexica were successful in driving out the Spanish out of Tenochtitlan during La Noche Triste, Cortez returned to lay siege to the beautiful Mexica capitol of Tenochtitlan (Egerton, 101.).
Thinking in hindsight, could have these miscommunications and misunderstanding between the Spanish and the Native Americans been resolved with subjugation and or bloodshed? Maybe if the Taino and the Mexica encountered someone who was not suffering from gold fever with conquest on their minds. Unfortunately Columbus’ opinion of the Taino as “naive and child-like” reinforced his perception that they were somewhat lesser as human beings than he was. As for Cortez and his men, the misunderstanding of the celebration of Huitzilopotchli sparked fear in the the hearts and minds of his men. As a result men who fear what they do not understand tend to react violently.

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