Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Discovery and conquest of the Americas Essay

The Discovery and conquest of the Americas - Essay Example Diaz’s account is written very much in hindsight, at the end of his life. As well as describing what happened , it can also be taken as a biography of Herman Cortes, the leader of the Conquistadors, appointed by the Emperor and Queen of Spain, to conquer new lands, bring back riches, but also to introduce the Christian religion to new peoples. Diaz admired Cortes, but also felt free to state his faults , Cortez having died in 1546, whereas Diaz lived until 1585. He describes his book as being a true account. He would have been aware of other accounts already written and wants to set matters straight. Naturally the conquered people had a rather different point of view, one which Leon-Portillo claims is usually ignored. For this reason he includes accounts from the Aztecs, some written only seven years after the arrival of the Spaniards, and in their own languages. He includes descriptions of terrible slaughter, presumably carried out in the names of the Spanish rulers and for the sake of the Christian religion. This wasn’t war – those celebrating a fiesta were killed from behind for instance ( Leon-Potillo, 1971, page II-321). Cortes’ letters are written to inform the queen of Spain Dona Juana, and her son, the Emperor Charles V, what was going on. They are therefore written in quite formal language, flattering the royals, more so than the other texts considered ( Cortes, 1519, the first letter , page 3), but also from the point of view that the doesn’t know exactly what they already know from other sources. He states his aim as letting them know about the new discoveries, the land, the people, the religious life and local customs. To this he adds the important rider that he also wants to explain how the royals and Spain might benefit from what has been discovered ( Cortes, 1519, pages 3 and 4). His descriptions are rather mixed in that he states that the Spaniards were well received, and then , in the same paragraph, describes how the natives had killed many Spaniards. Also in the letter he informs his sponsors of the actions of others , as of Velazquez, who , in some cases , was acting with out permission, so he is covering himself. The letters were written over a period of several years, and so each one covers a considerable period of time, looking back in some instances over two years, but they are the nearest we are likely to find in that time to topical news reporting, even if biased in its outlook. Also included by Cortes are descriptions of how natives were required to accept the Catholic religion. He justifies his actions by saying that the natives were to be seen as were the people of Jericho in the book

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