Evangeline doesn’t like Cortés very much.
With a trip to
The main thing I remember about Hernando Cortés is that he was the conquistador who toppled Aztec civilization and led to the Spanish colonization of
Perhaps Evangeline is more sensitive to genocide than I was in sixth grade, or perhaps history has changed a bit, but she was upset to discover what he did. Though I’m sure she shares his disgust at human sacrifice, she was repulsed at the way he and his army carried off Aztec art to turn it into gold. She was appalled at his willingness to taking human life to save his skin, even the lives of his allies. And she was aghast at what he did to the Aztec civilization.
During the reign of Montezuma, Aztec civilization had reached a peak higher than anything in the
So they were a prosperous people, at the top of their game, and then Cortés and his crew came in like a flight of miniature dragons, took the gold, smashed the Aztec gods and forced the people to convert to Christianity, allied themselves with the Tlaxacans, another warlike tribe the Aztecs had never conquered, and decimated Tenochtitlan.
And, of course, the Spaniards unwittingly introduced the smallpox virus to the Aztecs, which probably killed far more people than the big guns Cortés had brought.
Evangeline’s a sensitive and imaginative soul. I rather imagine she was able to picture quite well the fear, and the despair, that went through the Aztec people as their civilization came crashing down. I was going to let her read my copy of a book that presents the whole story in Aztec terms, but I think I’m going to pass on that after all. She needs a happier story instead.