The author argues that the Spanish were completely at fault for the total destruction of the Aztec Empire. In Broken spears, the author explains how many factors other than Spanish power contributed to the downfall of the Aztecs. Not only did the Spanish have many advantages over the Aztecs, but also they also exploited them and took advantage of the cultural difference.
The main key aspects to the Spanish victory, is that the Spanish were viewed as gods at first because of their appearance, the Aztecs welcomed the Spanish with gifts and festivities, which showed the Spanish had total control of people. The Aztecs also held a ritual ceremony for the arrival of the god that included a human sacrifice, which was seen by the Spanish as a disgusting act, this trigged Spanish hatred for the Aztecs. When the Spanish saw the resources that the Aztecs had, they quickly started taking advantage of the Aztecs weaknesses. The Spanish had more power; they were better equipped than the Aztecs and more advanced.
The Aztecs leader Montecuhzoma was a weak leader, he was more of a coward, more concerned with his well being and safety than the safety of his people and kingdom so he quickly surrendered under pressure. The Spanish used surrounding enemy tribes to take over the Aztec lands, then began to massacre men, women and children. When the Aztec became angry and started to fight back, they were quickly wrecked by the diseases the Spanish brought with them such as small pox and measles. The Spanish were immune to these diseases because they were well known in Europe and they had been exposed to them for years, but the Aztecs werent so entire villages were wiped out in just few weeks which cleared the way for the Spanish to entirely conquer and destroy the Aztec empire. Leon-Portilla based the stories told in this book upon old writings of actual Aztec people who survived the Spanish massacres.
The actual authors of the stories told in this book are priests, wise men and regular people who survived the killings. These stories represent the more realistic view of what really happened during the Spanish conquest. Most of the history about the Aztec Empire was based on Spanish accounts of events, but Leon-Portilla used writings from actual survivors to illustrate the true history from the Indians point of view. The book focuses on how the Spanish slowly exploited the Aztec resources to the point where they started killing people for no reason but to exterminate them. One of the turning events during the Spanish conquest is the massacre in the main temple during the fiesta Toxcatl.
The Aztecs begged their king to hold festivities in honor of the god Huitzilopochtli. After they got permission, they very carefully prepared for festivities and sworn to do their best dancing at the festivities to show the Spanish the beauty of their rituals. The Spanish showed that they are interested to learn more about the festivities, but they were planning to murder all the celebrants. When the celebrations began, the Spanish showed up in their armors and carried weapons. Soon after, they sealed off all entrances to the palace so that no one can leave, and then they engaged in massive killing of everyone that participated. They brutally murdered every living person they could find.
This event was very important, because it triggered the anger of the Aztecs, the people no longer wanted to obey the king who advised them not to fight back, they no longer believed that the Spanish were sacred. The Aztecs were angry and wanted revenge, chaos reigned over the entire empire. From that point on, there was nothing but battles between the Spanish and the Aztecs; it also resulted in the murder of the Aztec king who was no longer useful after the massacre. This brings a logical explanation for why the Chinese refused to let Europeans into their culture. The Chinese did not commit the same mistake as the Aztecs, The Chinese strictly controlled all aspects of contact between all European encounters and Chinese people, this is the main reason why the Chinese people were not as badly exploited and exterminated as the Aztecs were. This shows that wherever European powers got involved, they cause a great deal of damage to the point of extermination to other cultures as in the case of the Aztec Empire.
Broken Spears offered detailed description of actual events during the Spanish conquests. Although it seemed to be somewhat unclear, it was highly descriptive and had a high probability of accuracy. The authors provided an excellent view of what really happened during the conquest, the information provided was highly accurate from the Indian prospective, as what they saw and experienced. I believe that this book presented a very excellent example of what happens when a European power tries to exploit another cultures, and this is not the only time that we will see this happen. There will many Aztec-Like exploitations and destruction.