Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spain's New World

A historical diversion . . .

Back on October 12, I posted a short piece in honor of Christopher Columbus. His voyages in search of a shorter route to the East led to the discover of a New World in the West.

The heroism of Columbus and his fellow adventurers gave way eventually to the barbarism of conquest. After Spain became convinced that Columbus had discovered a "New World," it soon engaged in a conquest and enslavement of the native peoples. Occupation of the islands of the Caribbean was soon followed by the overrun of powerful native empires in Mexico and Peru.

The Spanish hardly enjoyed a monopoly on violence. The empires of the Aztecs and Incas had long dominated neighboring tribes, partly through conquest. Both empires, like many Mesoamerican cultures, engaged in human sacrifices to their gods. Usually the subject tribes provided the victims. The Aztecs were particularly gruesome. After killing their victim, their priests skinned the victim and wore that skin for the rest of the ritual. That ritual included extraction of the heart and cannibalism.  Hernando Cortez in Mexico and Francisco Pizarro in Peru enforced submission of the natives to their Christian king and to their own version of the sacrificial religion. 

Spain secured a large empire in the New World. Gold, tobacco, and sugar gradually filled Spain's treasury and helped make it the most formidable power in Europe. 

Spain's experience moved England in its own expansion into the New World.

Below an audio of a song by Neil Young, a good representative of the "Third Worldism" of the 1970s that occasionally reappears. He makes up his own history and romances the brutality and savagery of the Aztecs.

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