The Conquest of Mexico: Consequences

Figure 1.--Diego Rivera's murals in the Palacio Nacional are some of Mexico's great works of art. There is much historical truth in his work. Here we see Rivera's view of the consequences of the Conquest, the enslavement and brutalization of the Narive American people. But like all of Rivera's work it is simplistic. He ignores for example the brutality of the Aztec's who the Spanish replaced. Also he emphasizes the centrality of gold and money in the Conquest by placeing the exchange of money at the center of the mural. This was also a critism of modern capitalism, reflecting Rivera's Communist thought. Notice the groteaque green figure at the center and in the upper-left corner. These figures appear in several other of his murals. I am not sure who or what this depicts. Rivera painted this mural in 1951, a time when considerable information was availble about the brutality and lawlessness of Soviet Communism. Stalin''s terror had even reached Mexicio with the killing of Trotsky (1940). Rivera in his work, however, just ignores all this. Note the blue eyed child being carried by the Native American woman, also at the center of the mural. The child is the only figure making eye contact wirh the viewer. (Put your cursor on the image for an enlarged view.) This was Rivera's depiction of the birth of the modern Mexico's Mestizo people. This is clearly a work of artistic genius, but the economic, historical, and social accuracy is a very different matter.

The story of the Conquest is one of the great historical epics of all time. And as it occurred in modern times, it is well documented at least from the Spanish side. It is an account of courage and audacity mingled with avarice, treachery, looting, and cruelty. It is an almost unbelievable story. Had it not be so well documented, it might have thought to be something like the legendary tales told by Homer. The Spanish Conquest stands in sharp contrast to that of English North America where colonization was largely based on the desire for religious expression and land to farm. This dichotomy significantly marked the sharply varied historical and economic development of North and Latin America. The Conquest and subsequent Spanish colonial rule completely destroyed the Aztec and other Native American civilizations. The Native Americans were essentially enslaved and a system akin to medieval serfdom developed beginning with Ecomienda. While this is what is often stressed by historians, the impact of the European diseases inadvertently introduced by the Europeans had a much more powerful impact than Conquistadir brutality. Native American populations throughout the Americas were desimated. The fall of Tenochititlan and the Aztec Empire was more due to ravages of disease than Spanish military victories. The Aztec pyramids in Tenochititlan were demolished. Over the foundation of the Templo Mayor on what is now known as the Mexico City Zocalo, a great cathedral was built to symbolize the victory of Chritianity. There in modern Mexico the excellent boys' choir of the Metropolitan Cathedral participates in the religious services, boys of both Spanish and Native American blood. The conquest also had a major impact on Europe. Spain became the major European power and used that power in an effort to smash the growing Protestannt threat to Catholocism. The gold and silver bullion that flowed into Spain had a major impact on European economies, but ironically in the long run did not benefit Spain. They gold and silver also attracted another generation of Spanish Conquistadores who began not only the conquest of South America, but also the creation of a Mestizo culture.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to Main conquest of Mexico page]
[Return to Main Aztec page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 12:52 AM 1/29/2013
Last updated: 12:52 AM 1/29/2013