Omparison between Spanish and Indigenous Sources in the Historical Study of the Conquest of the Aztec Empire
1. The essay should be based on the reading of Five Letters of CortA©s to the Emperor by Hernando Cortes and The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico by Leon-Portilla, and detailed class discussion of both sources and additional secondary sources. Complement your analysis by reading the article and chapter by Camilla Townsend (Burying the White God: New Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico) and (Chapter 3: One of Us People Here) (I will attach these two articles).
2. In your comparative essay you must provide evidence on the most important differences and similarities between both accounts of the conquest (Use as many sources as possible when describing differences and similarities). The most direct way of doing this is by choosing four or five incidents or events of the conquest narrated by both the Spanish and Amerindian sources. Can you tell which version is historically the most accurate?
Please use the following events (the other two events can be chosen on your own):
1. Massacre in Main Temple (shown in Chapter 9 in the broken spears and any other sources).
2. The Spaniards March on Tlaxcala and Cholula, specifically the different arguments about why Cholula was attacked. (Florentine Codex vs. Camargo and any information Cortes presented about this event).
3. Establish the main perspectives of the different authors of these primary or secondary sources. According to your evaluation, how biased or reliable are each of these sources and why?
4. Provide a title for your paper based on the main emphasis of your argument and the events and their parallel narratives you have chosen to analyze.
5. What is your own conclusion based on these comparisons? Can you explain the conquest of the Aztec empire using the evidence and narratives of one or the other type of source? Can you establish that both of these sources complement each other?