Effects Of Spanish Conquest

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The Aztec and Mesoamerican indigenous societies were some of the most well developed pre-industrial civilizations with populations that averaged out approximately a twenty million prior to Spanish conquest (Marr and Kiracoffe 2000). These civilizations were also onlookers to one of the worst demographic tragedies in history seeing population losses of almost ninety percent, down to one million occupants a century after conquest (Marr and Kiracoffe 2000). These demographic tragedies were in the form of epidemics of both New and Old World origin and as a result of and major contributing factors to the success of the Spanish Conquest of the region. As the Spaniards infiltrated the region, introducing new cultural, political and socioeconomic…show more content…
Both were warlike, mercantile people, avaricious and quick to resort to force. The Aztecs even managed to defeat the Spaniards on what is now considered La Noche Triste, when three quarters of the twelve hundred Europeans in Mexico City died; this is considered the greatest indigenous victory in all the conquest wars to this day (Wright 1992:43). The one factor that the Aztecs did not have to their advantage was biology, specifically disease, and this would prove to be their downfall. Aztecs were vulnerable to the diseases the Spaniards brought over from the Old World as well as being particularly susceptible to a new strain of disease neither the Spaniards nor the Aztecs had seen before; Cocoliztli. Cocoliztli was Nahuatl for great pestilence (Acuna-Soto, Romero, Maguire 2000). Over the course of three centuries, these diseases continued to ravage the indigenous population, at the end of which only a small percentage remained. These diseases severely weakened the indigenous population’s ability to resist the ongoing Spanish influence and dominance and made it increasingly difficult to form the large groups of warriors that might more effectively have resisted the Spaniards. One has to count the spread of “new-to-the-Americas” disease as a major factor in the Spanish success. Perhaps the most striking quality of these epidemics was their selectivity for the indigenous population. Spanish priests and religious members worked in opening new
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