The King's Army

1558 Words7 Pages
Changes in society, such as revolutions and cultural shifts, serve to, hopefully, benefit society, while simultaneously potentially confusing the past. Such was the case for the myth of the king’s army, a result of shifting perceptions of Spaniards in the New World due to 16th and 17th century European military revolutions. Paintings, such as the 1520 “Ferdinand Magellan” housed in the Granger Collection, also indicate the pervasiveness of the myth of the king’s army. Additionally, the shift in the phrasing that was used, especially in the translations of Bernal Diaz and Hernan Cortes’ texts, emphasize that change in military perception, altering the demographic of conquistadors, including their economic and political aim. Despite the…show more content…
It is easy to imagine the title of soldier being deferred to Magellan’s men, and indeed those of other captains to travel to the New World. The strange beasts that occupy that world, such as the sirens and gryphons depicted in the painting, and those that Columbus described, such as “that one Caribbean island was inhabited by Amazons, one by cannibals, another by people with tails, and yet another by bald people,” could only have been overcome by professionally trained and disciplined men, only soldiers, not men seeking fortune as a means towards political and economic freedom, could have succeeded in that strange world. However, the painting’s romanticized depiction was inaccurate, obscuring the realities of the men who traveled to the Americas to match the military revolutions and popular perceptions of Spanish imperialism and power. This depiction of the Spaniards as soldiers continued into modern translations of such works as Hernan Cortes’ Letters from Mexico and Bernal Diaz’s The Conquest of New Spain. Despite Restall arguing that the original, untranslated works of Cortes and Diaz did not refer to the Spaniards as soldiers, the use of the word “soldier” made prominent appearances in the translations of those texts, fundamentally altering the meaning and role of the Spaniards. And when the above-mentioned fleet was ready Your Royal Highnesses’ captain Fernando Cortes left the island of Fernandina with ten
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