Monday, November 11, 2019

500 Years Ago

The media has been focusing on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the day before that, Mexico marked an equally important date.  Five hundred years ago, on November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés (usually spelled Cortez in English) arrived at the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán where he was welcomed by Moctezuma (known in English as Montezuma). 

(image from the web)
Within the course of two years, Moctezuma would be dead, the Spanish would have conquered the mighty Aztec empire, and Mexico City would begin to rise from the stones of Tenochtitlán.

To commemorate the anniversary, a descendant of Moctezuma (he traces his lineage back 16 generations to a daughter of Moctezuma) embraced an Italian who is a descendent of a daughter of Cortés.  They stood on the spot, just south of Mexico City's main plaza, where their ancestors had first met.

(image taken from the web)

Cortés is today viewed by most Mexicans as the "bad guy", the man who brought to an end more than 2000 years of native civilizations.  However, modern Mexico is a blend of the indigenous and the Spanish.  As one monument in Mexico City says, the Conquest was neither a victory nor a defeat; it was the painful birth of the mestizo Mexico of today.

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