Son of the Tree of the Night of Sorrows

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#1

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of Son of the Tree of the Night of Sorrows in Dolores Hidalgo Cuna de la Independencia Nacional, Mexico. Ask questions or share travel tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this place, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

#2
  1. Hernan Cortes didn’t kill Montezuma–his own subjects did (they were mad at HIM.) 2) Cortes wanted to have his king, Spanish King Charles V, SEE this city, so excellently constructed was it. 3) These Aztec/Mechica were INVADING BULLIES who were kidnapping and murdering locals for their “religion.” The Spanish were welcomed by the actual natives as someone who might free them from these murderous, bullying invaders. They did.
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#4

Danielpauldavis thank-you for your comment but we will have to respectfully agree to disagree on one point. The vast majority of historians today believe that Moctezuma was killed by the conquistadors and NOT as the official Spanish narrative claims by his own people.

The chronicles of conquistadors such as Bernal Diaz del Castillo are extremely biased accounts that are not to be trusted. This is because : 1. They were written many decades after the conquest 2. They appeared in the aftermath of the controversial ecclesiastical debates of Valladoid over the morality of the conquest 3. These were undisguised attempts to curry favour and gain political / economic favours from the King of Spain. In other words , it was within their interests to portray themselves in a good and noble light , as the saying goes “History is written by the victors”.

In regards to the Aztecs being “bullies” , I don’t know if I would use that term for them. They were after all a civilization , not an individual or handful of people. But they were definitely a warlike culture who conquered other indigenous civilizations and tribes and subjugated them to imperial rule and what would now be considered atrocities , yes, agreed. The Spanish were supported by enemies of the Aztecs such as the Tlaxcalans , Tarascans , Mixteca and Zapoteca , yes, also agreed. However, it must be remembered that these peoples also later rebelled against the rule of the Viceroyalty of Spain in the decades and centuries that followed the conquest. This strongly suggests that all was not well in post-conquest Mexico and that these peoples who had initially joined the Spanish now saw their " true colours" as yet another empire not so different in its capacity for cruelty as that of the Aztecs.

Moreover, history should always be mistrusted and warrant closer scrutiny when it is portrayed as a simple narrative of good vs evil. There are no “good” parties in war and conquest , only those who profit from dehumanising , killing and enslaving another people and those who are killed or enslaved. Even in light of the Aztec empires bloodthirsty excesses the atrocities and barbarity of the Spanish conquest of the Americas which were far more extensive and prolonged (and committed in the name or guise of their own religion)cannot nor should not be glossed over

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#5

Evidently there were abuses, such as forced and poorly paid rotational labor of some indigenous people for haciendas or urban constructions, but for example two daughters of Moctezuma married Spaniards and were granted noble titles and an income that the Mexican state paid until the 1930s. This was justified because Moctezuma had asked Cortés to take care of his children. His descendants still exist with noble titles in Spain and Mexico. In addition, many of the Spanish troops in Mexico were reconverted Aztec warriors, and participated in explorations and conquests in the north and in Guatemala, where many settled. On the other hand, Mexico City was the richest city in the empire for a long period of time, and the Mexicans were surprised when they visited Madrid because of its relative smallness. I think that the history of the viceroyalty of New Spain was too complex to reduce it to a tale of good and bad, as you said, what the politicians have done for the purposes of their propaganda interests.

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#6

Thank you for your comment vbarcia06,

I agree mostly with what you’ve said and like all colonial history it is indeed complicated, but I think it is widely acknowledged that Moctezuma was murdered. I am not a scholar but I have personally never read about ex Aztec soldiers accompanying the expeditions to Guatemala. However, I do know though that the last emperor of the Mexica, Cuahtemoc, and several members of the indigenous nobility were kept as prisoners on that expedition , horrifically tortured in order to try to find any hidden gold and then executed on trumped up charges of plotting against the Spanish.

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#7

Allow me to commend you, Monsieur Mictlan, for your succinctly excellent exegesis of an inherently complex subject, the events leading to and following La Conquista. A meta-ethical approach goes a long way in considering the relative merits of ripping the beating hearts from captives to prevent the sun going dark versus the public ritual burning alive hundreds of captives as an auto de fé. Such considerations inevitably arose when the High Renaissance met the Stone Age.

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#8

Thank you Tex Arcana for your kind words and sorry for my late reply

History is so incredibly complex and dark that sometimes I feel it is extremely hard to draw moral conclusions from it. But I think in the case of Meso-America its exceptionally hard because one brutal foreign empire replaced an existing brutal empire that happened to be indigenous.

I think there are a lot of people who sort of gloss over the Aztec civilizations atrocities because of their later destruction by the conquistadors and because of an idealized concept of “the noble savage” and Nationalistic reasons. On the other side you have those who glorify the Spanish conquest for religious and political reasons.