The Conquest of New Spain

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Bernal Diaz – from “The Conquest of New Spain”

  1. What aspects of the city of Tenochtitlan seem to impress the conquistadors most? Why?

  1. What conclusions does the impression of the city have on his feelings about the Aztecs? How do they compare (in his mind) to Spanish civilization?

  1. What do you think Montezuma and Cortez are thinking/feeling during their initial meeting?

  1. What causes the initial meeting to turn tense? Who is to blame? Why?

  1. Could this encounter possibly have ended in a more peaceful encounter? How?

  1. Does Diaz seem to attempt to understand the Mexican point of view? Why or why not?

from “The Broken Spears”: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico

  1. According to this account, how does Montezuma respond to Cortez?

  1. How does Montezuma’s reaction to the Spaniards compare with that of other Aztecs?

  1. How reliable is this account in describing Montezuma’s thoughts, motives, and behavior? Why?

  1. In what ways (specifically or generically) does the Aztec account differ from the Spanish account?

  1. Do you think these differences are a matter of perspective or do you think the authors actually disagree on the course of events? Why?

  1. How do you decide which account to believe?

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