European Expansion


     Bernal Diaz del Castillo accompanied Captain Hernan Cortez in his march on

Tenichitilan (Mexico City) in 1519, resulting in the surrender of this Aztec
capital in 1521. Castillo contends that he will give us the honest account of
what happened and not to give a bias opinion of what happened. We read three
different sections from his book. The first is his trip to the Caribbean, the
second is his encounter in Cholula, and the third is the aftermath of the fall
of Tenochtitlan. In theses sections we are trying to find the underlying themes,
what the role of the conquerors was, and finally, what events does Castillo seem
to refute. Since Castillo tried to give a pure account so it is hard to say that
there are hidden controversies. The only hidden text that I could find was that
of misconception intentionally given by the Indians of peace. They only
presented the troop with peace so they could get the troop to follow them into
an ambush. The trend seems to follow in the next section, were they the troop is
greeted very hospitably by the men of importance from Cholula. While in the care
of the Cholula they were striped of almost all food and resources. Cortes tried
repeatedly to negotiate with the Caciques who had turned against them. Cortes
told them that he was needed to talk to Montezuma who was the leader. The whole
point of these journeys was to spread Christianity. Throughout the different
times Cortes would say that God would prevent any harm that would come to the
men. This was a tactic to give confidence to the men who doubted him. If God was
on their side than no one could defeat them. At the end of the last section the
men were mad at Cortes because they thought that he was keeping all the money
for himself. Castillo seemed to have respect for Cortes, for he was a great
warrior leader, and he never gave a bad opinion or comment toward Cortes. I
thought that Castillo gave a good account. In comparison to the letter written
by Columbus, Castillo’s story seemed to have less, or at least less obvious,
hidden agendas. Castillo letter was not trying to persuade anyone to give him
more money or supplies but he was trying to write a story from past years and
tell the truth the best he could.