Monday, June 30, 2008

Today In History: La Noche Triste

On this date in 1520, Spanish soldiers, hardened veterans of wars in Italy and the colonization of the Caribbean, under the rogue Capitan General Hernán Cortés began an incredible and bloody fighting retreat through the streets and canals of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. First-hand accounts of the survivors of this 16th Century Black Hawk Down make for gripping reading.


Anonymous said...

"this 16th century Black Hawk Down."

I like that. Pretty damn accurate, too.

Anonymous said...

Except that the Spanish didn't run away squealing like scalded cats. They stuck it out.

Incidentally, I am not suggesting our troops ran squealing - it was our courageous leadership, as exemplified by the draft dodging Mister Military Loather.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the Spanish qualify as any kind of good guys in this deal, and Aztecs would be as welcome as cannibals in modern culture. Heck of a fight though, and you do explore the New World with the people you had, not the ones you wish you had.

I like your historical updates a lot. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

anon, I'm definitely giving the Spaniards a pass on this one. Of all vanished cultures, the Aztecs rate right at the top of ones that deserved to vanish.

Of course, in the long run the Spaniards proved themselves absolutely inept at managing an empire, largely due to abysmal economic ignorance. All the resources of the New World, and they obsessed on stupid gold, to the point where they stockpiled so much they horribly devalued it throughout the world.

The British, on the other hand, wisely decided that trade was where wealth was generated. Note the former colonies today, and which ones have the best track record since independence? Ex-British ones. For every basket case such as Zimbabwe you can point to a half dozen success stories such as India, Singapore, Canada, or, ummm... lessee... oh yeah, us.

Brian J. said...

Just to illustrate Steve's point, as part of the worship of Tlaloc, the Aztec rain god, they'd sacrifice children because this Tlaloc was supposed to have little Tlalocs attending him, sort of like Mini-Mes but not as cute as Verne Troyer.

But to make sure that Tlaloc knew what the Aztecs wanted, they would make the children cry when they were all painted up for sacrifice. The priests did this by pulling out the children's fingernails and throwing them, the fingernails, into the lake to feed some aquatic god or another. Only after the children were shedding tears, signifying the rain the Aztecs and their dominated tribes needed, would the priests kill the children and probably wear their skins.

Yeah, the Aztecs are definitely the best argument against cultural relativism and for cultural chauvinism that I can think of. They needed to be put down.