Rueda,Carlos

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Colonialism in Mexico by the Spanish brought about great social changes for the indigenous cultures. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire took place from February 1519-August 1521, as the Aztec Empire was subordinated and annexed to the Spanish empire. Spanish Conqueror Hernan Cortez led his forces throughout current day Mexico and forcefully brought about the largest cultural change in the area that is still in effect to this day. The clash of cultures and ideologies eventually went to the side of the Spanish as this significant shift of power had various complex social drives behind it.

Two main driving social forces of the conquistadores were ideology and economy. As one of Cortez’s men stated “to serve God, and to get rich as all men want to do” was the purpose of the conquest. First of all, the conquistadores brought along Christianity, which was being used as a cultural weapon back in Europe in the holy wars against the Muslims.  Thus, they came at the Aztecs with full force looking to coerce them into their faith. When Cortez landed in Cozumel, early in the conquest his main objective was to gain converts to Christianity. The Aztec religion was looked down upon greatly by the Spanish and they believed they were “saving” these indigenous peoples by introducing them to their perspective. The forceful nature of the conversion was drastic as they believed saving souls was greater than saving lives.

The second driving force was the economic fervor of the conquistadores. More specifically gold was highly regarded and sought for in the eyes of the Spanish and they stole large amounts of gold from the Aztecs in order to display around Spain, promoting colonization. Such sense of materialism was present in the Spanish that they exploited the Aztecs for their resources in order to gain the economic prosperity their society called for.

The consequences of such changes led to the deaths of many Aztecs, due to not only religious conflict and greed, but also disease. Their culture was inhumanely wiped out as the Spanish assimilated themselves as the rulers of these new lands. The long term effects of these social forces can be seen today, as these areas are predominantly Christian and they speak the Spanish language.

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