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Mexico City, June 20, 1995
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Women Filmmakers in Mexico




The Conquest of Mexico

by Peter Rashkin
Photos by Robb Curtis Rossetti and Peter Rashkin

Conquest? Is that the right word? The activists gathered on the Zócalo to celebrate Cuauthemoc's birthday and appeal for the rights of indigenous people like the term "invasion"...The Invasion of Mexico! A friend of mine says "holocaust" is the term to use, the only one that adequately expresses the evil perpetrated on native Americans by European colonists. Sometimes I think it should be called the First Mexican Revolution, because without the enthusiastic participation of Totonacan, Tlaxcalan and other Indian allies, who had just cause to oppose the ruling Aztecs, Cortés could never have taken over the great Mexican empire, and world history would have been different.

In the end, I stay with "conquest." That's the term that Bernal Díaz, a conquistador who wrote about it many years later, and William H. Prescott, a US historian who wrote a great account of the conquest in 1843, both used. And it's as good a term as any for the great cataclysmic meeting of two high civilizations that played itself out in Mexico in 1519-21.

In February 1994, we set out to follow the route of the conquistadors.

Table of Contents

NOTE: Quotes from Díaz and Cortés are from the following sources:
The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Díaz del Castillo. Translated by J. M. Cohen. Penguin Books, 1963.
Letters from Mexico, Hernán Cortés. Translated by Anthony Pagden. Yale University Press, 1986

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  • PowerPoint Presentation

    by Peter Rashkin, Herschel Sarnoff and Dana Bagdasarian

    Standards-based classroom ready resource for teachers. Easy to use in several formats, including teacher-directed slide shows with an LCD or large screen monitor, overheads, photocopied handouts, or in a computer lab setting.

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    Copyright 2005 Peter Rashkin. All rights reserved.