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