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By Hammond Innes

This spell binding examine which examines the effect of the Spaniards upon the Aztec and Inca worlds is ruled by means of the personalities concerned, particularly Cortes and Montezuma. Their war of words within the Aztec lake-city of Tenochtitlan is a relocating drama of human clash revealing the quandary and the enigma of the Indians. it's a tale of battles and voyages, packed with unusual episodes ? Cortes burning his ships, Pizarro drawing a line along with his sword, announcing "Gentlemen, this line represents toil, starvation, thirst, weariness, sickness" and bold them to move it, and Atahualpa nursing his wound within the sizzling springs of Cajamarca and observing, together with his military, the tiny band of Spanish adventurers descending the fairway slopes of the Andes.

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Past the wilderness they reached the road of low hills in the direction of which they'd been marching all day. the following, in a move, they discovered a small idol-tower ‘like a roadside chapel’ piled around with cord-wood, all well stacked – ‘a thousand cartloads’ Cortés says and referred to as it Puerto de l. a. Leña. a few leagues past the go ‘the land back grew to become negative and sterile’. Cortés describes the folks, too, as very terrible. yet they have been forthcoming the Apulco river and soon afterwards they reached a wide city the place the homes, stone-built and lime-washed, gleamed so white within the solar that it reminded them of southern Spain. Bernal Díaz says that they known as it Castilblanco and that its Indian identify was once Xocotlán. it truly is now known as Zautla, and Fray Bartolomé, who had performed his top to unfold the religion within the cities and villages of the Totonac Indians, wouldn't even let a pass to be erected, discouraged via the proof of sacrifices on a wide scale. there have been 13 teocalli, each one with its attendant pile of skulls, and Bernal Díaz anticipated their quantity at a couple of hundred thousand. whilst Cortés noted the emperor he served, Olintetl, the executive cacique, expressed astonishment: ‘Is there someone who's now not a slave or vassal of Moctezuma? ’ He was once talkative, and from him Cortés learnt greatly approximately Mexico-Tenochtitlan: the Aztec capital was once equipped at the waters of an excellent lake, its homes developed in order that they might be switched over into fortresses, all roads into town have been guarded through drawbridges, and Moctezuma, lord of the area, sacrificed twenty thousand males a yr and had thirty vassal chieftains each one in a position to placing one hundred thousand warriors into the sector. Even making an allowance for exaggeration, it was once a terrifying prospect. the single encouraging information was once that there has been a very good shop of gold and silver within the capital. What Cortés wanted now used to be allies, and because the Zempoalans guaranteed him that the Tlaxcalans, whose territory lay forward, have been neighbors of theirs and enemies of Moctezuma, he despatched 4 of them upfront as envoys. At this element Bernal Díaz seems to be to confuse Jalacingo, a city twenty miles again within the hills to the east, with Ixtacamaxtitlan. the single clarification would appear to be that Cortés was once safeguarding himself opposed to treachery, and while offering his males with higher quarters, by means of billeting a few of them within the neighbouring cities – Olintetl by myself is said to have had twenty thousand vassals, which means that the inhabitants during this district used to be enormous. Cortés himself stayed 4 or 5 days at Xocotlán after which moved upstream to Ixtacamaxtitlan. The cacique right here were one in all who had already visited him with presents – ‘a few golden collars of little weight or worth and 7 or 8 slaves’. He discreetly refrains from telling his Emperor that the slaves have been, actually, women. the most castle zone of Ixtacamaxtitlan used to be ‘perched on a lofty ridge’ with homes for 5 thousand humans surrounded through ‘a wall, barbican and ditch’.

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