Spanish Conquest (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: European dominance in the American hemisphere. Result: Spanish victory and decline of Central and South American Indian civilizations.
Spanish conquerors of the New World employed principles of organization perfected during the 770-year Reconquest of Spain by the Moors. Conquistadors organized themselves as compañas (companies), whose members shared the hardships and the profits of their military expeditions. Each compaña was headed by a captain who had royal authorization for conquest, making him a partner of the crown, which received one-fifth of all spoils (quinto). The remainder was divided among the compaña. The captain, who raised private financing to buy ships, supplies, and arms (crossbows, arquebuses, and cannons), received a fixed share. A peon (common soldier) received one share of the remainder; a caballero (horseman) received two—the second for his horse.
Only a century old at conquest, the Aztec Empire was very different from that of the Incas. The Aztecs, who conquered south central Mexico, regarded war as desirable. They allowed autonomy to so-called “enemies of the house” who participated in scheduled conflicts known as Flower Wars, in which Aztec warriors, armed with obsidian-bladed clubs, bows, darts, and slings and arrayed in the regalia of the military orders of the Eagle, Jaguar,...
(The entire section is 1025 words.)
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