Do you agree or disagree with the statement that the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, which led to the creation of Mexico, "was neither a triumph nor a defeat"?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is possible to argue this question either way.  I will present an argument for each side and you can decide which argument you find more compelling.

On the one hand, you can certainly argue that the Spanish won and the Indians lost when the Spanish conquered the Aztecs.  The Spanish ended up taking power and becoming the elite of Mexican society.  The government leaders were Spanish.  The Spanish religion was the religion of the country.  The gold and silver from the mines of Mexico went to make Spain rich. The Aztec government and religion were destroyed.  In that sense, it is easy to say that it was a victory for the Spanish and a defeat for the Aztecs.

On the other hand, we can say that the Spanish did not truly win and the Aztecs did not truly lose.  This is because the culture and the people of Mexico essentially became a mixture of Spanish and native cultures.  While Catholicism became the national religion, it was influenced by native beliefs. The Day of the Dead is celebrated and the brown-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe is the major saint of Mexico. While the Spanish took control of the government, the society as a whole became a mix, with mestizos becoming dominant.  Not long after the conquest, the whole society had become mixed, meaning that the Spanish did not truly win and the Indians did not truly lose.  Which of these arguments is more compelling to you?

pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One can make the argument that the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish was neither a triumph nor a defeat.  Spaniards coming from the Old World intermarried with native people in Mexico creating the mestizo race; while colonial Mexico had a caste system which valued one based on how much Spanish blood one had, that is not the case now, as most Mexicans can proudly claim a mixed heritage.  Mexico now enjoys a distinct culture which is neither Aztec nor Spanish.  

On one hand, millions of native Mexicans died at the hands of the conquistadors, through war and disease.  Spanish government and religious officials destroyed a lot of Aztec religious symbols and forced the natives to work on mission farms.  In this respect, the conquest of the Aztecs was a major victory for the Spanish.  On the other hand, Spain now had an overseas colony to rule, and the Spanish treasure ships made easy targets for pirates of all the other European nations.  By 1830, Spain would cease to be a major colonial power.  In the long term, the Spanish empire was too much of a burden for the country, and the conquest of Mexico could appear as a defeat for the Spanish if examined this way.

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