Bernal Diaz del Castillo - The Conquest of New Spain, 1632
Bernal Diaz del Castillo, born in Spain in 1492, came to the new world at age 22, seeking fortune. After several years, he joined Hernando Cortes' expedition to Mexico. Diaz participated in the major events of the Conquest. Afterwards, when he read biased and inaccurate accounts of the Conquest, he decided to write his own eyewitness account. It took thirty years to write, and was sent to the king of Spain in 1575. However, it was not published until 1632 as The True History of the Conquest of Spain. In the chapters listed below, Diaz describes what he and other Spaniards first saw when they arrived in Mexico.
Please read the following excerpts from Castillo's manuscript:
When students are finished reading, they should answer any or all of the following questions.
Do not hesitate to ask your own questions, or even to question or comment on something one of your classmates may post. The only things to remember are to avoid text-like phrasing, and to remain polite.
- How did Mexico compare to European society, according to Diaz? What cultural aspects stood out to him as he first encountered this New World civilization?
- In what ways was Montezuma different from other Mexicans, according to Diaz? Did these appear as bizarre or conventional to Diaz?
- To what extent did Mexico differ from what Diaz expected to find? What might have shaped his expectations and, in turn, his sense of wonder?
- How reliable is the resource, based on who wrote it, and when it was written? What biases are present?
Use the following enrichment resources when reading through Chapter 1, to help develop a more complete understanding of the topics.
European vs. Native American Technology
Cortes defeats the Aztecs