Marlborough College Summer School

If Columbus Had Not Called

What would have happened if the native Americans had been left to their own devices? Brian Fagan probes the rise and fall of Aztec and Mayan society and proffers some intriguing observations.

Fundación de México – Tenochtitlán by Roberto Cueva del Río.
Fundación de México – Tenochtitlán by Roberto Cueva del Río.

'These great towns... and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision... Indeed some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream'. Conquistador Bernal Diaz wrote his description of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, when an old man in his eighties. So vivid were the memories left by his first glimpse of Aztec civilisation that it is as if he had gazed at the gleaming city only yesterday. Diaz relished an old man's memories, then added: 'Today all that I then saw overthrown and destroyed'.

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