Two Cheers for the Conquistadors

The death-obsessed and inward-looking Aztec civilisation sowed the seeds of its own destruction, argues Tim Stanley.

Conquistadors and their Tlaxcalan allies enter Tenochtitlan

The story of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, as it is popularly told, is all about imperialist oppression. In Latin America the destruction of the Aztec empire has become a mix of passion play and tourist promo. The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has even claimed to be a direct descendant of the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma II, in order to draw parallels between US and Spanish imperialism. But the contemporary politicisation of the history of the Conquest expunges what I believe to be its most important message: that moral decadence leads inexorably to societal collapse.

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