Conquistador

Conquistador by Buddy Levy
Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs

This book was part of the stack of books I read in preparation for the February 2012 Cruise Devotionals. This is an amazing story, I am beginning to think like Dan Carlin - I am no longer compelled to read fiction because history is so much more exciting.

One of the most appealing aspects of this telling of the story is the non-bias of the author. It is not told from the perspective of the Spaniard/Christian worldview or from the perspective of the conquered Aztec, rather the author uses primary sources from both sides to reconstruct the things that happened.

As I have been pondering the kingdom of God, the mission of the church, and "us" being in harmony or in congruence with how God is moving through history - this story raised many questions.

  • As a minister of reconciliation or witness to the resurrected Christ, what could Cortes have done other than manipulate and slaughter the indigenous people?
  • What part of the Aztec civilization was "axios"? What could have been kept? And what absolutely needed to be stopped?
  • What is the destiny of the innocents that were killed in warfare by these agents of Christ?
  • If Christ is reconciling all things, how does this story and others fit into the grand conclusion?
Stories like this and questions like these do not shake my faith at all, in fact, it strengthens it. All humanity, in all corners of the world are in desperate need of mercy, grace, and a true King.
  • pg. 5 - the purpose of Aztec religious offerings
  • pg. 8 - Alvarado raids the temples, looking for gold
  • pg. 11 - Cortes on Cozumel - "Cortes had his best cavalry men mount the glistening and snorting animals and gallop them along the beach. Artillerymen tested cannons, firing them into hillsides; the explosions were thunderous, flame and smoke belching from the muzzles. Archers shouldered crossbows and sent arrows whistling through the air at makeshift targets."
  • pg. 21 - the legally required forewarning - accept Christ or be conquered. (there were priests that didn't agree with this method, they insisted that conversion is a process that requires time. The priests didn't have swords and cannons though.)
  • pg. 114 - The Faith presented to Montezuma by Cortes - worship of the one and only savior, Jesus Christ, he explained, who was the son of God, and all humankind were brothers and sisters, the offspring of Adam and Eve. God had created the world and had included a heaven  for those who worshiped and believed and lived good lives, and a hell where sinners and nonbelievers suffered a fiery eternity. Cortes also added that the Aztec gods were ugly, vile, and demonic; as was their practice of human sacrifice. CONTRASTED BY...
  • pg. 115 - Montezuma responded by - ascending the steep steps of the Great Temple, the highest in Tenochtitlan, and prayed vigorously to his god Huitzilopochtli, the hummingbird god of war and sacrifice, patron of the Aztecs. After his priests sacrificed a dozen children, believing that the survival of the universe depended on them, Montezuma would kneel before flickering firelight and pray for vision, for truth. He would desperately try to understand Cortes and these strangers, who victories against the Tabascans and the Tlaxcalans, against terrific odds, were difficult to fathom. kneeling before the stone idol - human hearts smoldering on a brazier, priests attempting to see the future in the fresh viscera of sacrificed doves and quail - Montezuma waited for a sign.
  • pg. 118 - a tour of the market - slashing of throats of infants, beheading young women, and the dressing of teenagers in the freshly flayed skins of humans.
  • pg. 121 - ritual sacrifice in the Aztec religion
  • pg. 310 - their gods had forsaken them...
  • pg. 313 - Spaniards (Christian) in their quest for gold, waylaid the destitute stragglers leaving the city
  • pg. 314 - the post-victory debauchery
  • pg. 315 - Cortes - "On the day Cuauhtemoc was captured and the city taken, we gathered up all the spoils we could find and returned to our camp, giving thanks to Our Lord for such a favor and the much desired victory which He had granted us."
  •  pg. 329 - Cortes defined - manipulative, duplicitous, ego-maniacal, barbarous, military genius

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