In the development of the various pieces of literature, the authors have a tendency to consider different styles of writing, which determines the type of language they utilize. Historical figures write pieces of history with an ambiguous language, while critics tend to emphasize the content to determine what they present to readers. As time continues to elapse, the perception regarding past events alters. In this instance, the commonly accepted principles may be disapproved in the future. In this case, Christopher Columbus presents the historical coverage in making his voyages that can be a subject of dispute. Similarly, no events have as high significance to the development of the United States of America and Old Word as Columbus’s discovery. The modern population of Europe and America is aware of the heroic stories of Cristopher Columbus.
Nonetheless, a significant amount of information remains unrevealed and hidden in the dark. This matter implies that Columbus is a primary driver for the atrocities and massacre of indigenous people with conquering their land. The major features of Aztecs and indigenous people emphasizing by Cortes and Columbus help provide background recognition of Aztecs’ and indigenous cultures and their involvement in the development of the views and values of modern European and American societies. Similarly, after analyzing the presence of different social classes in the modern world, this feature reveals the understanding of how the historical flow of events adds value to the present structure of the world. In turn, I claim that the comparative analysis of Christopher Columbus’ Log (1492) and Cortes’ From Second Letter to Charles V (1520) predominantly emphasizes the attitudes towards slavery and economic and political wealth of the Old World while revealing the hidden details of massacre of the indigenous people and disrespect to their cultural dogmas.
Columbus’ discovery cultivated the understanding of the existence of a new continent and representative of the other culture on the other side of the world. Cortes also took part in the development of the new culture by actively traveling and discovering the population of Aztecs. These actions allowed them to build awareness of the native inhabitants. On the contrary, they also encountered the circumstance, which does not comply with the European behavioral norms. In this instance, the comparison focuses on the relationship between their accounts in a way they observe a native population. One of the common attributes in Cortes’ and Columbus’ writing remains a portrayal of the indigenous people while covering the important features of their lives, such as religious beliefs, cultural values, and organizational structure.
Comparative analysis of Christopher Columbus’ Log (1492) and Cortes’ From Second Letter to Charles V (1520)
In the article, The Columbus Letter of February 15, 1493, and Pedro Vaz de Caminha Letter of May 1, 1500: A Comparison by Hulet, Columbus describes and portrays the indigenous people as the ones who are not able to communicate and interact effectively, as they used gestures to express their ideas, thoughts, and emotions (Hulet 5). Additionally, women have a tendency to use leaves to cover the particular parts of the body (Hulet 5). After a careful evaluation of his words, it seems that Columbus does not take them as individuals due to their inability to communicate and interact freely. Moreover, the attitude towards the indigenous people remains adverse since their lack of social development remains the primary reason for discrimination of their rights in the future.
On the other hand, Herman Cortes depicts the people of Mexico as advanced by having clothes and particular manners (par. 3). On the contrary, the article New World News, Ancient Echoes: A Cortés Letter and a Vernacular Livy for a New King and His Wary Subjects (1520–23) by Wright portrays that their organizational structure does not correspond to the main principles of the visitor’s commonly accepted social norms due to the presence of human’s sacrifice (Wright 711). Regardless of the presence of Aztec’s social hierarchy, some people remain wealthy and live in luxurious homes. Nonetheless, the other part of the Aztecs’ population lives in poverty. Urban European and American citizens follow norms and have well-established behavioral patterns. Cortes emphasizes that Aztecs remain hard-working, organizationally structured, and performed merchandising and selling activities in the cities (par. 4). In this instance, it seems that Cortes respects the culture of Aztecs. Nonetheless, his intentions remain unclear, as he devotes his life to serving Spain, Zamora claims in the book All These Are the Admiral’s Exact Words (60).
As for the behavior of indigenous people and the attitude towards gold, Columbus claims that the native population does not have materialistic intentions since they appear to be friendly, generous, and hospitable. They offer food and drinks to visitors. Columbus also addresses the fact that the indigenous people have a tendency to trade valuable items, such as gold to useless or broken goods (par. 36). In this case, the book All These Are the Admiral’s Exact Words by Zamora portrays that the Spaniards follow the commercial goals of befriending the indigenous people and becoming exploiters for the particular purposes (Zamora 60).
Moreover, Columbus points out that the native population of America does not know how to use different tools and weapons, such as a sword on a regular basis. Lastly, the indigenous people can react unexpectedly as they can take their swords and commit suicide as a protest and lack of the understanding of the actions of newcomers (Zamora 60). All of these factors develop the manipulation and violation of the rights of the indigenous people leading to the continuous murder of the native population of America. In comparison, Wright emphasizes that Cortes mentions that Spaniards retake the city from natives by force and try to improve the financial situation of Spain and enrich themselves by taking all gold and silver that belongs to Aztecs (712-714). In this instance, Cortes acts in agreement with his principles since improving the condition of Spain remains more important than finding a compromise with the Aztecs.
As for religion, Columbus depicts them as having uncommon religious beliefs from the European perspective, as they do not have a primary God to devote their lives to and follow the rules and dogmas of the religious institutions and can convert to Christianity (Zamora 45). In this case, the natives believe that Columbus remains a God who came from heaven (Columbus par. 71). These aspects also develop a lack of respect for the other races. In comparison, Cortes presents Aztecs as idolatrous and having the temples and perform sacrifices on a regular basis (43).
Additionally, Cortes underlines the negativity of the sacrifices by saying, “They were all polluted with human blood, shed ill the sacrifices” (par. 9). D’Souza claims in the article The Crimes of Christopher Columbus that the following statement implies that Cortes desires to divert the native population from idolatries to Christianity due to the presence of violence in their religion (par. 1). In this case, Cortes’s decision has a positive intention, as he wants to cultivate Christianity among Aztecs by forcing them to change the religion and eliminate the presence of sacrifices. Nonetheless, the advantageous perspective becomes destroyed since the desire for power, control, and gold outweighs respect to the other cultures.
As for slavery, Columbus has an impact on the development of the slave traffic, as the indigenous people have no understanding of their personal values. In this instance, he notifies “(…) to capture them for slaves. They should be good servants and very intelligent (…) I will bring half of dozen of them back to their Majesties” (Columbus par. 56). Transportation of slaves remained accessible due to the inability of the indigenous people to respond to the forced action aggressively and remained the driver for the economic development of Spain. In turn, Cortes forces Aztecs to abandon their values and cities with the assistance of keeping Montezuma in captivity and making him perform a speech, which eliminates the resistance (Write 741). In the end, both Cortes and Columbus consider the indigenous people like slaves with no personal traits and values (Wright 737). In this instance, the slave trade is one of the primary causes of the cultivation of the perception of the ability to respect the representative of the other cultures and the distinction of the native American civilizations.
In conclusion, both Cortes and Columbus played a significant role in the discovery of the New World. Despite having positive intentions for the cultivation of Christianity among indigenous people and improvement of the economic condition of the Old World, Columbus and Cortes forced the indigenous people and Aztecs into slavery and made their sacrifice their original ways of living. Consequently, the beneficial discovery turns into the curse to the native population of America, as the conquerors force them to eliminate their culture and religion and sacrifice their lives to slavery. Consequently, the current inability to recognize and respect other ethnicities and cultures occurs with the assistance of Cortes and Columbus. The beliefs and ideas of both Cortes and Columbus appeared to become violent and destructive for the indigenous civilizations. As Columbus’ Log of the first and Cortes’ From Second Letter to Charles V provide relevant information about the economic and political wealth and hides the negative details about the massive massacre and termination of the existence of the indigenous people and their culture.
Columbus, Christopher. Christopher Columbus’ Log, 1492. Web.
Cortes, Herman. From Second Letter to Charles V, 1520. Web.
D’Souza, Dinesh. The Crimes of Christopher Columbus, 1995. Web.
Hulet, Claude. The Columbus Letter of February 15, 1493, and Pedro Vaz de Caminha Letter of May 1, 1500: A Comparison. Los Angeles: University of California, 1995. Print.
Wright, Elizabeth. “New World News, Ancient Echoes: A Cortés Letter and a Vernacular Livy for a New King and His Wary Subjects (1520–23)” Renaissance Quarterly 61.3 (2008): 711-749. Print.
Zamora, Margarita. “All These Are the Admiral’s Exact Words.” Reading Columbus. Ed. Margarita Zamora. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 39-61. Print.