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Review of “The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico” by Bernal Diaz
ammoland ^ | 20 June, 2017 | Dean Weingarten

Posted on 06/21/2017 7:17:13 AM PDT by marktwain

The American edition, published in 1956, 468 pages, Translated by A.P. Maudsley

The Diaz account is the best history book that I have read. It has all the advantage of a first person account and reads like a well written adventure novel.

The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo is the only extant first person account of the campaign under the command of Hernando Cortez from 1519 to 1520. The campaign resulted in the discovery and conquest of the Aztec civilization in Mexico.

Cortez himself wrote five long letters to Carlos V in Spain. Parts of them are included in this edition to help explain the narrative. But Cortez' letters were essentially reports of a Conquistador commander seeking favor, and explaining his actions, which were mostly extralegal.

The entire Conquest was a massive verification of the adage that “It is easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.”

Bernal Diaz' account is a first person narrative of the entire campaign, with the amazing detail of a foot soldier who is vitally interested in food, women, weapons, and gold. He includes accounts of two separate expeditions before Cortez.

Bernal Diaz made extensive remarks on the use of firearms in his narrative. The initial numbers were tiny, but contributed significantly to the success of the conquest.  Of the initial 400 to 500 men under the command of Cortez, there were 16 with horses, 13 with individual guns, four small cannon, “some brass guns” (more cannon), and 32 crossbowmen. The 13 personal guns were almost certainly arquebuses, the first really practical personal gun, with early matchlocks. Diaz mentions “much powder and ball”.

Diaz rated the crossbowmen and the “musketeers” about equal in effectiveness.

(Excerpt) Read more at ammoland.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Mexico
KEYWORDS: banglist; cannibalism; conquest; cortez; guns; humansacrifice; mexico
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This book is the best account of the discovery and conquest of the Aztec civilization (Mexico). It happened from 1519-1520. This is *the* only real first person account. It is extremely detailed and well written.

It blows the mythology of political correctness to bits.

But that is the case with all factual history.

1 posted on 06/21/2017 7:17:13 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Read parts of this many years ago. Was impressed by how (iirc) the Spanish only had six horses, but that six mounted men were enough to turn the tide in much larger engagements.

Also worthy of note: the nations which had been defeated previously by the Aztecs eagerly joined the Spanish side.


2 posted on 06/21/2017 7:21:16 AM PDT by BenLurkin (The above is not a statement of fact. It is either satire or opinion. Or both.)
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To: marktwain

Thanks, this book is sitting on my desk for summer reading at the beach.


3 posted on 06/21/2017 7:25:00 AM PDT by JonPreston
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To: marktwain

Me debía leerlo en español.

Thanks for posting.


4 posted on 06/21/2017 7:29:47 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: JonPreston

Love the part where his pride shows through — “and who but us could have done it?”


5 posted on 06/21/2017 7:30:38 AM PDT by CondorFlight (I)
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To: marktwain

It is a great book. One of the points in it is that Cortez easily convinced the slave tribes to support him against the cannibal Aztecs. You don’t hear much about that from the La Raza people.


6 posted on 06/21/2017 7:36:28 AM PDT by VanShuyten ("...that all the donkeys were dead. I know nothing as to the fate of the less valuable animals.")
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To: marktwain

I read it many years ago in High school! I even read Prescott’s version. GREAT HISTORY!
Found a copy of Bernal Dias’ book not long ago and reread it. I considered it such a important book I donated it to the local library.
They tossed it, along with other real history books that I donated, in the Salvation Army bin. I will NEVER give them another book on anything.


7 posted on 06/21/2017 7:37:05 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

They tossed it, along with other real history books that I donated, in the Salvation Army bin. I will NEVER give them another book on anything.


Gotta keep fighting. The library principle now is to continually replace old books with new books. It is almost Orwellian on a slow train.

I thought a function of library was to keep a record of what had been.


8 posted on 06/21/2017 7:39:59 AM PDT by marktwain (President Trump and his supporters are the Resistance. His opponents are the Reactionaries.)
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To: marktwain

I loved the part where a soldier convinced them to build an engine of war he had seen in Europe. From the description given, it was a catapult. It failed.

Then luck was with them when they, during the fight, needed water, dug a well and found fresh water in the middle of an island surrounded salt water.


9 posted on 06/21/2017 7:43:11 AM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: marktwain

Diaz wrote the book as an old man in his 80s. One of the reasons, I think, that it is so readable is that he wrote it in the plain language of an old soldier, not a scholar. He remembers the horses’ names, but can’t seem to recall the name of the priest who was on the expedition.


10 posted on 06/21/2017 7:44:08 AM PDT by hanamizu
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To: marktwain

>I thought a function of library was to keep a record of what had been.

Libraries are entirely liberal propaganda machines now.

Leftism is a death-cult that must be destroyed if western civilization is to survive.


11 posted on 06/21/2017 7:45:38 AM PDT by JohnyBoy
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To: VanShuyten

One of the points in it is that Cortez easily convinced the slave tribes to support him against the cannibal Aztecs.


I would not say it was easy. They had to be convinced he had a good chance of winning. He had to defeat the Tlaxacans militarily, before they joined him.

The Aztecs fought smart, hard, and courageously. Just because they were evil does not mean they were stupid or cowards. They were extremely effective warriors, who came up against superior weapons and technology, and a superior religion.

We should not discount the part that disease played, either.


12 posted on 06/21/2017 7:46:01 AM PDT by marktwain (President Trump and his supporters are the Resistance. His opponents are the Reactionaries.)
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To: BenLurkin

>Read parts of this many years ago. Was impressed by how (iirc) the Spanish only had six horses, but that six mounted men were enough to turn the tide in much larger engagements.

The Spanish had the best troops in the world at the time. If they’d launched a full on crusade into Islam instead of fighting in Europe there might not be a Islamic North Africa today.


13 posted on 06/21/2017 7:48:51 AM PDT by JohnyBoy
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To: marktwain

Agree. Another good book on this same subject is “Conquistador” by Buddy Levy. It fills in some details that Bernal Diaz’s book leaves out, particularly about the naval operations - the building of ships, their disassembly, transportation over the mountains, and fighting on the lake.


14 posted on 06/21/2017 7:49:59 AM PDT by Parmenio
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To: marktwain

Excellent, educational book.
My dad made me read it many decades ago, and its a great corrective to most history - the nitty gritty nature of events, the constant worries about supplies and illness, rewards and personal relationships. In any great event there are the humble agents of it who actually suffer to achieve the result.
The second part of the book, after the familuar spectacle of the first part, which ends with the final campaign against Tenochtitlan, is maybe more educational. It is mainly detailed accounts of the grueling marches of the column of conquest from one Mexican settlement to another, year after year. The real conquest. Conquest was exhausting, tedious, painful.


15 posted on 06/21/2017 7:52:13 AM PDT by buwaya
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To: BenLurkin

Diaz tells about some natives showing him the thigh bone of a giant which was about five foot tall.


16 posted on 06/21/2017 7:55:01 AM PDT by odawg
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To: Parmenio

The go-to modern work these days is the one by Hugh Thomas.
Extremely comprehensive and detailed, as usual for Thomas.

Prescotts is the old standard work, interestingly a translation of Prescott’s (my dad had this too) was also the standard Spanish-language history for over a century!
Prescott (in English) has the advantage in the antique qualities of poetic narrative, in the art of description, over Thomas.


17 posted on 06/21/2017 7:59:53 AM PDT by buwaya
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To: hanamizu

Diaz wrote the book as an old man in his 80s.


Well... He *finished* the book as an old man. He started the book *at minimum* 15-20 years before it was finished.

One of the prefaces for the book mentions a “daybook”, so Diaz may have kept a diary. He almost certainly was in close contact with former comrades for the 30 years before the first mention of him working on the manuscript in 1552.

It is clear that he considered the account to be valuable, so he likely took notes from conversations he had with people like Pedro Alverado, who was one of Cortez’ Lieutenants, who he served under several times. Alverado became the Governor of Guatemala in 1524.


18 posted on 06/21/2017 8:00:11 AM PDT by marktwain (President Trump and his supporters are the Resistance. His opponents are the Reactionaries.)
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To: marktwain

I’ll have to read it. I purchased the book last year.

It’s on the list.


19 posted on 06/21/2017 8:02:16 AM PDT by sauropod (I am His and He is Mine)
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To: NewJerseyJoe

P4L


20 posted on 06/21/2017 8:02:35 AM PDT by NewJerseyJoe (Rat mantra: "Facts are meaningless! You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!")
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