Was the conquest of the Aztec Empire morally justified?

Aug 2012
1,554
#1
So, recently I was reading a thread on this forum asking the question of whether Hernan Cortes was a psychopath. And whilst reading it, I was surprised by how many people seemed to view his actions as legitimate due to the conduct of the Aztecs - both towards their own people via human sacrifice and their belligerence towards their neighbours.
But I'd like to see how people at large view this issue. Did the behaviour of the Aztec Empire justify Cortes' (And the other peoples he aligned with) actions?

For myself, I cannot agree that it was. From a pragmatic standpoint, I can understand that Cortes found himself in an advantageous position in which he could become fabulously wealthy, and can understand his reasoning. But when one considers the beautiful art the Aztec Empire left behind, their architecture, their theology, even their unique means of farming on the waterways, I do feel pity for what became of them, and feel it is a shame they lost so much. But I am sure people will have their own opinions on the matter.
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2019
1,472
Kansas
#2
Justification is in the eyes of the winner. We have no Aztec records to get a window into the average persons mindset as things went down. The Aztecs may have been as evil as any Nazi regime or their leaders wise kind and compassionate.

We just don't know - All information we have is in the form of agenda driven correspondence.

So rather than be concerned about justification, we are better to look at it simply an event in history.
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2016
1,112
Merryland
#3
imho revolution by the locals would have been more than justified.
I don't see any right for Spain to go in and invade/conquer.
missionary zeal could justify visitation but not conquest.
presumably in that era might made right. we took your country because we could.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,571
Portugal
#4
So, recently I was reading a thread on this forum asking the question of whether Hernan Cortes was a psychopath. And whilst reading it, I was surprised by how many people seemed to view his actions as legitimate due to the conduct of the Aztecs - both towards their own people via human sacrifice and their belligerence towards their neighbours.
But I'd like to see how people at large view this issue. Did the behaviour of the Aztec Empire justify Cortes' (And the other peoples he aligned with) actions?

For myself, I cannot agree that it was. From a pragmatic standpoint, I can understand that Cortes found himself in an advantageous position in which he could become fabulously wealthy, and can understand his reasoning. But when one considers the beautiful art the Aztec Empire left behind, their architecture, their theology, even their unique means of farming on the waterways, I do feel pity for what became of them, and feel it is a shame they lost so much. But I am sure people will have their own opinions on the matter.
Is any conquest morally justified? I don't think so.

Does history, the study of the human past, has to take moral stands? I also don't think so. Making a moral stand is just a quite biased position about the past.
 

macon

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
4,003
Slovenia, EU
#5
So, recently I was reading a thread on this forum asking the question of whether Hernan Cortes was a psychopath. And whilst reading it, I was surprised by how many people seemed to view his actions as legitimate due to the conduct of the Aztecs - both towards their own people via human sacrifice and their belligerence towards their neighbours.
But I'd like to see how people at large view this issue. Did the behaviour of the Aztec Empire justify Cortes' (And the other peoples he aligned with) actions?

For myself, I cannot agree that it was. From a pragmatic standpoint, I can understand that Cortes found himself in an advantageous position in which he could become fabulously wealthy, and can understand his reasoning. But when one considers the beautiful art the Aztec Empire left behind, their architecture, their theology, even their unique means of farming on the waterways, I do feel pity for what became of them, and feel it is a shame they lost so much. But I am sure people will have their own opinions on the matter.
Let's approach your question from two ways:

-Today's legal standards: ok, imagine a state and a system massively slaughtering prisoners, engaging in ritual cannibalism, decapitations, killing of infants, flaying etc, I suppose others would have both legal and moral right to invade them.
-Legal standards of 16th centuries Spain: Spanish were actioning as protectors of catholic faith in Europe (they just finished reconquista before quest in Americas), also conquest of Americas was under a catholic cross. When they met atrocities as human sacrificing, ritual cannibalism and such they got in a real religious frenzy. And then a might makes a right or Spanish superior technology to Indian one BUT which was more than matched by resources as numbers of fighters. Sorry, I don't see anything immoral if few hundred of crazy guys invade an empire of many millions with six numbers of warriors and MANUALLY fight and conquer them. You know, they were not dropping a-bombs but fighting with swords and with few cannons and horses.

Spanish were HEROES without any moral judging of their acts. Cortez was not sitting in a remote Pentagon and sending others into a slaughter, he was leading by an example and more than once involved in a personal combat. Without diseases Spanish would be still defeated but nobody knew what was causing them. Spanish were also not immune to tropic diseases and Europeans were dying because of them in Carribean in those times at high rates. Tough luck for Aztecs that they were not in tropics but on an elevated plateau. Spanish did not know anything about that in advance.

Please, all spare me with rights of anyone to do whatever he pleases because he was FIRST to somewhere. Others who come later will make their judgments from their view and it is only normal to do so.

Try also to discard a noble savage view and a fascination for an exotic diversity, I know that jaguar and eagle warriors were looking pretty cool and that we all miss them badly today. Imagine jaguars in pope's guard today instead of boring Swiss, what a view would that make. Even more if they would make few heart extractions on St. Peter's Square and on biggest catholic holidays. You know cultural diversity is very hype these days in EU.
 
Jan 2016
589
United States, MO
#8
In all of history, has there ever been a group that can claim to have never taken part in conquest?
That doesn't mean it is justified. It just means that every group is human and has done bad things. The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs was one of those bad things. I find it baffling to think that showing up somewhere, killing people, and taking over is somehow supposed to be good. By this logic, the aliens in the film Independence Day were excellent role models.
 
Likes: duncanness
Mar 2019
1,535
KL
#9
powerful people always subdue the weak ones, romans once conquered weaker european barbarians, same barbarians then decimated roman empire. greeks conquered anatolia and persia, same anatolia then paid back by decimating and enslaving greeks for hundreds of years so much so that the present greeks are confused with the turks. same portugese and Spaniards who decimated the aztecs were themselves ruled over for thousands of years starting with the Greek/Phoenician colonies and ending up with moorish spain who left it just a little more than five hundred years ago.

But rest of the history aside, the killings/massacres and the mass extermination and purge which were carried out by bible inspired catholic and racial colonists has no equal in the world, muslims are very much demonized but it were the muslims who spared the lives of ruthless crusaders who had butchered people ruthlessly, same goes to the moors who captured spain but never butchered its people, the bible inspired people just exterminated and plundered and looted unlike anything else the world had ever seen before. even the mongols were better. i think the legacy of western european crusaders/colonists was partially inspired by roman ideals of butchering people. these spaniards even plundered the ruins of pompeii or so i have heard, philipinos cry day and night for eliminating their pre colonial legacy by destroying every bit of artifacts which was pre colonial, similarly the books and manuscripts of the aztecs were ruthlessly burned for pagan garbage, hence the mexicans demanding apology from spain for their ruthless and uncontrolled bible inspired behaviour.

i think what motivated the colonists to behave such devilishly was the combination of racial and religious superiority complex, churchil even publicly admitted that he considered hindu religion as ugly/demonic or something, not to mention his views on euro aryan racial supremacy.

regards
 
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