Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spanish Victory for Cortez with help from Friends

One of my commentators to the previous post is certainly correct about the Spanish needing help from native allies. Unfortunately I think that worked out better for the Spanish. The book on pre-Columbian agriculture, I picked up highlights the precipitous collapse of the native population and a shift in farming from using all the varied habitats to just those suitable for planting with a plow or raising cattle. The collapse can be attributed to old world diseases (Guns, Germs, and Steel is a great book on this subject), but the lack of recovery may be more due to the shift in farming. It also interesting that New world seems to have several cultural collapses including the Maya in the 10th century, the Anasazi in the 13th century, and Teotihuacan, about 25 miles to the north of Tenochtitlan (and probably a bigger city as well) abandoned in the 5th century. The Spanish spend some time hiding out in Teotihuacan after being thrown out of Tenochtitlan, before hooking up with the Tlaxcalans for the final defeat of the Aztecs. Central America is certainly a more populous and complex place than the new world campaigns I have run in the past. However, when I try to add complex and interesting large civilizations to my campaign, I am roundly booed by the players for interfering with their exploration and looting of ancient ruins. Perhaps the loudest complainer is  She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed who does not see the same drawbacks in her urban based Medieval European campaigns. More on this in another post.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tenochtitlan another City of the Pyramid

 I am afraid last months posting of my City of the Pyramid has thrown me into to research mode. Although I have known the of Cortez's conquest of Mexico since my youth, I had not appreciated the size of the city. According to my sources it was a city of 200,000 souls at a time when the largest cities in Europe, London and Venice, were only 100,000. Seville the largest city most of Cortez's had seen was probably only 60,000. To conqueror it with only 600 men took some cojones,  definitely not first level fighters. Above is a woodcut from 1524 based on the conquistadors descriptions. Below are a couple of more contemporary illustrations from Wikmedia based on the archaeological evidence.

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