Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Nov 8 at wilsonsalmanac.com: Tenochtitlán (and the Battle of Cajamarca)

Arrival of Cortes
1519 Hernán Cortés entered Tenochtitlán and Aztec ruler Moctezuma welcomed him with great pomp as would befit a returning god.

It was the year that Italy saw the death, on May 2, of Leonardo da Vinci, followed shortly by his countrywoman Lucrezia Borgia on June 24

In Rome, Germany's Martin Luther was gazing on new works by Michelangelo and Raphael adorning the palace of Pope Leo X, while answering charges that he had called the pontiff "fallible". Meanwhile, off the coast of Italy, Mediterranean traders sailed in fear of the corsairs of the notorious North African pirate, Khair ad Din (Barbarossa).

At the time, in England, the ink was scarcely dry on Thomas More's Utopia (1516), while elsewhere in Europe, King Charles of Spain was being elected Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. Meanwhile, across the big pond, Pedro Arias de Ávila, the new Governor of Panama was no doubt explaining to his superiors in Spain why in January he had beheaded Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the explorer and conquistador. In Holland, Erasmus published his Colloquia.

To the east, Persia's great Safavid Dynasty empire now rivalled that of the Ottomans, and in Switzerland, Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli was busy banning the sale of Roman Catholic indulgences. On September 20, Portugal's intrepid navigator, Ferdinand Magellan embarked to circumnavigate the globe, while over in Venice, Italy, rich citizens enjoying the full flush of the Renaissance were revelling in the works of the likes of the recently deceased Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione, and the city was the glory of Europe ...
 Scale model of the temple district of Tenochtitlán

Scale model of the temple district of Tenochtitlán
in the Anthropology museum in Mexico City.
Today nothing is left of the temple
except a few remains that can be seen near
the eastern walls of the Cathedral of Mexico.
Tenochtitlán, Mexico's great city of the world
Aztec pyramid iconAcross the Atlantic Ocean stood the great Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, situated where Mexico City stands today. Criss-crossed with canals, and featuring many aqueducts and markets, and a grand lake with floating gardens, it was the Venice of the New World (or, rather, Venice was the mini-Tenochtitlán of Europe, for the Mexican city was much larger and grander than that Italian town).
Moctezuma contemplates a comet

According to early Spanish accounts, it was unlike the European cities they knew, but more like the ones they had seen in romantic books, as it was not crowded and dirty. Tenochtitlán was larger, more beautiful and more complex than any European city at the time. The population of the lake city was some 200,000 - 300,000 people, at a time when London's numbered about 40,000 and only 65,000 people lived in Paris. Tenochtitlán's craftsmen, such as its fine goldsmiths, were a match for those in Europe, and the grandeur of the city's pyramids rivalled that of the Egyptian wonders ...
Read on at the Greed, gold and God, Part 1, page in the Scriptorium


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