Columbus and Cortes Essay

Words: 1068
Pages: 5

Matthew Johnson
Lesson 2 Essay Assignment
U.S. History One
February 1, 2013 In the 16th century Spaniards Herman Cortes and Christopher Columbus set out on endeavoring journeys in search of new worlds. Christopher Columbus encountered, in the Caribbean islands, a group of extremely simplistic Native Americans. Herman Cortes however encountered a much more advanced Native American group in Meso America; we formally know this area to be Mexico. In my essay I will be comparing and contrasting several aspects between both of these Native American Civilizations including sophistication, technology, housing, weapons, religion and their reaction to the Spaniards. Letters written by Columbus and Cortes will be used to make these comparisons.
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Cortes states that there is one temple that “surpasses the rest” and that “no human language can describe it.” Cortes describes one palace as having marble columns and floors of jasper. The Aztec city seems as a paradise in comparison to the one encountered by Columbus. The villages encountered by Columbus were very basic, and seemed poor. Columbus said “none of the villages I saw contained more than twelve or fifteen of them (houses),” In his account he compares the houses to tents. Therefore I take the Native American structures encountered by Columbus to be much less sophisticated. Much like the structures the housing was drastically different. In his letter Cortes says, “This city contains many fine and magnificent houses.” Cortes says the apartments are large and spacious; some even have upper and lower levels. On the other hand the Native homes encountered by Columbus resembled tents. In his letter Columbus describes them as having very high chimneys. He added that the homes were well kept and neat. As one would anticipate based off of what has been learned of the structures and sophistication, the weapons were drastically different. The Native Americans encountered by Columbus defended themselves with seemingly useless weapons possibly due to the fact that they did not possess iron. In