What happened when the peoples of the Americas came in contact with Europeans?


What happened when the peoples of the Americas came in contact with Europeans?

The topic of European interaction with, and conquest of, the Americas is an important one. The two documents included in this exercise cannot possibly do the topic justice. However, they do offer a glimpse into the attitudes and experiences of both the Spanish and the indigenous people of Mexico at the time of the “collision of their cultures.”


Document 1 is the Spanish ‘Requerimiento.’ This Law of Requirement, composed by officials of the Spanish monarchy, was read under ceremonial fanfare wherever Spanish ships landed on American shores.

Document 2 is an excerpt from a compilation of oral histories that tell of the conquest of what is now Mexico, from the perspective of the Aztecs themselves. This second document poses many challenges to modern historians. The history of Mexico was passed along from one generation to the next through oral traditions, along with artwork from the period (reproduced in the document). An anthropologist from the mid-twentieth century set these histories to paper. Consequently, the written account, an important source for historians, was created hundreds of years after the original event, which makes historical analysis and interpretation more difficult.


1) Read Chapters 1-3 of the textbook.

2) Read Document 1, The Spanish Requerimiento of 1510.

3) Read Document 2, Excerpts from The Broken Spears: The Aztec account Account of the Conquest of Mexico.

4) Answer the questions that follow by Saturday by 11:59pm. You can post your comments to other students until Sunday by 11:59pm. Review the Welcome Message for more info on discussion requirements. Be sure to label your answers.

5) The discussion should reflect your own words. I use software to detect plagiarism, so do your own work and if you use ANY information from the internet it is better to be safe than sorry, so cite it. If you use the internet for help, with few exceptions like Wikipedia.org, questionable sources can be avoided by searching on reputable websites, especially those that end in .edu, .org or .gov. All other websites should be carefully considered and the information critically evaluated and questioned.


1) What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? Are Documents 1 and 2 primary sources or secondary sources? How do you know?

2) What is the purpose of Document 1 and 2?

3) What role did religion play in the Spanish conquest of Latin America?

4) List 3 three pieces of useful information a student of Latin American History can gather from an analysis of Document