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When Dallasite David Sifuentes Jimenez, 40, signed up to take a class at the Jewish Community Center about the medieval Spanish-based language, Ladino, he thought he was merely adding to his storehouse of knowledge of linguistics, his hobby. He had no idea the class would lead him on a voyage of self-discovery.
Jimenez grew up in a middle-class family in Harlingen. His father's family was from San Luis Potosi, northern Mexico, and his parents' marriage had been arranged. He was sent to parochial Roman Catholic schools and was raised Roman Catholic. In college, he got a double masters in finance and accounting and today works as a manager in business services at Parkland Hospital.
Through an incredible series of coincidences, which some might see as no less than the hand of God at work, Jimenez learned a year ago that his family heritage is not what he believed it to be, that it had been kept a secret from him. Not only that, he also found out that hundreds of others in the U.S. and northern Mexico have the same secret: that their family was actually descended from the Jews of fifteenth-century Spain, and that their lineage has been preserved for over 500 years, to present times.
Every schoolchild knows that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain sent Christopher Columbus on his history-making voyage in 1492 to the New World. What is not in most textbooks, however, is that a few months earlier, the same Spanish monarchs—fresh from driving the Islamic Moors out of Spain-- issued a notorious "Edict of Expulsion," which required all of the estimated two-million Jewish citizens to either convert to Catholicism, under penalty of death, or leave Spain within 30 days with only the possessions they could carry on their backs.
An estimated half went into exile to friendlier countries in Europe, north Africa, or the Ottoman Empire (today's Turkey), whose sultan welcomed the banished creme de la creme of Spanish society-- merchants, physicians, educators. Others stayed behind and either converted or pretended to convert, while continuing to practice Judaism secretly.
These "Marranos" (literally "pigs") or "conversos" or "crypto-Jews" came under intense scrutiny by the Inquisition. Many later fled to "Nueva España," the Spanish territories in the New World, sometimes accompanying to northern and central Mexico the conquistadors, some of whom were Crypto-Jews themselves. One of the greatest, Luis Carvajál, admiral in the Spanish navy, founded Nuevo León, including the cities of Tampico and Monterrey.
His land grant extended from Tampico west to the Pacific and north to present-day San Antonio. He was later accused of harboring "Judaizers" and died in an Inquisition prison. Other family members were burned at the stake. When the long arm of the Inquisition established itself in Mexico City, some even fled with Don Juan de Oñate in 1598 and established the first colony in what is today New Mexico.
No matter in which part of the world they ended up, these Spaniards in-exile fiercely clung to their dual Jewish and Spanish heritages, whether openly or in secret. They maintained their Jewish customs and traditions to modern times, and even their Spanish language, which became known as "Ladino."
On November 8, 1519, the Spanish conquistadors first entered the great city of Mexico, the metropolis the Aztecs had built on a lake island. Don Hernando Cortes, who was accompanied by six hundred Spaniards and a great many native allies, at last could see for himself the temples and palaces about which he had heard so many marvels. The Spaniards arrived from the direction of Tlalpan, to the south of the city, passing across one of the wide causeways that connected the island with the mainland.
When they reached a locality known as Xoloco, they were welcomed by the last of the Motecuhzomas, who had come out to meet them in the belief that the white men must be Quetzalcoatll and other gods, returning at last from across the waters now known as the Gulf of Mexico. Thus Cortes and his men entered the city, not only as guests, but also as gods coming home. It was the first direct encounter between one of the most extraordinary pre-Columbian cultures and the strangers who would eventually destroy it.
Cortes landed on the coast at Veracruz on Good Friday, April 22, 1519; the Aztec capital surrendered to him on August 13, 1521. The events that took place between these two dates have been recounted in a number of chronicles and other writings, of which the best known are the letters Cortes wrote to King Charles V and the True History of the Conquest of Mexico by Bernal Diaz del Castillo. These two works, along with a few others also written by Spaniards, until now have been almost the only basis on which historians have judged the conquest of one of the greatest civilizations in pre-Columbian America.
But these chronicles present only one side of the story, that of the conquerors. For some reason-scorn, perhaps-historians have failed to consider that the conquered might have set down their own version in their own language.
This book is the first to offer a selection from those indigenous accounts, some of them written as early as 1528, only seven years after the fall of the city. These writings make up a brief history of the Conquest as told by the victims, and include passages written by native priests and wise men who managed to survive the persecution and death that attended the final struggle. The manuscripts from which we have drawn are now preserved in a number of different libraries, of which the most important are the National Library in Paris, the Laurenziana Library in Florence and the library of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
So we stood looking about us, or that huge and cursed temple stood so high that from it one could see over everything very well, and we saw the three causeways which led into Mexico, that is the causeway of Iztapalapa by which we had entered four days before, and that of Tacuba, and that of Tepeaquilla, and we saw the fresh water that comes from Chapultepec which supplies the city, and we saw the bridges on the three causeways which were built at certain distances apart through which the water of the lake flowed in and out from one side to the other,
and we beheld on that great lake a great multitude of canoes, some coming with supplies of food and others returning loaded with cargoes or merchandise; and we saw that from every house of that great city and of all the other cities that were built in the water it was impossible to pass from house to house, except by drawbridges
which were made of wood or in canoes;
and we saw in those cities Cues [temples] and oratories like towers and fortresses and all gleaming white, and it was a wonderful thing to behold; then the houses with flat roofs, and on the causeways other small towers and oratories which were like fortresses.
After having examined and considered all that we had seen we turned to look at the great market place and the crowds of people that were in it, some buying and others selling, so that the murmur and hum of their voices and words that they used could be heard more than a league off.
Some of the soldiers among us who had been in many parts of the world, in Constantinople, and all over Italy, and in Rome, said that so large a market place and so full of people, and so well regulated and arranged, they had never beheld before.
They ran in among the dancers, forcing their way to the place where the drums were played. They attacked the man who was drumming and cut off his arms. Then they cut off his head, and it rolled across the floor.
They attacked all the celebrants, stabbing them, spearing them, striking them with their swords. They attacked some of them from behind, and these fell instantly to the ground with their entrails hanging out. Others they beheaded: they cut off their heads, or split their heads to pieces.
They struck others in the shoulders, and their arms were torn from their bodies. They wounded some in the thigh and some in the calf. They slashed others in the abdomen, and their entrails all spilled to the ground. Some attempted to run away, but their intestines dragged as they ran; they seemed to tangle their feet in their own entrails. No matter how they tried to save themselves, they could find no escape.
The Spanish were known for being meticulous record keepers. What they recorded and described about Human sacrifice is accurate but their perception and understanding of the reasons behind why the Aztec carried out such activities were all skewed by an overly conservative Catholic point of view. This has apparently become a moral debate that is attempting to apply a modern set of morals to a people who did things their way for their reasons..
Look, I have seen carvings and paintings with my own eyes that depict sacrifice.
This is possible. ie. if you made a list of possibilities and then narrowed it down to probabilities (always bearing in mind that its just guesswork and that those long shots, or one a million are sometimes the answers) you could do a leap from: Spanish good record keepers, to Spanish kept accurate records here.
The population of Tenochtitlan at the time of the Conquest has been the subject of considerable controversy, but beyond question it must have amounted at least to a quarter of a million. The activities were many and colorful. Fiestas, sacrifices and other rituals were celebrated in honor of the gods.
Teachers and students met in the various calmecac and telpuchealli, the pre-Hispanic centers of education. The coming and going of merchant canoes and the constant bustle in the Tlatelolco market impressed the Spaniards so much that they compared the city to an enormous anthill. The military exercises and the arrival and departure of the warriors were other colorful spectacles. In brief, the life of Tenochtitlan was that of a true metropolis.
The city was visited by governors and ambassadors from distant regions. Gold, silver, rich feathers, cocoa, bark paper and other types of tribute, along with slaves and victims for the human sacrifices, streamed in along the streets and canals. The Spaniards were right: Tenochtitlan was indeed an anthill, in which each individual worked unceasingly to honor the gods and augment the grandeur of the city.
Originally posted by BASSPLYR
reply to post by BIHOTZ
THe soldiers account of the city of tenotchitlan (sp) is very cool. I remember that the spaniards called the city. The Venice of the new world due to all the waterways.
Another important factor in the growth of Aztec power was the shrewd work of the royal counselor Tlacaelel, nephew to Itzcoatl who instituted a number of significant reforms in the tribe's political, religious, social and economic structure. As a profound student of the cultural elements inherited from the Toltecs, he made use of everything that served his purpose-but he also gave everything a special slant, for his purpose was to consolidate the strength and wealth of the city.
One of the indigenous texts in the Codice Matritense describes how Itzcoatl and Tlacaelel rewarded the principal Aztec chieftains with lands and titles after the victory over Azcapotzalco, and then says that the king and his adviser decided to give their people a new version of Aztec history.
The preserved an account of their history,
but later it was burned,
during the reign of Itzcoatl.
The lords of Mexico decreed it,
the lords of Mexico declared:
"It is not fitting that our people
should know these pictures.
Our people, our subjects, will be lost
and our land destroyed,
for these pictures are full of lies....
In the new version, recorded in a number of extant documents, the Aztecs claim to be descended from the Toltec nobility, and their gods- Huitzilopochtli in particular-are raised to the same level as the ancient creative gods Tezcadipoca, and Quetzalcoatl.
But most important of all is the exalted praise given to what can only be called a mystical conception of warfare, dedicating the Aztec people, the "people of the sun," to the conquest of all other nations. In part the motive was simply to extend the rule of Tenochtitlan, but the major purpose was to capture victims for sacrifice, because the source of all life, the sun, would die unless it were fed with human blood.