Segments in this Video

Christianity and Pre-Hispanic Concepts (03:18)


The conquest of Mexico pitted two religious concepts: the individual and the society, and monotheism versus polytheism. Experts discuss differences of beliefs between Mesoamericans and the Christian Conquistadors.

Body and Soul in Christianity and the Pre Hispanic World (02:00)

The Christian concept of the person is formed of body, spirit and soul, while the Mesoamericans believed the individual was formed by three souls, in the brain, heart and liver. Mesoamericans also had an animist relationship with an animal and a relationship with the collective.

Human Sacrifice (04:37)

Human sacrifice has existed in civilizations and in Christianity, is represented by Christ's sacrifice reenacted in the Mass. Mesoamerican civilizations sacrificed captives before the Aztec Empire.

Sacrifice for the Cyclical Renewal of the Gods (02:20)

Almost all religions have practiced human sacrifice, but the Aztecs emphasized sacrifice in their political, military and cosmological realms. Flower Wars captured sacrificial victims to feed the gods, while other victims personified the gods for renewal.

Tonalli (04:51)

The Tonallí is the energy that resides in the brain; it can be preserved for the collective if death is administered by ritual sacrifice. Captives from the Flower Wars were joined by slaves bought for sacrifice as the state gained power.

Cannibalism (04:22)

The ritual sacrifice could include the consumption of certain parts by a group in ritual, or be part of revenge cannibalism on the battlefield. Absence of cattle may have led to a lack of protein. Aztec culture of sacrifice controlled subjects and terrorized enemies

Spiritual Conquest (03:31)

Pope Alexander VI authorized the conversion of the natives of Spain's holdings in the New World, with the obligation of the church to protect the converted natives. Temples and idols were destroyed and churches and convents built.

Franciscan Friars (02:09)

Cortés greets the twelve friars who went to Tenochtitlán in 1524 to found the Franciscan mission. As linguists, the friars find new linguistic modes in Aztec codices.

Bernardino de Sahagún (03:40)

In the 1550-60s, Friar Bernardino de Sahagún dedicated himself to learning the native languages and transcribing the culture, flora and fauna, indigenous medicine, and native writings in his Florentine Codex.

Creation of a Mestizo Nation (02:33)

The early Franciscan friars arrived from the Reconquest of Spain with the fire of conversion that destroyed native codices and symbols of native beliefs. Some tried to justify this destruction. Cortés was determined not to allow the extermination of the native population.

Bartolomé de las Casas, Defender of the Natives (05:59)

Friar Bartolomé de las Casas protected the native population, but insisted on changing their beliefs. Bartolomé went with his father to Hispaniola as the second ordained priest to the New World and was horrified by the treatment of the native population.

Credits: Human Sacrifice and Spiritual Conquest: The Conquest-Part 3 (01:24)

Credits: Human Sacrifice and Spiritual Conquest: The Conquest-Part 3

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Human Sacrifice and Spiritual Conquest: The Conquest—Part 3

Part of the Series : The Conquest
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In this chapter two different notions, on how each empire saw the world converge and yet differ in one equally important aspect for both cultures: religion. The spiritual conquest was an even more complicated task than the military conquest, where the role of the friars and humanists was pivotal in this transformative process. The permanence and merge of beliefs became the religious basis for the modern Mexicans. The third part of The Conquest series concerns the religious and philosophical differences between the Spaniards and the Mesoamerican cultures, monotheism versus polytheism, individualism versus collectivism. Historians and anthropologists also find similarities as in the concepts of body and soul, and sacrifice; but Christ's crucifixion was the ultimate sacrifice for Christians, while the Aztecs emphasized human sacrifice for political, military and cosmological reasons, using it to control and terrorize their subjects. The advent of the Franciscan monks, sent by Pope Alexander VI to convert and protect the natives, allowed the mestization of the Mexican population, unlike in the Bahamas. Monks like Friar Bernardino de Sahagún and Friar Bartolomé de las Casas preserved the native languages, culture and history from more zealous religious who destroyed Aztec writngs, temples and idols in their fire to exterminate all pagan ideas. (In Spanish)

Length: 43 minutes

Item#: BVL93887

ISBN: 978-1-68272-067-7

Copyright date: ©2011

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