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Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership Essay


THESIS: Analyzing personality of Hernando Cortez and Montezuma II, one can notice that some signs of Machiavelli’s idea of the ruler are present in both historical persons; however, the use of power, violence and brute force is more typical for Cortez than Montezuma II, because the strong leader Montezuma II was the representative of aborigines, while Cortez arrived from another part of Earth and had no compassion towards the population he came to rule.

Montezuma II as the leader of the Aztecs Empire

The main statements of Machiavelli’s theory of effective ruler emphasize the necessity to maintain all socio-political institutions, control it, and use every possibility to develop. It is highly important to do not stop the process of development and give a change to citizens to improve their life. For Machiavelli, public and private life and morality have to be separated and the ruler should not control this sphere of life of his citizens.

Ruler may use his power only against the political rivals, but not his nation (Machiavelli). However, using power, force, or weapons, the ruler would involve ordinary citizens, people who would not have any profits from this struggle but they would have to follow the ruler. Such ideas seem strong and to some extent, they could be realized, but, on the other hand, they are too much optimistic and even utopian.

Analyzing personality of Hernando Cortez and Montezuma II, one can notice that some signs of Machiavelli’s idea of the ruler are present in both historical persons; however, the use of power, violence and brute force is more typical for Cortez than Montezuma II, because the strong leader Montezuma II was the representative of aborigines, while Cortez arrived from another part of Earth and had no compassion towards the population he came to rule.

When the Spanish Conquest arrived in Mexico, Montezuma II was a leader of the great and powerful empire of the Aztecs. Montezuma did not occupy the power, he had been elected by the citizens (Luián et al. 34). According to Luián et al., “Montezuma gave a fresh impetus to the growth of the imperial capital Tenochtitlan, commissioning monumental sculptures that formed part of an ambitious program of public architecture” (34).

He built a massive palace to underline his might, authority, and royal origin. The nature of Montezuma’s rulership consisted of the desire to maintain the status of a great empire and to create the image of a strong and powerful ruler. Montezuma wanted to spread his power on every part of his empire, making people respect him and his enemies to fear him. According to Machiavelli, the ruler has to protect his authority. Therefore, Montezuma’s behavior follows Machiavelli’s idea. However, on the other hand, Montezuma II was unable to protect his native land and keep his ruling position, facing the power of Spanish Conquest.

Although there were difficult obstacles that Montezuma and his people were unable to overcome such as the use of arms, cannons, and gun powder unknown to the Aztecs, the Native Americans could make more efforts to save their land. However, this action can be justified by the idea that Montezuma II and his lords believed that Spanish people are mystical creations from their legends; therefore, the Aztecs did not use forces against the Spanish.

Montezuma II inherited the power and was unable to control the whole empire, its territory, cities, and population, increasing its power and wealth. When the Spanish Conquistadores arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs Empire was already weak. Some of Machiavelli’s guidelines for an effective ruler had been followed by Montezuma II; however, comparing with Hernando Cortez, Montezuma seems less powerful and less effective as the ruler of the empire.

Hernando Cortez’s methods of rulership

Despite Montezuma II, Hernando Cortez knew what methods he should use to occupy this land. The Spanish used various weapons, killing thousands of the Aztecs, and destroying their civilization. The Spanish Conquistadores wanted to annex Mexico to the Spanish Empire. For the Spanish, the human resource was not the major value; they needed gold of the Aztecs much more than their sons and daughters.

Later, when the territory of Mexico had been occupied, the Catholic priests started to convert the Indians to Christianity. In other words, they did not separate the private and public life as it was underlined by Machiavelli. Cortez did not inherit the power; he arrived at another part of Earth with a few hundreds of people with two major purposes: glory and gold (Diaz). Starting his journey, he did not expect to become the ruler of this land. He could not imagine that it would be so easy to usurp the power and to destroy the empire existed in this territory before Spanish. Arriving in Mexico and analyzing the situation, Cortez understood that he can use this chance to build his state within the Spanish Empire.

Comparative analysis of the effectiveness of two rulers

Both, Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez were the strong rulers who did not neglect using the forces against their rivals and whose managing was authorial and brutal. However, Machiavelli’s idea of a strong ruler is seen in the person of Cortez. He did not neglect the use of force, being brutal towards the native people. Moreover, Cortez could easily punish his soldiers in case they did something he did not like or disagreed with. For this ruler, power and authority were the basic principles of rulership. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that Cortez more closely followed Machiavelli’s guidelines for an effective ruler.

Works Cited

Diaz, Bernal. The Conquest of New Spain. Trans. J. M. Cohen. US: Penguin Books, 1963. Print.

Luián, Leonardo López, Colin McEwan, and Elisenda Vila Llonch. “MOCTEZUMA II: MAN, MYTH, AND EMPIRE.” Minerva, (2009), pp. 34-37. Web.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Ed. David Wootton. US: Hackett, 1995. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 29). Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/montezuma-ii-and-hernando-cortezs-methods-of-rulership/

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"Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership." IvyPanda, 29 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/montezuma-ii-and-hernando-cortezs-methods-of-rulership/.

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IvyPanda. "Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership." August 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/montezuma-ii-and-hernando-cortezs-methods-of-rulership/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership." August 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/montezuma-ii-and-hernando-cortezs-methods-of-rulership/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Montezuma II and Hernando Cortez’s Methods of Rulership'. 29 August.

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