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Author Topic: War and Indian Alliances at the Time of Spanish Conquest  (Read 202 times)
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« on: March 03, 2007, 06:43:23 AM »

War and Indian Alliances at the Time of Spanish Conquest

Nelly M. Robles Garc?a

   In the 15th century, the history of the Beniz?a had changed a great deal. The people who had previously dominated the valley of Huaxy?cac and beyond were now scattered all over the central valleys and were looking for strategic places to defend their territory.

   The most important aspects of their lives were now trading, building fortresses, roads and entrances to their villages? Religion had now moved into the background, but they still kept their beliefs, in spite of the times and war.

   The new towns were invariably protected by defensive walls and watchtowers from which they kept an eye on the access roads that could be used by possible attackers. On the north side of Mictl?n and Yagui, Chief Condoy could be seen at the head of the Mixe armies; they were a people famous for being rebellious and they had seldom paid tributes. The merchants were watched constantly to ensure that the enemy did not try to mingle among them and enter along the Soconusco route.

   In the Central valley, the strategic town of Zaachila was a key point of defense of the Beniz?a territories. It was also considered to be vulnerable, as groups of ?uusabi (Mixtecs) had settled nearby, in Cuilapam and near to Xoxocotl?n. They had settled there, however, with the authorization of the rulers of Zaachila and they all lived in relative peace.

   The ?uusabi were an admirable people; they were reasonable and respected the great Beniz?a culture; they also worshipped their gods to the degree that when one of their important lords died, they buried him and their offerings of precious metals and stones in one of the tombs on the high part of Dani B?a that had previously served to immortalize one of the great rulers of the ancestral capital.

   However,the Beniz?a later sent armies to Zaachila to fight against the Chontales, on the western part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as part of their attempt to control the routes to Soconusco, with the knowledge that the Mexicas, from fearsome Tenochtitlan, might arrive at any moment to take over those key routes.

   These were times of war, of strategy and alliances that became common practice, almost as common as war.
The legendary dynasty of the kings of Zaachila played an important role in the processes of alliances and wars. Zaachila II defeated the Mixes and many towns on the way to Tehuantepec. He fought against the ?uusabi and the Mexicas who tried to take over the Valley of Huazyacac. He was succeeded by Cocijoeza, who continued the struggle with the Mexicas and Mixtecos but lost control of the capital Zachila and had to move his power base to Tehuantepec.

   His son, Cocijopii made an alliance with the Mexicas by marrying Princess Coyolicatz?n. During his reign, he saw some strange white men mounted on animals arrive. These strangers made war with powerful firearms they knew nothing about. Therefore Cocijopii formed an alliance with the ?uusabi to confront the invaders and recover Zaachila from their control; but they could not avoid the white invasion of the valleys of Huazyacac and the rest of the region.

   The white men had arrived in Tututepec, on the coast, and were commanded by Pedro de Alvarado; they learned that it would be difficult to defeat the warriors of Huaxyacac; they had to face the powerful alliance between the Beniz?a and the ?uusabi in the valley but, after fierce fighting, they defeated them. This enabled the white men to establish their settlements, and they proceeded to ruin the temples.

   One of the last bastions of resistance was Mitla, whose people were devoted to the souls of the underworld to whom they commended the souls of those going to war. Mitla also succumbed and was brutally razed by the conquistadors. They made the natives dismantle the walls so that they could build the temples of the new god with the rubble.

   The natives obeyed but jealously guarded the seeds of their old race in the walls of the new temples. This race has been reborn over time so the Beniz?a are present in the world of today, because they are eternal.

Source: Pasajes de la Historia # 3 Monte Alb?n y los zapotecos


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