chapter  9
21 Pages

Mutual interchange

ByP. C. Sandler

Absolutist political regimes dominated many parts of Europe, such as Portugal and Spain, in a period which extends from the Medieval to the Modern epochs. In the Renaissance as well as in the time of the geographical discoveries, the upper social classes were contemptuous of productive work. It was socially downgraded, relegated to the lower classes and slaves. Even though they were preceded by the Vikings, people from the Iberian Peninsula ventured to discover and get the better of overseas lands through an exploitative approach. Some indigenous people from Central and South America at first reacted to the initially cautious approach of the future conquerors in a slightly different way in comparison to the inhabitants of the northern countries in America as well as of Asian countries, whose fierce resistance was their hallmark. A more ambivalent response included a “civilised” delusion which translated itself into a comparatively amiable contact. It is well known that the main ruler of the Aztecs, Montezuma, mistook Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, for an emissary sent by the heavens. Such a fatal error clouded his vision to Cortés’s bestial intentions. In any case, Montezuma’s amiable reception of Cortés, expressed by a somewhat contradictory openness to foreign influences, can be seen as a forerunner of what happened in the next five centuries 310in some parts of America; it was heightened as soon as the colonists replaced the indigenous inhabitants and tried to implant their own social customs. They construed a Paradise Regained myth around the ruthlessly conquered land in order to attract future settlers. Among the Latin American countries, Brazil seemed to be specially made for the spreading of this myth, due to its scenic endowments.