One of my favorite pages, to date.  There is a remarkable scene form Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico in which a boxed in Cortéz leads a band of conquistadors and Tlaxcalans up one of the temples in desperate hand to hand combat.  It’s almost impossible to appreciate this moment in history without taking into consideration all that came after it, from the destruction of Tenochtitlan and the Mexica of the Triple-Alliance to the subsequent waves of Europeans who flocked to the Americas in the years that followed, a circumstance by degrees detrimental to everyone who wasn’t European.  It’s right to consider the dark side of the choices that the men and women of history have made.  Cortéz was, as his famous motto suggested, Bold, and fortune favored him.  The choices he made during the course of the conquest were undeniably audacious.  The choices the “Aztecs” made were also brave…better to fight to the death than submit, even while facing starvation and after a third of the population had been lost by the unwitting introduction of small-pox.  The destruction of Tenochtitlan was a tragedy and history suggests that Cortéz was willing to accept its surrender.  Maybe the Aztecs should have agreed to it.  The sticking point was (as I very basically understand it) the Aztec religion, which the Christian Spaniards insisted on being abandoned.  Sometimes things just have to end because the alternative results in what roman historian Tacitus would call a “bad peace”.  Can you imagine if Cortéz and Cuauhtémoc had agreed that the Aztecs could continue their practice of human sacrifice and ritualized cannibalism just as long as the Mexicans keep up with their regular payments of Gold to Spain?  No.