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The World History Rewritten
Here I will present some remarks about civilizations of Pre-Columbian America. But first two reservations:
Mayan CivilizationMayan civilization developed in Jungles between today’s Honduras, Guatemala and Southern Mexico. Here is the schematic map of the region:
City-states of Mayan Civilization
This map is hand-drawn so some locations of cities are approximate. Names are in Polish transcription, but it is (I hope) the same as English.
Red circles shows some Mayan cities of the “Old Empire” (term “empire” is a mistake here)
Purple circles shows some Mayan cities of the “New Empire”
Black outlines highlights metropolises of Tikal and Calakmul
It wasn’t the first Indian civilization in this region, but
had the strongest influence on the development of Indian civilizations
in neighbouring Mexico. First villages of Maya culture were formed in
the first millennium BC.
Every city was relative independent, so term “Old Mayan
used by archeologist to describe this period is a mistake (term Classic Period is better). There wasn’t
any centralized state here. The most important cities these times were populistic city-states.
Their trade, culture and technology radiated on neighbouring lands:
today Southern Mexico, Honduras and last but not least the Yucatan
peninsula, which was colonized by Mayans. Especially important Mayan
discoveries were the alphabet and the calendar (with extraordinary
exact calculation of the year length).
Two most powerful states at the peak of the classic Period
were Tikal and Calakmul.
For long decades both cities waged wars against each other, making
clients and allies of less powerful cities. This resembles the long
wars between Athens and Sparta in Ancient Greece or Umma and Lagash in
the Ancient Sumeria (Sumer).
Around the year of 900 AD
civilization of the Classic Period was destroyed by severe drought.
was the reason for bad crops and catastrophic famine. This catastrophic
disaster launched civil wars and mass migrations. The reason for the
was the climatic change but also too intensive agricultural
After the disaster of the great drought, Mayans rebuild their
culture in colonies on the north end of Yucatan peninsula. This new
culture is called “Post-Classic Period”
(or the “New Empire”). These times Mayan states were not so powerful as
were probably feudal
that sometimes united many Mayan cities.
About 1200 AD Mayan cities of the New Empire were invaded by Toltecs. Then the economic and
political crisis came. When the Spanish voyagers discovered Maya, the
civilization was totally decomposed. And Spaniards conquered the Mayans
The Aztec Empire, Hernan Cortes
One of the oldest cultures in Mexico was the civilization of Olmecs (ca. 1500-300 BC), a nation that
lived in Gulf Coast Region north from the Maya city Palenque on my map
(generally in the Mexican state of Tabasco).
Then in the Classic Period (300-900 AD) there was a few brilliant civilizations in Mexico, probably because of the influence of Maya city-states of the Classic Period. The most important ones were the Zapotecs (with the capital in Monte Alban), culture of Teotihuacan, and culture of El Tajin (in the Mexican state of Veracruz).In the IXth century AD more or less the same time when the Maya city-states started to decline, region was invaded by barbarian Toltecs, who built a great feudal empire spreading on the whole Central Mexico with the capital in Tollan. After a few hundred years in XIIIth century Mexico was again invaded by barbarian tribes (Chichimecs), and Toltecs were forced to migrate to Yucatan Peninsula, where they invaded Mayan states of Post-Classic Period.
The Aztec Empire and Hernan Cortes (Herman Cortes) expedition
It is the same map as above, but this time you should look at its left side.
Green area represents the (approximate) territory of Aztec Empire at the beginning of XVIth century AD.
Yellow spots marks some other independent or half-independent Indian states this time.
Red arrow is the route of Hernan Cortes (Herman Cortes) expedition (detailed map).
Black dots marks some important Pre-Columbian cities (some of them were already ruins in XVIth century).
Blue dot is the city of Vera Cruz founded by Cortes.
Black dot with Yellow outline is the Aztecs capital of Tenochtitlan localized on the isle in the middle of a lake (today is a Mexico City here).
One of the last barbarian tribes were Aztecs,
who invaded Central Mexico in the XIIth century and built their state
in the valley, where today is Mexico City. Valley was fertile, and was
an important strategic point, plus have great importance as a nexus of
trade routes, so the Aztecs grew in strength, and in the last decades
of XIVth century started a very spectacular expansion.
At the beginning of XVIth century Aztecs conquered most of the Indian nations in Central Mexico. One of the reasons for their expansion was the need for captives used then in human sacrifices which were a part of many religious rituals. Aztecs were killing this way thousands men a year. But it is useful to note that this religious terror was not so strong at the beginning of the Empire, but increased with every conquest - helping Aztecs to preserve their rule over many Indian nations. At the beginning of XVIth century Empire reached the logistics limits of expansion, and Aztecs king Montezuma II stopped further conquests. But Aztecs still waged some ritual wars with other Indian states (ex. with Tlascalans, whose state was in the yellow area east from Tenochtitlan).
In 1519 Hernan Cortes
(Herman Cortes) expedition
landed in Mexico. He had little more than
soldiers, several horsemen, several light canons and guns (arquebuses),
about thirty crossbows. Realized that he discovered a large and rich
country, and the Aztecs are hated by conquered Indians, he set off to
heart of the Aztec Empire. During his march, Cortes won alliance and
support of subsequent Indian tribes. For this reason he entered
Tlascalans state. With the support of Tlascalans (which he gained
defeating them in a battle), Cortes marched to the Tentochtitlan.
Montezuma II let Cortes’ army enter the capital without a battle.
Probably reasons for his “ostrich tactics” were: the legend of
Quetzakoatl, Indian rebellion and the reputation of unbeatable
soldiers, which Spaniards gained defeating Tlascalans.
This time Spaniards made
a terrible mistake. Drunken with easy conquest, they forget, that the
military advantage could be not enough to occupy a conquered country
promote a completely new ideology. They started to rob Aztecs’ treasury
temples. Finally they killed Aztecs nobles and officials on a religious
festival. This was the last mistake, which launched the Aztecs’
against Spaniards. Cortes had to retreat from Tentochtitlan losing
during a “noche
triste” (sad night) 2/3 of his army. Withdrawing to the coast
were stopped with 200 000 Aztecs army in an mountain pass to the Otumba
And Spaniards won the battle. Batle of Otumba was probably the greatest
in the history of warfare. Cortes was the only one commander who dare
a 1000 times greater army.
Fortunate for Cortes, he got reinforcements from Spanish
colonies, and with a new army of Indian allies he besieged and
destroyed Tentochtitlan, finally conquering Mexico (But the Montezuma’s
treasury lost during a noche triste was lost forever.)
How Spaniards could conquer so great country like the Aztec
Empire with such ease? Well, there were basically four reasons:
The Inca Empire, Francisco Pizarro
And here is a schematic map of the Inca Empire
Yellow color shows the Inca Empire.
Blue area is the kingdom of Chimu conquered by the Inca Empire.
Green squares represents some of the pre-Inca archeological sites.
Red arrows shows the march of Francisco Pizarro (Pisarro) (detailed map).
Red circle with black outline represents Cuzco - capital of the Inca empire.
Other red circles marks the cities of Tumbes and Cajamarca, which plays important role in the story of Pizarro’s conquest.
Green circle with the black outline represents Machu Picchu, the last (and never conquered) stronghold of Incas.
The Inca Empire originated
in a mountain valley around the capital of Cuzco
(or Cusco). It was the third or even forth culture in this region of
Andes Mountains (all these cultures based on potatoes, which helped to
feed large populations). The same as with the Aztecs Empire, Inca’s
the important nexus of trade routes. From the second half of XIVth
century till the year of 1525 the Inca Empire conquered many tribes and
states and got control over the most part of Andes
Mountains and Pacific Coast.
The original name of the state was Tahuantisuyo
(which means “the four sides of
the world”). The Incas was not
exactly the name of nation but a name of privileged ruling class of
soldiers, priests and sages (called amautas),
who were administrating the state. The rest of people were subjects
(ruled ones) and had social
status lower than helots in Ancient Sparta.
Here you can find the short summary of the Inca Empire.
It is useful to look at the organization of the Inca Empire because it was strongly administration-regulated (we can call this a “feudal communism”):
Effective administering of such a large empire was possible
Both inventions helped Incas to collect statistical
for effective administering.
Similar economic conditions result in
similar economic and political systems, no matter of the cultural
background of the country. Other examples of feudal states with
strongly government-regulated economy are medieval Byzantium, China or Japan.
Another interesting element of Inca culture was the religion -
with very similar rituals like in Christianity (generally almost all
nations of Pre-Columbian Indians conquered by Spaniards have rituals
that resembled Christian rituals, but similarities Spaniards had found
in Inca’s religion were so strange, that
made them think it was a devil’s joke).
For example Indians had a ritual of confession with priest
ordered expiation, and remission of sins. It was an element of religion
but also a tool that helped Incas to control common people. So it had
the same purpose as the ritual of self-criticism in XXth-century
Religion (as every ideology) has some political
and economic impacts
I have mentioned six, probably the most important consequences of religion. And most of them could be some times positive while other times negative. Religion could protect peasants and labour workers from exploitation or discourage them to defend themselves against exploitation.
This theory makes possible to analyze social and political impacts of different religions. But remember, no scientific theory could give answer is God exist or not, nor gives answer on any other religious question. This is the scope of philosophy or theology.
In XVIth century, Inca king Tupac
Yupanqui (or Thopa Inca Yupanqui) conquered the coastal
kingdom of Chimu. It is didactic
to compare the Inca Empire with Chimu Kingdom (but please treat the
story below as an illustrative story tale for children rather than as a
facts, because all we
know about Chimu comes from Spaniards, Incas and from archeological
Opposite to the Inca Empire, kingdom of Chimu was rather a
“liberal” (I mean: freedom-oriented, not left-winged) feudal state,
with larger wealth differences between peasants and aristocracy, and
with larger amount of personal freedom. Kingdom of Chimu sometimes was
the arena of domestic wars between different feudal factions, but also
was richer (per capita)
than the Inca Empire.
Because of the strong culture of freedom and national proud,
conquered kingdom of Chimu many times rebelled against Incas.
Rebellions were pacified with army, but also made Incas to treat the
coastal region of Chimu in a special way (we could say: with some
Ideology of freedom
When a country is oppressive, the promotion of the
ideology of freedom will be very weak, and the ideology of freedom will
be suppressed with other, stronger ideologies like ex. nationalism.
People who live there, will not be fight for freedom, understand the
freedom, or even see that they are brainwashed. From my own
experience: until I was 13 years old, I believed in communist ideology,
because it was so strongly promoted in my country that I didn’t know it
was based on lies - no mater how intelligent you are, you can
always be brainwashed by some strongly-promoted ideology. It is only
the matter of the amount
(and balance) of resources used to promote different
Ideology of freedom stimulates the economic growth.
Generally because of two reasons:
But not guaranties a honest
redistribution of resources.
Honestly, the ideology of freedom favors richer, active or more
intelligent people. Please look at this simple schema.
Life in freedom-oriented country could be very hard for
poor, not so educated, not so intelligent or not so enterprising
peoples. When some members of the society become rich very rapidly
(active-ones), others could suffer poverty, because the active-ones
increase demand on goods bringing prices of goods up, and increasing
this way the living expenses for the rest of the society (this effect
could be analyzed using math and economic tools, but have a social and
economic consequences - for example could be some times responsible for
the increasing popularity of populistic politicians and populistic
Please note that both extremes: too equal distribution of income and very unequal distribution of income (typical in freedom-oriented country) could have negative consequences: overexploitation of natural resources and slower growth (in first case) or political instability and mass poverty (in second case). Of course things are little more complicated here, but probably the most important law of my History Mechanics is: There are no ideal solution in politics and economy, every solution will have some positive and some negative aspects.
At the beginning of XVIth century the Inca Empire reached the
logistics limits of expansion. Rulers started to build walls and
fortifications protecting borders where barbarian Indian tribes were
especially active, costs of pacifying rebellions of other Indian
nations began to increase dramatically. And we can observe the very
beginning of conflict between the “soldiers faction”
and the “priests faction”. Army
wanted to conquer new lands, while Incas close to the Court and priests
tried to get some extra privileges from the king, destroying this way
the equality among the Inca class. Sooner or later this conflict have
to launch a civil war between feudal
factions and it was.
After the death of old king Huayna Capac, prince Atahualpa (soldiers faction) started the coup d’etat against the first son of old king, a new king Huascar (priests faction). Atahualpa defeated his brother and imprisoned in Cuzco (Cusco). But that was probably the last victory of soldiers faction - next Inca king would have no resources to continue the expansion. The side effect of the war was that the empire was rebelled, and some provinces still supported the legal king. And exactly in this moment (1532) the expedition of Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru in Tumbes (or Tumbez).
Again, Pizarro have also a great dose of god
Second, Indian nations of the Inca Empire (and also some tribes from Columbia) had legends about white, bearded god called Viracocha, Kon-Tiki (Con Tiqui) or Pachacamac, very similar to the legend of Quetzalkoatl. Probably the main difference was that prophecies about Viracocha said: he will return from the north or from Pacific Ocean.
Pizarro had even the smaller army than Cortes. About 300
soldiers, but better equipped and with more horses. Realizing that the
Inca Empire is in the middle of civil war, Pizarro marched south,
hoping to conquer the kingdom the same way like Cortes did. Partisans
of Huascar tried to got an alliance with him, but Pizarro didn’t answer
yes or no, to have options (of alliance) open.
In the city of Cajamarca
Spaniards met 30 000 Incas army leaded by Atahualpa. The negotiations
started. Cortes invited the king to the meeting, and when the
procession of 2000 servants, guardsmen and officials went into
a wall-bordered city square, Spaniards attacked them and kill everybody
but Atahualpa. The great Inca army, now without commanders, fled. Among
Spaniards only Cortes was wounded, when he tried to protect Atahualpa.
Atahualpa was a great commander (and chess player when
imprisoned), administrator, the ruler skilled in intrigues, who had no
problem to kill the whole family of Huascar and many of his
brother’s partisans. Why he went so carelessly right into Pizarro’s
Even if the ruler of the despotic country
does not believe in an officially promoted ideology (like
Atahualpa in prophecies about Viracocha) that ideology limits
his political moves and options. If the ruler (or tyrant) acts
against the official ideology, he would destroy one of the key-elements
that support his rule. This would force him to use (more costly)
brute-force methods for protecting his rule.
This is an
universal principle: compare (for example) one of the reasons
why Saddam Hussein in 2002
could not admit that he had no WMD (weapon of mass destruction) at all
- such confession would destroy his ideoloogy of “New Saladin who fights
against Western Crusaders” - ironically true Saladin (Salah-ad-Din) was
The battle of Cajamarca was really the end of the Inca Empire.
Spaniards imprisoned the Emperor, and got significant reinforcements
when copartner of Pizarro (Pisarro), captain Almagro,
landed in Peru. Atahualpa tried to save his kingdom secretly ordering
to kill Huascar (which not stopped the civil war), and trying
to get the freedom paying Spaniards with gold. Very soon important
Inca armies and cities capitulated and Spaniards killed Atahualpa.
After some time Pizarro (Pisarro) and Almagro started to fight
other. This war between Spaniards gave Incas a chance to start a
rebellion against Spanish rule. Indians were adopting Spanish
very fast: they used cavalry and gunpowder weapons (taught by Spanish
renegades). But there was now too many Spaniards in Peru, and most of
Indian peasants were not interested to die for Incas, so the rebellion
was unsuccessful. But remains of Inca Kingdom survived in Vilcapampa (mountain region close to
Machu Picchu) for many years.
Let’s assume this not happened:
America would be probably very soon discovered by Portuguese
(Brasilia) or English (New Foundland) sailors. Other European countries
(England, France, maybe Netherlands) would probably gain large colonies
in the New World. Indian Empires would be conquered anyway, but maybe
by different countries. Large colonies of England would launch the
diffusion powers inside the kingdom - according to the law of
connected vessels -
which would stop the evolution of political institutions in England
(the same way like in Spain, as it was said above). And England would
not became a democratic
state in 1689 but many years after. This, of course, would delay the
And there would be no large, democratic country of United States, because USA grew on British capitals and technology. Well, there would be some large state in North America, because the river Mississippi and system of Great Lakes are the natural trade backbone for a great country (the same way as rivers Dniepr and Volga and lakes Illmen and Ladoga for Russia), but it would be a populistic country. With two great populistic states: one in Russia and second in North America a nuclear war in the second half of XXth century would be probably inevitable.
Warsaw, 8 July 2004
Last revision: August-September 2006
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|MECHANICS OF HISTORY - laws to understand the histtory|