Aztec king Cuauhtémoc was executed today in 1525 by Hernán Cortés’s Spanish forces in what is now southern Campeche, Mexico. Now WE know em

This is a reblog from Now We Know Em, a blog I’ve just discovered. Cuauhtémoc is regarded as the last ruler of the Aztec, though this depends on who you ask. His reign was short and followed Montezuma II’s. You’ll learn more if you read on!

I’ve been looking for some good material to reblog regarding the Age of Exploration / Discovery. If you know of any, send it my way, either in an e-mail or to my Facebook page.

Statue of Cuauhtémoc in Mexico City. Statue of Cuauhtémoc in Mexico City.

Cuauhtémoc was the Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan from 1520 to 1521.

The name Cuāuhtemōc means “One That Has Descended Like an Eagle”, commonly rendered in English as “Descending Eagle” as in the moment when an eagle folds its wings and plummets down to strike its prey, so this is a name that implies aggressiveness and determination.

Cuauhtémoc took power in 1520 as successor of Cuitláhuac and was a cousin of the former emperor Moctezuma II.

His young wife, who would later be known as Isabel Moctezuma, was one of Moctezuma’s daughters.

He ascended to the throne when he was 25 years of age, as his city was being besieged by the Spanish and devastated by an epidemic of smallpox brought to the New World by Spanish invaders.

Once upon the throne, Cuauhtémoc unsuccessfully called for reinforcements from the countryside to aid the defense of…

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Lope de Aguirre: You Have to Earn the Nickname “El Loco”

Etching of Lope de Aguirre, date and artist unknown.

Etching of Lope de Aguirre, date and artist unknown.

This is the first post in the Age of Discovery Series lasting throughout March.

Lope de Aguirre is one of the more infamous conquistadors of the many thousands of men from all over Europe who set out in service of the Spanish Crown in search of adventure, fame and, most importantly, wealth. His biography ticks all the boxes for adventure and exploits. He went down in a blaze of glory after failing to achieve every conquistador’s dream of getting wealthy. His unstable nature, paranoia and numerous murders earned him the nickname “El Loco”, Spanish for the madman.

Aguirre was born in the early 1500’s in the Basque region of Oñati. Born of a minor noble family, but not being the firstborn son and, thus, not expecting much of an inheritance, Aguirre did what many men of that age did, he agreed to go to the New World. He would spend the rest of his life there.

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That’s No Beggar, That’s Gaudí, or A Street Car Named Expire

Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Photo by  Marek Holub via Wikimedia Commons.

Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Photo by Marek Holub via Wikimedia Commons.

On June 7, 1926, a ragged beggar crossed the street in Barcelona, the bustling Catalan metropolis on the Mediterranean coast. Perhaps he was lost in thought, or perhaps the street car was somehow at fault. The man was struck and lost consciousness. Due to his ragged condition and lack of identification, he was left to his fate by the passersby.

Eventually, a police officer reluctantly decided to do something about the situation and took the bum to a nearby hospital where he received the most basic treatment. The following day, the chaplain of the Sagrada Família church, the beggar’s life’s work, recognized him, but it was too late. His previously untreated condition had deteriorated and he would go on to die on the 10th of June.

If you couldn’t gather from the title (apologies for the horrible pun), the beggar was no beggar at all, but was indeed Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, one of the most famous, if over-the-top, architects known to man. He was already in his 70’s at the time, but seemed otherwise healthy, was still working on his all-consuming life’s passion, the aforementioned Sagrada Família, and there really is no telling how long he would have carried on.

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War Paint (Part 5): The Third of May 1808

Part 5 in a 10 part series.

Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 is an iconic painting by one of the great masters. The image depicts the execution of prisoners following the Dos de Mayo Uprising in Madrid against Napoleon’s invading forces. The events form part of the Peninsular War. Napoleon was invited into Spain by the Spanish King Charles IV. The pretext was that the two nations would conquer and divide up Portugal. Napoleon had other ideas and the expeditionary force showed no signs of leaving.

On May 2nd, the population of Madrid took to arms. Oddly enough, this is the second painting in a row in this series to deal with an uprising against Napoleonic occupational forces. Once unrest was inevitable, the French gave the order that anyone involved was to be shot. Fighting broke out in the city and the French forces quickly put it down. Some hundred or so French soldiers were killed along with numerous Madrileños.

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Belchite: A Truly Haunting Monument

Church of San Martin de Tours, Old Town Belchite. Photo by JOMISAG via wikimedia commons.

Church of San Martin de Tours, Old Town Belchite. Photo by JOMISAG via wikimedia commons.

The mere concept of a ghost town fascinates people. The idea that a thriving town could one day cease to have any value, to the point where it becomes completely abandoned, is confronting.

How many of them actually have ghosts? I don’t mean in the metaphysical sense, but in the skeletons in the closet, bad things happened here sort of way. Belchite, 40km from Zaragoza in Spain’s Aragon region, is one such place.

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Miguel de Cervantes: International Man of Action

Portrait of Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra from a copper engraving from Johann Heinrich Lips.

Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra from a copper engraving by Johann Heinrich Lips.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is one of the most famous authors ever to grace our fair orb. His masterpiece, Don Quixote, should place in any respectable list of the greatest novels written, is the first modern European novel (if you believe Wikipedia) and is to the Spanish language what Shakespeare is to English. The image of the title character waging war on windmills is an enduring one and the word quixotic has entered our lexicon, though I challenge you to use in in everyday life. The book has inspired artwork, a ballet, musicals, numerous films and the Donkey Hodie puppet character from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Cervantes’ work is renowned, but the exploits of his life have gone mostly untold outside of Spain. This post is about his life, not his life’s work.

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