World civilizations 1500
March 17, 1999


1. Essay form (7%)
2. Tenochtitlan case study (10%)
3. Mozambique case study (13%)
4. Comparison of Tenochtitlan and Mozambique cases (15%)
5. Summary of the gun powder arguments in Stearns (35%)
6. Discussion and critique of gun powder arguments in the light of the Tenochtitlan and Mozambique case studies (20%)


In the past wars were fought to gain land, wealth, and fame. Two such examples of this are the battle of Tenochtitlan and Mozambique. These are two battles that disprove the gun powder superiority theory. Certain countries look to get an advantage, by incorporating such things as guns, canons, and steel armor. Some countries look to gain an advantage through superior numbers. Several Army leaders simply believed they were superior to their adversaries. Such as the case in Tenochtitlan.
The purpose for the invasion of Mexico is not clear however, has stated above it is usually for power, land, or money. In this case Cortes was looking for gold that he hoped he could take from a primitive people. In April 1521Cortes had reached Tenochtitlan. This would mark the beginning of the battle between the Spanish and the Aztec. Before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, a sickness broke out. This epidemic was small pox. Small pox decimated villages. Small pox caused blemishes on people faces, it caused their bodies to become stiff, and made some people unable to move. "And when things were in this state, the Spaniards came..." (Sources, 70 L.). Twelve Spanish boats had come, traveling the coast and looking for places to land. The Spanish managed to get two boats in. It is documented that these boats came in fighting. "There were deaths on both sides, and on both sides captives were taken." (Sources, 70 L.). It is recorded that at the first sight of the Spaniards the natives ran. With the village emptied the Spaniards took as they pleased. As the Spaniards continued they came to a place where the fortress was well fortified. This presented no obstacle as they used their canons to blast down the wall. "and the fourth time finally the wall went to the ground once and for all..." (sources, 70 L.) Once inside, the Tzilacatzin and some other warriors went out to face the oncoming Spaniards. These warriors used nothing more than stones repeal the oncoming Spanish. This sent the Spaniards retreating. Some of these warriors hid in the dense brush, and as the Spaniards came through the warriors ambush them. The Spaniards had come with gunpowder and guns and when ambushed these guns did not help. The selection is not specific but I don't believe the Aztec had guns of any kind. "Then he went and threw a Spaniard down, knocking him to the ground..." (Sources 71 L.). The captives were taken to Yacacolca and sacrificed. Spanish first and all other second. The heads were hung on skull racks facing the East. The Aztec won this battle but it would be short-lived.
The second example is the battle in Mozambique. This is similar to the previously described battle in that the natives seemed fearful at first, and retaliated to win the battle. The Portuguese arrived in the rivers of Cuama in the year 1593. Dom Pedro de Sousa led them. This battle was a retaliation of an earlier battle in which the Zimba had killed one of the Portuguese priests. Dom Pedro de Sousa obtained information about his enemy and quickly raised an army. "... 200 Portuguese and 1500 Kaffirs..." (sources, 65 L.) He also took various pieces of artillery, which he wanted to use on the walls. When this failed he was determined to enter by assault. He had part of the trench filled, through which several of his soldiers were wounded by the arrows being shot from above. The natives also used boiling fat and water, which they poured on the attackers and scalded them. They also used iron hooks, which they would stick through the holes of the wall and grab anyone who came too close and wounded them mortally. Following this encounter the captain ordered his men back to camp so they could rest and tend to the wounded. The captain had an idea that would put his men on an equal ground with the natives. He would