Tag: aztecs

The Rise of the Conquistador


The European discovery of the Americas and the subsequent colonization of that land by Europeans was the most consequential occurrence of the last millennia.  Two men prominent in that discovery’s opening events were Christopher Columbus and Hernando Cortés.

“Sword of Empire: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas from Columbus to Cortés, 1492-1529,” by Donald E. Chipman, tells the story of these two men. It explores the events of the first forty years of the Spanish acquisition of the American possessions.

Columbus opened the Age of Exploration. Cortés opened the Age of the Conquistador, where Spanish freebooters conquered the great empires of North and South America. Together the men form a set of bookends in the story of the Americas. Columbus departed the New World for the last time in 1504, dying in 1506. Cortés arrived at Santo Domingo, the colony founded by Columbus in the year of Columbus’s death.  This allows Chipman to follow the thread of the opening years of Spain’s American adventures using these two as his focus.

The Pagan Origins of Popular Christmas Songs


Amidst all the debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, or this or that song should or should not be played over the holiday season, or even over whether Christmas started as a pagan holiday, I thought it important to bring some historical perspective to the matter.  You see, most people are actually woefully historically ignorant of some of the most pernicious of pagan customs that have not only found their way into modern culture, but were deliberately planted there.  And so I have here marked out just some of the more blatant examples.

Last Christmas, by Wham.  This song’s origins as an Aztec sacrificial lament are encoded right there in the chorus for all to hear.  Of course, the setting is more modern (Aztecs not having access to modern drum sets, or Boy George for that matter), but the lyrics and the melody are lifted right from ancient writing found on numerous Aztec temples throughout Meso-America.  The holiday of “Christmas” was simply swapped out from the more ancient Aztec term for Winter Solstice, which is primarily why the new version needed a 4/4 drum beat, instead of the older Aztec 17/7 beat, which was ideally suited for the rhythmic plunging of obsidian blades.  Thus in its original, the chorus reads: