The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas

The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas

The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas

The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas

Excerpt

When the news of Cortés's exploits in Mexico suddenly burst upon the world in 1519, man in Europe had almost forgotten the very existence of an America. This was understandable. During the years that had passed since its discovery America had provided only false hopes. It had been expected that new foodstuffs would pour out unrestrainedly from the "spiceries" to relieve the monotony of European diet. Broadsides affixed to walls had proclaimed the discovery and books had told of "Joyful Newes out of the Newe Founde Worlde." "of rare and singular vertues of divers Herbes, of Trees and Plantes of Oyles and stones . . ." Even the discoverer of it all, Cristóbal Colón, now Admiral of the Ocean Sea, had fed the illusions by talking without stint of gold, rubies, and silver, which were to be found there more abundantly than in King Solomon's mines.

In anticipation of such riches, a convention between Spain and Portugal early in the discovery had, with the Pope's blessing, divided the Americas; the New World was to be shared between them in exclusivity. The King of France, witty François I, asked ". . . that clause in Adam's will which allowed the kings of Castille and Portugal to divide the earth between them . . ." But his irony availed him nothing and these two kingdoms soon settled themselves into the New World. Europe had waited with a certain breathlessness, one gathers from reading the contemporary accounts, and people expected the floodgates of plenty to open up. But, at best, the opening was a timorous settling; the Portuguese merely touched Brazil, and the Spanish confined themselves for the first twenty years to a small piece of the Isthmus of Panama and to the islands of the Antilles. Here was found nothing of the riches so highly vaunted by the original discoverers. Europeans dismissed "America" as yet one more instance of Spanish braggadocio--until there arrived in Seville, on December 9, 1519, the first treasure ship from Mexico.

Its arrival caused a tremendous sensation. Cortés had sent four fantastically attired Totonacs from the Mexican coast to accompany the treasures, and in the golden cache there were bells and jewels, earrings and nose ornaments of exquisite workmanship, and feather ornaments mounted in jewels, and there were even "books such as the Indiana use." But that which stirred most was a golden wheel seventy-nine inches in diameter, of a thickness of "four reales, . . ."

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