How is it possible that in 1521 five-hundred Spanish soldiers defeated the most powerful military force in Middle America? The answer lies not in western firearms, as we have been taught, but rather in the differences between the Aztec and Spanish cultures. Differing concepts of warfare and diplomacy, reinforced by tensions and stresses within the Aztec political system and its supporting religious beliefs, allowed Cortes to systematically gain and hold the military and diplomatic advantages that gave the Spaniards the day, the war, and the continent.
Charles E. Dibble (1909-2002) was an anthropologist, linguist, and scholar specializing in Mesoamerican cultures. He received his master's and doctorate degrees from the Universidad Nacional Autonomo de Mexico and taught at the University of Utah from 1939-1978, where he became a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. Arthur J. O. Anderson (1907-1996) was an anthropologist specializing in Aztec culture and language. He received his MA from Claremont College and his PhD in anthropology from the University of Southern California. He was a curator of history and director of publications at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe and taught at a number of institutions, including San Diego State University, from which he retired.