Carved heart, blood and soul. How the Indians were recognized as “real people”

485 years ago, on June 2, 1537, Pope Paul III issued a bull called Sublimus Deus, which can be roughly translated as “God Exalted”. With this document, the supreme pontiff announced to the entire Catholic world that the Indians of South America — are quite real people. People who are not only endowed with an immortal soul, but also “able to understand, and also extremely willing to accept the teachings of Christ.”

Are you a man or what?

Forty-five years have passed since the discovery of the New World. Of which at least forty colonization of Central and South America was in full swing. Behind him was already the conquest of the Aztec empire — Fernando Cortes visited there back in 1519 and completed the job two years later. As well as the conquest of the Inca Empire — Francisco Pissarroappeared there in 1531 and by 1536, by and large, had finished what he had begun. In general, because part of the people hid in hard-to-reach areas, and the issue was finally resolved only in 1572, when Tupac Amara — the last ruler of the Incas was beheaded.

However, the terms “conquest” and even more so “subjugation” not entirely correct. These states simply ceased to exist. As well as the civilization and culture of the Incas and Aztecs ceased to be. The fact that the Indians were recognized as real people with an immortal soul only after all this, at first glance, testifies to the amazing hypocrisy of the Europeans. Say, first they ruined the highest civilizations, and then they wanted to become kind. Although at their core — terrible xenophobes, bringing death and destruction to everything that differs from their ideas about culture and civilization. True, it is often forgotten that the representatives of these civilizations also doubted that the Spaniards «real people». But a little differently. The Spaniards thought that the Indians had no soul, and the Indians believed that the Spaniards had no… body. In any case, the real — is known that an evil spirit can take on a human form! In short, the Spaniards were taken prisoner, killed in a special way and watched the corpses — if it decomposes, then like a real person. And if there is no — evil spirit…

«And everywhere — blood and blood»

In a word, the civilizations are still the same. If you look at their achievements properly, it will turn out that, compared with Europe or Asia, they were hopelessly backward. In military, economic and domestic terms, they, in fact, were in a state of the Neolithic, that is, the New Stone Age. As a last resort — of the Copper Stone Age. Well, except that the Incas mastered the production of bronze tools and weapons and managed to move into the Bronze Age. Which, however, never reached its peak — stone tools still prevailed.

City of the Incas. Photo from the archive of Maxim Bogatyrev

Nobody argues — these are already well-established civilizations with a developed economy and crafts, with cultivated plants and domestic animals, with impressive architecture and road construction… But the Old World all this passed during the time of Sumer and early Egypt, that is, somewhere 4 thousand years before the discovery of America, and all these achievements among Europeans could not arouse either admiration, respect, or, moreover, a desire to imitate.

But also the desire to wipe — from the face of the earth too. In the end, Finnish tribes lived in the far north of Europe, who, in general, did not go far from this economic and domestic way of life, and in some ways, for example, in agriculture and architecture, they were completely inferior to the Indians.

The desire to wipe out all these civilizations from the face of the earth caused something completely different. Specifically — religion and social structure of the same Aztec empire. The conquistador Bernal Diaz who accompanied Cortes kept diaries, which later became the book “The True Story of the Conquest of New Spain”. Here are his impressions of how Montezuma II, the leader of the Aztecs and the “emperor of the world”, invited the Europeans, who were revered as messengers of the god Quetzalcoatl, to visit the temples of their people: “At each altar there was a giant idol, with very tall bodies and very massive. The first one on the right hand, they said, was the idol of Huitzilopochtli, their god of war, his face and nose were very wide, and his eyes were ugly and fierce… And there was so much dried blood on the walls, and the whole floor was covered with it, and even in the slaughterhouses of Castile there was no such stench. And there were five hearts presented to this idol, sacrificed that day. There were also many other devilish things — large and small pipes, all kinds of sacrificial knives made of stone, a lot of charred, wrinkled hearts of Indians. And everywhere — blood and blood!»

Aztecs. Human sacrifice shown in the Code Magliabecca Photo: Commons.wikimedia.org

It was not even half the trouble, but about a quarter. Half the trouble came when the Spaniards found out, and Diaz wrote down exactly how the Aztecs made human sacrifices and what they then did with the bodies: “They cut their chests with flint knives, rummaged there, tore out their hearts. They offered heart and blood to their idols… They cut off the legs, arms and head, legs and arms were eaten at festivities and feasts, and the head was hung up, strung on a pole between the pillars. The torso of the sacrificed was not eaten, but thrown to wild beasts…»

Montezuma II oversees the execution. Commons.wikimedia.org

When death receded

And the real trouble came when Cortes, as the “messenger of God” asked for an end to human sacrifice and cannibalism. The answer was arrogant: “For us, they are — good gods, and therefore we worship them, make sacrifices. I beg you to leave any bold word in the future!»

What happened next can indeed be characterized by the word “massacre”. And it repeated itself over and over again. The Spaniards violently eradicated the custom of human sacrifice and cannibalism. And — yes, the custom was almost always eradicated along with its bearer. And also with the addressee of the victim — many and many temples of «devil idols» were destroyed and burned.

Yes, very similar to intolerance and xenophobia. True, the Indians themselves demonstrated the same, if not greater, intolerance and xenophobia. No, not the Aztecs, but the conquered, subordinate tribes, which just supplied the “human material” for sacrifices. Realizing that the terrible order of the Aztec empire had cracked, the leaders of these tribes joined Cortes as a savior. Actually, the Spaniards as such physically could not “conquer” a huge empire — there were only about 500 of them. The empire simply collapsed, and the process of its collapse can be called an uprising of enslaved Indians, led by the Spaniards, against their Aztec tormentors.

So the answer to the question “do the Indians have an immortal soul?” was given in a timely manner. Approximately when it became clear that not all Indians make bloody human sacrifices and that most of the tribes agree even now to be baptized and accept Spanish citizenship — if only for the reason that after that their children were no longer threatened with death under a stone knife on the sacrificial table.
 

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