Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Last Aztec

This documentary series takes an anything but common look at a well known story...the Spanish invasion and colonisation of Mexico. DBC Pierre takes us on a journey through modern-day Mexico as he tries to get to the bottom of how a small group of Spanish invaders were able to conquor a mighty empire. So who is DBC Pierre?

DBC Pierre (born 1961 in South Australia, Australia) is a writer. Born Peter Warren Finlay, the "DBC" part of his nom-de-plume (normally so written, without punctuation) stands for "Dirty But Clean". "Pierre" was a nickname bestowed on him by childhood friends after a cartoon character of that name. Pierre was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction on 14 October 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little. He is the third Australian to be so honoured, although he has told the British press that he prefers to consider himself a Mexican.

"Mexico, with its contrasts, its crushing poverty and sparkling wealth, its institutionalised corruption and cultural wisdom, its love of life and its embracing of death, undoubtedly set me on a path toward the deep end, philosophically and emotionally speaking." – DBC Pierre


Early in the 14th century, a city rose from snake-infested waters, built by the Tenocha tribe who came to be known as the Aztecs. Their city was the capital of Mexico - Tenochtitlan.

When Hernan Cortes led the Spanish Conquistadors to Mexico in 1519, the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma believed the invaders to be gods, fulfilling the prophecy of the return of the feathered serpent deity, Quetzalcoatl. The long held belief that this prophecy signified the end of the Aztec empire coincided with the arrival of the Spanish. Moctezuma in his confusion, offered gifts from the vast treasure troves of gold, sourced from mines that have now disappeared, but failed to deter the Conquistadors as they made their way to Tenochtitlan.

The Spaniards received a warm welcome when they eventually arrived but were wary because of the sacrificial bloodshed they saw as they travelled to meet Moctezuma. However they were overcome by the beauty and splendour of the city. The Aztecs were amazed at the sight of the Spaniards who were paler with long white beards, rode on horseback, and had guns and a cross - none of which they had ever experienced.


When the Spaniard Cortes and his men marched on the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, they hoped they would find Moctezuma's gold and untold riches. But they had no idea what was in store for them. Following the meeting of Emperor Moctezuma and Cortes, they were housed in a splendid palace and lavished with gifts.

Cortes came to realise that the Aztecs lived in a strangely innocent world, a magical realm that was to be their undoing. He put his knowledge to good use and in a bold move, imprisoned the emperor in his own palace. The monarch fell, surrendering his power and wealth to become a puppet of the Spaniards.

On May 13, 1521, it is thought that Moctezuma died from a blow to the head from a rock thrown by one of his subjects. Overnight, his body, magical entourage and most spectacularly of all, his vast well-documented gold-laden treasure-disappeared. No trace of Moctezuma was ever found. Presenter and best-selling author DBC Pierre visited a location believed to hold the key to this mystery, but came away none the wiser.

More documentaries like this...

The Kogi - From the Heart of the World

Clash of the Worlds

The Crusades - the Cresent & the Cross

An Islamic History of Europe

Shamans of the Amazon

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Hello Scott,

This is not about this video it's actually a request for a documentary. It's called Ten Commandments of the Mafia. I saw it on tv on Sunday on the Discovery Channel, but I had to go to work so I didn't see all of it. I'm hoping you can get a hold of it and post it, it's really interesting. Thanks!