MEXICA is the true story of the death of the great empire of 
      the Aztecs and the birth of a great nation called Mexico via a 
      total clash of radically different civilizations, a war of armies, 
      a war of religions, a war of naked conquest, a war of liberation, 
      and the first media war the world has ever seen.
           In 1519, Hernando Cortes landed on the coast of what is now 
      Mexico with some five hundred soldier, a score horses, and within 
      two years, this force had conquered the enormous empire of the 
      Aztecs and the equally enormous armies of their Emperor, Montezu-
           But it was not superior European arms and the Aztecs fear of 
      the cannon and horses that they had never before seen that allowed 
      Cortes to conquer Mexico against such impossible military odds.  
      By the time he reached the capital of the Mexica, great Tenochti-
      tlan, he commanded not merely five hundred Spaniards, but native 
      armies of scores of thousands who believed he was the god Quetzal-
      coatl returned from across the sea.
           Cortes, his troops, even his cunning and knowledgeable advi-
      sor, scribe, speech-writer and soon-to-be spin doctor, Alvaro de 
      Sevilla, a secret Jew on the run from the Spanish Inquisition, 
      knew nothing of the Aztec empire when they landed on the Mexican 
      shore, save rumors of souls to be won for the Cross and gold for 
      themselves.  The Spaniards didn't speak the language, had no idea 
      a city larger and grander than anything in Europe was less than 
      three hundred miles away.  
           To the Mexica, it was exactly as if aliens from outer space 
      had invaded, out to conquer, possessed of magical weapons, and 
      looking like nothing they had ever seen before.
           Well...not exactly.
           There had been a previous and higher civilization, whose 
      paramount god cum warrior chieftain was in his human incarnation 
      indeed a bearded man with white skin--Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered 
      Serpent.  Quetzalcoatl, the legend went, had departed to the east 
      with a promise to return to rule with his bearded minions, over-
      throw the cruel and rapacious Aztecs and bring about a new golden 
      age. And as far as the Aztecs' subject tribes were concerned, 
      anything would be more golden than what they were presently endur-
      ing.  Not only did the Aztecs tax them severely in the usual 
      manner, they also required tens of thousands of human sacrifices, 
      whose hearts they fed to their war god Huitzilopochtli, and whose 
      choice cuts of meat they ate themselves.
           Montezuma, Emperor of the Empire of the Aztecs, unquestioned 
      lord of all he surveyed, commander of armies of hundreds of thou-
      sands, capable of ordered the hearts of scores of thousands ripped 
      out on the altar of their war god, was nevertheless highly educat-
      ed, sophisticated, and cultivated after the manner of his own 
      people, and a mystic whose sincere and passionate desire to carry 
      out the will of his gods, if only they would tell him what it was, 
      made him something of a vacillator, and an all-powerful ruler who 
      would nevertheless willingly become the vassal of Quetzalcoatl if 
      he came to believe that Cortes was truly that god.
           Cortes and Alvaro knew none of this until Cortes was given a 
      group of female slaves that chanced to include one now known to 
      history as "Duna Marina," consort of the man she made Mexico's 
      conqueror. Daughter of a tribal chieftain, educated princess 

      betrayed and sold into slavery, and passed around from tribe to 
      tribe before being given as tribute to Cortes, she knew the local 
      languages, histories and legends. Marina knew it all 
           Betrayed by her own mother, by her tribe, more pragmatic than 
      vengeful, brilliantly intelligent, loyal to no one more than to 
      herself, she straightaway latched onto Cortes like a lamprey eel, 
      as interpreter, mistress, and soon much more. 
           Alvaro had been a vizier to the last Moorish sultan, friend 
      of Cortes after his fashion, but no more truly loyal to the King 
      of Spain or the Cross than Marina was to either the Aztec over-
      lords or the tribe than had betrayed her. He and Marina became 
      confidants, occasional secret lovers, and most of all co-conspira-
      tors with Cortes, spin-doctors, speech-writers, who garbed Cortes 
      in the mantle of Quetzalcoatl, the three of them using the return-
      ing god they created to raise a series of insurgent armies from 
      among the subject tribes, beginning a war of Spanish conquest 
      disguised as a war of liberation led by the Feathered Serpent.
           As these armies marched, fought, conquered, moved inland 
      towards the great Valley of Mexico, heartland of the Aztec Empire, 
      the visionary prevaricator Montezuma alternately threatened, 
      attacked with proxy armies, sent lavish tribute in gold which only 
      whetted the Spanish appetite for much more, for he could not 
      decide whether he was confronting an alien enemy to destroy or a 
      returning god whose will must be obeyed.
           In end, Cortes and his armies entered the great and magnifi-
      cent city of Tenochtitlan without having to ever confront the 
      mighty armies of Montezuma himself in battle, welcomed as honored 
      guests by the subtle but vacillating emperor but also effectively 
      made prisoners in an impregnable fortress city in the center of a 
           When Cortes finally realized he had been cozened into enter-
      ing this lavish prison, he hatched a plot to take Montezuma cap-
      tive within the palace that the emperor had given the Spaniards.  
      Who was the prisoner and who the jailer?  Who now now really 
           The Aztec princes decided that it was neither, and they and 
      their armies, priests, and tribesmen, rose up against both the 
      Spaniards and their allies and the captive emperor Cortes had made 
      his puppet, and what followed was a long, bloody war, a total war, 
      a war of conquest and resistance, with the Spaniards forthrightly 
      there to conquer for King and Cross and the Aztecs fighting to 
      prevent not only destruction of their entire civilization but 
      their gods themselves, a ruthless no-quarter Holy War, in which, 
      as far as both sides were concerned, with their very gods fighting 
      for the world they knew with them.
           Cortes was a sincere Christian out to convert the heathens 
      and so save their souls from eternity in hell but just as sincere 
      a sophist, able to convince himself that since he was serving the 
      cause of his god, that god was serving his quest for conquest and 
           Montezuma was just as sincere a believer in his own gods, who 
      not only fed them human hearts and his own blood as well, but 
      sought to learn their will so that he could faithfully carry it 
      out, even if it mean surrendering his empire to an invader, even 
      if it meant his own death, even if it meant the passing of the 
      entire world as he knew it.
           If this all too familiar in our post 9/11 world, in a very 
      real sense it is, for while history does not really repeat itself, 

      historical patterns do, and when two human civilizations at dif-
      ferent levels of technological and particularly military develop-
      ment, worshipping different gods, harboring different worldviews, 
      and so different beliefs and moralities at the deepest level of 
      consciousness, confront each other, such a clash of civilizations 
      is inevitable and a war of cultural extermination or survival, 
      alas, almost as inevitable. 
           Is this story then a triumph or a tragedy?
           The victors write the history and the Conquest of Mexico is 
      usually written as the triumph of European civilization and Chris-
      tianity over heathen barbarism, of Cortes over Montezuma, of New 
      Spain over the Aztec Empire.
           And so it was.  Hernando Cortes became a hero and ruler of 
      New Spain and his consort became Dona Marina, a great Spanish lady 
      who bore him children.  Montezumas vacillations lost him an empire 
      that might otherwise have been preserved by his superior military 
      forces and the gods he believed he was obeying were cast down.  
      Cortes and Marinas triumph was Montezumas tragedy.
           And yet....
           Alvaro, confidant and adviser to Cortes on his path of con-
      quest, confident and friend of Montezuma during his captivity, 
      came to understand both worlds from the outside as a man truly 
      believing in neither, but sympathetic in his sardonic manner to 
      both, survived the sack of Tenochtitlan, retreated to a small 
      village high on a volcano, to write down the true tale, as 
      penance, as expiation for his part in bringing it all about.
           And there he remained for the rest of his life, long enough 
      to see something new being born below in the conquered land, 
      something that was neither the Aztec Empire nor a conquered Span-
      ish province called New Spain, but in the end the coming together 
      of both into something more complex and deeper than either.
           A unique culture and a great nation calling itself Mexico.