Meet Josefina – Aztecs, Cortez, Conquistadors and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Aztec Civilization & Hernando Cortez

Aztec Empire was founded in the 12th century in the southern part of North America, in the valley of Mexico. The main city was Tenochtitlan, today’s Mexico City, which had about 60,000 households by the time when Spanish Conquistadors entered it. Aztec’s civilization was an advanced one in the areas of astronomy, mathematics, sanitation system, aqueducts. Click on the pictures to watch videos of Aztecs inventions and ingenuity.

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Hernando Cortez was born in Spain and after dropping off from the University of Salamanca at the age 19 decided to travel to Hispaniola (today’s Dominican Republic and Haiti). He married and became quiet wealthy. In 1518, when he was in his early 30’s he was commissioned to explore the land of Mexico. He gathered 500 men, 10 canons, 16 horses and tried to ignite in them Conquistador’s (in Spanish conquistadores means conquerors; this word was used to describe soldiers and explorers) zeal.

Every place where Cortez reached he would always first try to persuade the people to give up their idols and gods. He would ask his companions, priests and friars, to speak to the people and to celebrate Mass and prayers publicly, in order for the natives to see the difference in worship. Some of the tribes were curious, some were just laughing out loud in his face. They didn’t understand the strange demand of worshipping one foreign God and leaving all of their religious traditions and beliefs behind. But most of them would listen, ask question and come to the Catholic services. The most amazing thing that the natives saw for the first time in their life were the horses. Initially they thought that the horses and people were one creature, and some would believe that the horses had divine powers and were afraid of them.

There were also tribes who would pretend to be friendly and attack Cortes’ army later on. Nevertheless, Cortes made his way toward the Aztec’s capital and the king of the powerful Aztec Empire had to allow Cortez to enter. Why was he so lenient and didn’t fight? One of the reason was that Aztecs repeated a prophecy about Quetzalcoatl:

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Cortez was cautiously welcomed by Montezuma, and given highest honor and access to all things in the kingdom. Spaniards were already acquainted with human sacrifices to the Sun-god, but what they’ve seen in the capital astonished them. Montezuma alone, being a priest, sacrificed one person a day and it’s been known that for consecration of one of the newest temples he sacrificed 20,000 people. The custom of ripping the beating heart of and chopping their head off was considered by Cortez as Satanic, not just pagan. The talks between Cortez and Montezuma were long and interesting but any mention of religious practices became taboo. Seeing their weakening king and next groups of attacking Spaniards, the Aztecs demanded new king. But even new ruler wasn’t able to rescue the city from violence. At the end, Aztecs were conquered, and Mexico city was mostly destroyed.

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Spanish priests and monks started their missions among the Aztecs and surrounding tribes. Soon after Our Lady revealed herself to a poor peasant. The amazing story and miracles of Our Lady of Guadalupe started an enormous process of converting doubting Indians. Soon millions of them were being baptized.

Mexican Bean Salad

We have learned about the ways of preparing and cooking beans. Then we’ve made Mexican Bean Salad, pictured below, and it was delicious. Click on the picture to see the recipe we’ve used. We used only half of the vinegar. Video is here.

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Meat Josefina

1. Josefina lives in New Mexico, part of Mexico which in her time didn’t belong to the United States. Daily life.

2. Answering questions for Book 1: Josefina Book 1 Questions


1. After or during reading Book 2 answer questions for Book 2 (in your folder): 2 – Josefina Learns a Lesson – Questions

2. Memorize Scripture for Week 2 (in your folder): Josefina – The Virtue of Justice – Scriptures

4. New! Starting with this session we will have a point system added to our classes. Each:

writing assignment

reading sheet (new element)

book report (new element)

poetry/Bible/Catechism memorization (new element)

map work or illustration done at home

speech/presentation/show and tell

class participation

historical facts & dates memorization (new element)

will be rewarded with a point system materialized in tickets that girls will gather during each class. At the end of each six-week session we will have an “American Girl” store where the tickets can be redeemed for small prizes.

There are four books about the saints in South America that are corresponding with our studies for this session. All kinds of book reports are welcomed. All book reports are due on Week 5 and will be presented during our siesta party in Week 6. 


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