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7. PARADISE

The city looked like paradise to the European strangers.

Huge, white temples gleamed against green gardens. The city was set on a lake and it was criss crossed by canals.

8. A WELL ORGANISED PLACE

Mexico city was like a well organised ant heap. It was teeming with busy people. There was a constant coming and going of boats on the canals.

The mass of the people lived in low, windowless, flat roofed houses. Only the rich were allowed to build 2-storey homes.

9. CLEAN & HEALTHY

The local authorities kept the huge city clean. Every day 1000 men swept and washed the thoroughfares.

Boats took garbage to the edge of the town where it was dumped on the marshes.

It was so healthy that it was never attacked by epidemics - until the Spanish came.

10. A FATAL FLAW

But this Aztec society had one fatal flaw. It was geared to continual war - it needed a constant supply of human captives to sacrifice to its barbaric gods.

So the handful of Spaniards were able to get the support of the defeated but resentful neighbours of the Aztecs. With their help, the Spaniards destroyed the Mexican civilisation.

11. THE END OF MEXICO CITY

The Aztecs fought bitterly to defend their splendid city against the Spaniards and their allies. In the end hundreds of thousands of their corpses blocked the canals and alleys of the burning city.

But the Aztecs and their city were destroyed. History was never again to see the like of the Aztec City of Paradise.

12. DEATH OF ANOTHER EMPIRE

Across the American continent was the Inca civilisation in Peru.

It was a highly organised society where everyone knew their place. Among this deeply religious people there was no stealing and no famine.

Efficient civil servants took care of everything and the workers kept slogging away at their prescribed labours.

 

13. HOMES FOR YOUNG MARRIEDS

The young marrieds were given a home on marriage - but it was not much of a place. A dark, smelly hovel was provided and government inspectors called twice a year to check that nothing was done to brighten up the place.

It was considered that any home decoration would take the people's minds off their work.

14. GREAT BUILDERS

The Incas were, however, marvellous builders with stone.

Their magnificent temples and palaces were constructed without cement. The stones were polished and beaten into shape by having stone balls repeatedly dropped on them.

15. BUT ONE DAY

But one day in 1525 it was reported to the Inca Emperor that off the Peruvian coast had been spotted -

"large floating houses full of bearded Monsters"

The monsters were the Spaniards and that was the beginning of the end for the Incas.

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