Hugh Thomas is the author of The Spanish Civil War, Cuba: The Pursuit of Liberty, Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico, and, most recently, The Slave Trade. (April 1998)

Remember the Maine?

Cortés, during his campaign to conquer the ancient empire of the Mexica—the word which anthropologists would now have us use when we talk of the Aztecs—wrote to the emperor Charles V that he hoped to offer him an empire as great as the one he already had in Germany. As …