1697 – The last Mayan city is defeated by the Spanish

Nojpetén (also known as Tayasal) was the capital city of the Itza Maya kingdom, located in what is now Guatemala. It was the last Mayan capital city to fall to the Spanish in their conquest of the Petén region. After the conquest, the Spanish recorded that it had 21 temples, including a step pyramid of similar size and design to the one in Chichen Itza. These were almost all destroyed, and the Mayan culture was largely eradicated by the conquerors.

The Spanish committed a form of cultural genocide – although we know that the Maya were a highly literate culture, only three books survived the fires made of them by missionaries who believed it was their holy mission to save these primitive heathens. The Maya also had a highly developed system of timekeeping, with a calendar that had been calculated as far in advance as 2012 – leading many to assume, wrongly, that the Maya believed history would end then, rather than that date simply being where the work had ended.

Referenced in:
People of the Sun — Rage Against The Machine

1968 — The Tet Offensive commences

The Tet Offensive – so-called because it began during the Tet Festival of 1968 – was a major offensive mounted by North Vietnamese forces that spanned nine months of 1968. Its primary goal was to inspire uprisings behind South Vietnamese lines, but in this respect, and in most traditional military respects, it failed. The offensive over-estimated Vietcong capabilities, especially in terms of arms and manpower, and under-estimated the resolve, mobility and firepower of American and South Vietnamese forces. Particular battles of the campaign were fought at Hue and Khe Sanh in January 1968, while later attacks would involve infiltration behind American lines, even striking in Saigon.
However, it was a major propaganda victory for the Vietcong in America, as the attack came as a complete surprise and demonstrated just how much America as a whole had under-estimated their foe. The Tet Offensive and the heavy casualties it inflicted – both among the American and allied forces, and among the civilian population – made the war in Vietnam a major issue in the 1968 Presidential election, and spurred opposition to the war among the American public.

Ultimately, the results of the Tet Offensive can only be seen as inconclusive. Both sides took heavy casualties, but little territory was lost on either side, and both sides soon reinforced. The war itself would drag on for another seven years before North Vietnam finally achieved victory.

Referenced in:
People of the Sun — Rage Against The Machine