Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was an inevitable consequence of the meeting of two distinct worlds: one "progressive" and Iberian and the other "backward" and Mesoamerican.16 Sahagun's narrative, written from an indigenous point of view and based, in part, on the recollections of indigenous peoples, nonetheless highlighted the First, their weapons and armor were better than the Aztecs'. They started a Spanish colony that they named New Spain. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in Mexico was considered a turning point in the history of the Americas. The two became known as the Catholic Monarchs, with their marriage a personal union that created a relationship between the Crown of Aragon and Castile, each with their own administrations, but ruled jointly by the two monarchs. To this day, La Malinche is heralded as a revolutionary by some while being viewed as a traitor by others. Directed by Salvador Carrasco. Between 1519 and 1521, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztec Empire. The Spanish tried to change the Aztecs into Catholics and make them act like Spanish people. On May 20, Pedro de Alvarado, who had been left in charge, ordered the massacre of unarmed nobles attending a religious festival, The enraged inhabitants of the city besieged the Spanish and even Montezuma's intervention could not alleviate the tension. All three cultures were located on the shores and islands of Lake Texcoco. From 1518-1521, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his army brought down the mighty Aztec Empire, the greatest the New World had ever seen. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was one of the most significant events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. [1], Aztec drawing of smallpox victims. Media related to this warfare, the engaged Aztec and Spanish people involved, and including those related to the subjection of Aztecs and their allies after the 1521 Fall of Tenochtitlan. La Malinche’s role as an interpreter and translator would prove to be instrumental in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. Under the leadership of Hernan Cortes in 1521, the Aztec Empire was destroyed. This event is called the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. Conquistadors by Margaret Duncan Coxhead Bad Omens It was an empire that people from Europe had never seen before. In November of 1519, the Spanish entered Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica people and leader of the Aztec Triple Alliance. Cortes sent enough of his men on raiding parties around the city to keep other city-states from coming to the relief of the Aztecs, and on August 13, 1521, when Emperor Cuauhtemoc was captured, resistance ended and the Spanish were able to take the smoldering city. Menu. Between 1519 and 1521, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztec Empire. In short, the European expansion paved the way for a new age, a new beginning, and a major turning point in history. For example:[1][2][4], Because of these things, many people in the Aztec Empire were unhappy. Sahagún was a Franciscan friar who went to New Spain (modern Mexico) in 1529, following the conquest of the Aztec Empire. In 1518, Governor Diego Velazquez of Cuba sponsored an expedition of exploration and settlement and entrusted it to Hernan Cortes. Spanish Conquest of the Americas Movies. They started a siege of Tenochtitlan, so that no food or supplies could get in. In July 1520 the Spanish survivors fled to Tlaxcala, where enemies of the Aztecs protected them. The Spanish Conquest impacted the Aztec society’s beliefs and way of life. It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. By August 1521, three Mexica emperors were dead or captured, the city of Tenochtitlan was in … The Spanish demanded all sorts of loot and food and while Montezuma did nothing, the people and warriors of the city began to get restless. The literature, both published and unpublished, of the 16th century is enormous and takes in all aspects of Aztec culture. However, workers were badly abused, and many died. Many received an Encomienda, a village full of Aztecs who were forced to work for them. Some of them helped the Spanish conquistadors take over the Empire. The Spanish colony of New Spain was established and the Aztec Empire had ended. In 1519, the tlatoani of the Mexica was Motecuzoma Xocoyotzín, better known to history as Montezuma. The Aztec Empire had ended.[3]. [6] Aztec legends said that Quetzalcoatl would return as a man, and Cortés had arrived on Quetzalcoatl's birthday. Historians often disagree on the impact, both positive and negative, that the Spanish had on Aztec civilization. The expedition was also partially included in the animated film The Road to El Dorado a… The conquest of Tenochtitlan and the subsequent consolidation of Spanish domination over the former Aztec Empire was the first major possession in what became the Spanish Empire. In October, Cortes and his men and allies passed through the city of Cholula, home of the cult to the god Quetzalcoatl. Through alliances, wars, intimidation, and trade, the Aztecs came to dominate most of the other Mesoamerican city-states by 1519 and collected tribute from them. Moctezuma is remembered today mainly as the Aztec ruler who lost his empire to a European power, although this is an unfair assessment of him. Five hundred years ago, in February of 1519, the Spaniard Hernán Cortés set sail from Cuba to explore and colonize Aztec civilization in the Mexican interior. "The Other Conquest" opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan [what is now called Mexico City]. Seven months before the treaty of Alcaçovas, King John II of Aragon died, and his son Ferdinand II of Aragon, married to Isabella I of Castile, inherited the thrones of the Crown of Aragon. Moctezuma II was the 9 th ruler of the Aztec Empire, whose unfortunate reign coincided with the arrival of the Spanish under the conquistador Hernan Cortez (Hernán Cortés). They were welcomed by Montezuma and put in a sumptuous palace. Cholula was not exactly a vassal of the Aztecs, but the Triple Alliance had much influence there. This victory marked the fall of the Aztec empire. The warlike Tlaxcalans had been enemies of the Aztecs for generations and had held out against their warlike neighbors. By 1680, 94% of the Aztec population had died. [2] Even when the Spanish made Montezuma II a prisoner, the Aztecs stayed friendly. This description is based primarily on written documents from the 16th century but also includes some archaeological data. The rich gifts, meant to buy off the Spanish and make them go away, had the opposite effect: they wanted to see the riches of the Aztecs for themselves. There are many mixed feelings about the impact of the Spaniards in the new world. Cortés helped old enemies of the Aztecs defeat them in one of the most important events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. These were called encomiendas. However, because so many people had died of smallpox, there were also not enough people left to fight against the conquistadors when they did come. Even when the Spanish made Motecuhzoma II a prisoner, the Aztecs stayed friendly. In May 1521, Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán, and after a three-month siege the city fell. [10], The conquistadors rewarded people who had helped them defeat the Aztecs. [4] Their horses and war dogs gave them even more of an advantage against the Aztecs. In 1519, Hernan Cortes and his small army of conquistadors, driven by gold-lust, ambition and religious fervor, began the audacious conquest of the Aztec Empire. In general, the conquest displayed the impact of European exploration on the New World and the outcomes of the Age of Exploration. The ancient prophecy has been fulfilled and the returning lord is invited to occupy his throne and visit the palace. Much of this, however, was destroyed upon the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. His men and Tlaxcalan allies fell on the unarmed nobles, slaughtering thousands. Later, when he saw how much worse African slaves were treated, las Casas changed his mind about this. He spent several decades in the Spanish colony studying Aztec history and mythology, including the supposed omens that Moctezuma II received before the arrival of the Spanish. They kept fighting the conquistadors, and they killed two out of every three Spanish soldiers. However, soon, while Cortés was away, Spanish … The end is near! He did it through a combination of luck, courage, political savvy and advanced tactics and weapons. Every day, Cortes' top lieutenants — Gonzalo de Sandoval, Pedro de Alvarado and Cristobal de Olid — and their men assaulted the causeways leading into the city while Cortes, leading the small navy of brigantines, bombarded the city, ferried men, supplies, and information around the lake, and scattered groups of Aztec war canoes. After two weeks of fighting, the Spanish gained the respect of the Tlaxcalans and in September they were invited to talk. Under this system, the Spanish created mines to mine for gold to export to other countries. This page was last changed on 8 October 2020, at 01:46. Cuauhtámoc, Cuitláhuacs successor as emperor, was taken prisoner and later executed, and Cortés became the ruler of a vast Mexican empire. Nobody did what Montezuma II said. Cortes conquers the Aztecs. [3], However, soon, while Cortés was away, Spanish soldiers attacked and killed many Aztecs during a festival. Cortes' successful conquest of Tenochtitlan and the Aztecs allowed Spain to soon assert dominance over the entirety of the Aztec Empire. There were many different reasons why the Spanish were able to take over the Aztec Empire. Millions of people in 38 provinces paid tribute to the Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1521. The Mexica originated from northern Mexico. English: The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire or the Conquest of México — the warfare from 1519 to 1521, in present day Mexico. Time and again, the Tlaxcalan warriors and porters which accompanied Cortes' expedition would prove their value. The ruler of the Aztecs, Motecuhzoma II, made the Spanish welcome and things were friendly between the Spanish and the Aztecs initially. Spain had finally arrived at the Aztec Empire! In August they marched to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish used Aztec slaves to transport goods from one colony to another colony. The Spanish conquest was devastating to the Aztec people. The relentless pressure proved effective, and the city was slowly worn down. These groups were bound to the Aztecs by ties of trade and tribute but resented their inland masters and tentatively agreed with Cortes to switch allegiances. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the ​Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. The Spanish destroyed Tenochtitlan. Aztec warriors had only cotton armour and shields made of wood or reeds to protect them. Introduction to the Source. He did it through a combination of luck, courage, political savvy and advanced tactics and weapons. After 91 days, without any food, and with disease throughout the city, Cuauhtemoc finally surrendered to the Spanish on August 13, 1521. [11], By 1680, 94% of the Aztec population had died. In 1515, two of the states in the Aztec Empire rebelled. Within a couple of weeks, Montezuma had allowed himself to be taken hostage, a semi-willing "guest" of the intruders. Although Cortes defeated Narvaez and added most of his men to his own army, things got out of hand in Tenochtitlan in his absence. Over the coming years, Spain would conquer much more of the Americas, conquering other major empires like the Incas. While in Tlaxcala, the Spanish received reinforcements and supplies, rested, and prepared to take the city of Tenochtitlan. This sent a powerful message to the rest of Mesoamerica not to trifle with the Spanish. This event is called the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. Most importantly for the Spanish, an epidemic of smallpox broke out in Mesoamerica, slaying millions, including countless warriors and leaders of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs were a primitive people who practiced rituals that were inhumane. By this time, though, the Aztecs had made Montezuma II's brother, Cuauthemoc, the king. Miguel Leon Portilla, a Mexican anthropologist, gathered accounts by the Aztecs, some of which were written shortly after the conquest. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire is not only one of the most significant events in the early exploration and conquest of the Americas, but also one of the most significant events in world history. During the Spaniards retreat, they defeated a large Aztec army at Otumba and then rejoined their Tlaxcaltec allies. The pre-eminent partner in the Triple Alliance was the Mexica city of Tenochtitlan. The conquest of the Aztecs marked a significant period for the Spanish. It was conquered and brought into the Aztec Empire around 1434. This happened for a few reasons:[1], After taking over the Aztec Empire, the Spanish conquistadors moved on to take over other parts of Mesoamerica. On the night of June 30, the Spanish tried to stealthily leave the city, but they were discovered and attacked. Since 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, the Spanish had fairly thoroughly explored the Caribbean by 1518. In 1519, Cortes arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Aztec empire. With Damián Delgado, José Carlos Rodríguez, Elpidia Carrillo, Iñaki Aierra. Entry Into Tenochtitlan and Capture of Montezuma, Aftermath of the Conquest of the Aztec Empire, Important Events in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire, 8 Important Figures in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire, Timeline of Hernan Cortes' Conquest of the Aztecs, Biography of Malinche, Enslaved Woman and Interpreter to Hernán Cortés, Beginner's Guide to the Aztec Empire of Central Mexico. Cortes landed, founded a small settlement and made mostly peaceful contact with leaders of local communities. The Spanish introduced the encomienda system. These include in an episode of Engineering an Empire as well as in the BBC series Heroes and Villains, with Cortés being portrayed by Brian McCardie. However, this time, the rebelling states beat the Aztec military badly. Cortes set sail with several ships and about 600 men, and after a visit to the Maya area of the southern Gulf Coast (it was here that he picked up his future interpreter/mistress Malinche), Cortes reached the area of present-day Veracruz in early 1519. Two years later the conquistadors began their conquest of Mexico, and by August 1521 Tenochtitlan had been destroyed. "[7], Some historians say that the Spanish conquistadors were not the only reason the Aztec Empire fell apart. This woman is doing a fire dance in Aztec clothing, A modern Aztec drumming in traditional Aztec clothing, Aztecs celebrate a festival in Mexico City in traditional clothing, From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (, https://simple.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spanish_conquest_of_the_Aztec_Empire&oldid=7137191, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License, The Aztec government was making the states they took over – and regular people in Tenochtitlan – pay more and more money in, When Cortés and his conquistadors came to Tenochtitlan, they brought, Being forced to work too hard with too little food, which caused, Abuse from the people who were forcing them to work. Cortés's conquest has been depicted in numerous television documentaries. Cortes summoned the leaders of the city to one of the squares and after berating them for treason, he ordered a massacre. Conquest of the Aztec Empire Part II Foul play and blatant lies. This major victory marked the beginning of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. The cultures and people meshed, sometimes violently, sometimes peacefully, and by 1810 Mexico was enough of its own nation and culture that it broke with Spain and became independent. Another important example of Aztec architecture is the archaeological site of Tenayuca. The fall of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan to the Spanish led by Conquistador Hernan Cortes marked the end of an era as the Old and New Worlds collided with catastrophic results for the New World which would be decimated by War, famine and disease. [2], Then, in April 1519, Spanish conquistadors, led by Cortés, arrived on the coast of Mexico. The Aztec empire was a wealthy and a well-organized society. This was not much different from what many serfs had done during the Aztec Empire. By bringing the Aztec Empire under the rule of Spain, he set events in motion which would result in the modern-day nation of Mexico. After the conquest and that of Peru, indigenous civilizations never ruled the Americas again and the Spanish hold on it grew to encompass most of the Western Hemisphere. This unspeakable tragedy was a great lucky break for Cortes, as his European soldiers were largely unaffected by this disease. In 1519, when the Spanish first made official contact with the Empire, the Aztecs ruled most of present-day Mexico either directly or indirectly. Cortes and most of his most important lieutenants survived, however, and they made their way back to friendly Tlaxcala to rest and regroup. Because of this, a Spanish bishop named Bartolomé de las Casas suggested using African slaves to work in New Spain instead. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire is the subject of an opera, La Conquista (2005) and of a set of six symphonic poems, La nueva España (1992–99) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero. The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, or the Spanish–Aztec War (1519–21), was the conquest of the Aztec Empire by the Spanish Empire within the context of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.It was one of the most significant and complex events in world history. Most of the conquistadors did receive large tracts of land, however. At the time of the Spanish conquest the dominant people of Meso-America were the Aztec. Cortes ordered the construction of thirteen brigantines, large boats which could sail or be rowed and which would tip the balance while assaulting the island. [1], In 1515, two of the states in the Aztec Empire rebelled. From 1518-1521, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his army brought down the mighty Aztec Empire, the greatest the New World had ever seen. Some historians, like Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani, say that the Empire would have fallen apart even if the Spanish had never come. Between 1519 and 1521 the Spanish, under the leadership of conquistador Hernan Cortés, conquered the Aztec Empire. The effect the Spanish had on the Aztec Empire is a mixed lot. In 1519 Hernan Cortés sailed from Cuba, landed in Mexico and made his way to the Aztec capital. On what came to be known to the Spanish as the "Night of Sorrows," hundreds of Spanish were killed. While Cortez had promised to help liberate the totonacs at the same time he sent messages to Montezuma in Tenochtitlan, promising to help him subjugate the rebels. About one hundred years before, three powerful city-states in central Mexico — Tenochtitlan, Tlacopan and Tacuba — united to form the Triple Alliance, which soon rose to pre-eminence. There was sporadic fighting for decades to come, but in effect, the conquest was a done deal. Cortés helped old enemies of the Aztecs defeat them in one of the most important events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This system meant that Spanish people had ownership of the land that belonged to the Aztec people. In theory, the owner of an encomienda protected and educated the natives living there, but in reality, it was a thinly-veiled form of enslavement. After spending a couple of weeks there, Cortes learned of a plot to ambush the Spanish when they left the city. They became aware of a large landmass to the west, and some expeditions had visited the shores of the Gulf Coast, but no lasting settlement had been made. They extinguished their culture, destroyed most of their cities to build new ones with new names (Pizarro himself created the now-capital, Lima) which paved the way for thousands of their citizens to move there. [1], Aztec drawing of Cortés's first meeting with Motecuhzoma II, Aztec drawing of the Spanish massacring them in the Great Temple, Spanish painting of Cortés killing Aztecs, Conquistadors' metal armor, better weapons, and horses helped them beat the Aztecs, "The Last Days of Tenochtitlan" (1899 painting), Painting of Aztec temples burning after the Spanish took over, Under Spanish control, the Aztec Empire did not exist any more. When they reached the lands of the Tlaxcalans in August of 1519, Cortes decided to make contact with them. The brigantines were launched and Cortes and his men marched on Tenochtitlan. The disease even struck down Cuitláhuac, the warlike new leader of the Mexica. It opened new doors by broadening economic and political gain. Spanish troops then proceeded to murder whatever their diseases had left of the Inca Empire population. At its height, the Aztecs ruled over 80,000 square miles throughout central Mexico, from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific Ocean, and south to what is now Guatemala. However, this time, the Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo rebels beat the Aztec military. Soon, an alliance was forged between the Spanish and the Tlaxcalans. It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés' arrival in Mexico. In May of 1520, Cortes was forced to take most of his men and return to the coast to face a new threat: a large Spanish force, led by veteran conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez, sent by Governor Velazquez to rein him in. At first, Motecuhzoma II, the Aztecs' ruler, invited the Spanish into Tenochtitlan, and things were friendly. This was nothing new for the Aztecs. In early 1521, everything was ready. This disease killed many Aztecs, Aztecs being forced to work under the Encomienda system, Aztec culture continues today. The Spanish had metal armor and shields. ... Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro leads an expedition into the heart of the Inca Empire and captures the Incan Emperor Atahualpa and claims Peru for Spain. Then, in 1517, Spanish conquistadors, led by Cortés, arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The first emissaries from the Aztecs arrived, bearing gifts and seeking information about these interlopers. The deeply religious Montezuma had dithered and fretted about the arrival of these foreigners and did not oppose them. The Spanish conquest was devastating to the Aztec people. The Mexica were led by a Tlatoani, a position roughly similar to Emperor. Aztec Architecture Tenayuca. During the same 160 years – from 1520 to 1680 – between 85% and 95% of Mesoamerica's native population died. He is a former head writer at VIVA Travel Guides. At first, Montezuma II, the Aztecs' ruler, invited the Spanish into Tenochtitlan, and things were friendly. Nahua speaking people began to migrate to the Basin … [4], For weapons, Aztec warriors had a few choices:[4], None of these weapons could compare to the conquistadors' guns and steel swords. By 1519, the Empire had other problems that made it easier for Spain to take it over. Cortes earned a title and vast lands and stole most of the riches from his men by short-changing them when payments were made. There could hardly be a clearer statement of returning the sovereignty to the original king. Within two years, the Spanish invaders had taken down the most powerful city-state in Mesoamerica, and the implications were not lost on the remaining city-states in the region. When Cortés got back, he got Montezuma II to tell the Aztecs to stop fighting the conquistadors. This was nothing new for the Aztecs. [3], Ten months later, Cortés came back to Tenochtitlan with more Spanish soldiers but mostly Tlaxcaltecas and other indigenous enemies of the Aztecs. The Spanish made their way inland, ignoring pleas and threats from Montezuma to go away. [5], As early as 1528, reports have said that Montezuma II thought Hernán Cortés was the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Cortes returned in late June and decided that the city could not be held. [8][9] They made it easier to change from Aztec rule to Spanish rule by letting many Aztec nobles become Spanish nobles. Where enemies of the Age of exploration dithered and fretted about the of... For decades to come, but in effect, the Aztecs defeat them in one of Americas! The ancient prophecy has been fulfilled and the city was slowly worn down within a couple of weeks, II. Early as 1528, reports have said that Quetzalcoatl would return as a revolutionary some... ] their horses and war dogs gave them even more of the land that to... Empire rebelled unarmed nobles, slaughtering thousands conquistadors, led by a Tlatoani, a semi-willing guest! 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