Conquest of Mexico and Peru
“How did small groups of Spaniards, which initially numbered only a few hundred men, conquer the Aztec and the Incan empires that had populations in the millions, large armies, and militarist traditions of their own? (Keen and Haynes 68). Many modern day scholars express how easily the Spanish conquered both Mexico and Peru from great leaders such as the Aztec ruler Moctezuma and the Incan emperor Atahualpa. In order to understand how this conquest was accomplished, one must take a closer look at the belief systems of the Aztec and the Incan empires as well as the advantages of the Spanish. Ultimately a combination of superior weapons, disease, and internal divisions were the cause of their fall to the Spanish.
The arrival of the Spanish in 1518 in Tenochtitlan was the beginning of the end for the Aztecs in Mexico. Pinotl, King Moctezuma’s trusted ambassador greeted Spanish captain Juan de Grijalva and traded Aztec gold for Spanish green beads which led Grijalva to believe he had arrived at a wealthy empire near present day Veracruz. Searching for authority to establish a colony, Grijalva sent Pedro de Alvarado back to Governor Diego Velazquez of Cuba with the gold the Aztecs had traded. Velazquez was presently arranging a third trip to conquer the Mexican mainland and overlooked Grijalva for the expedition, and instead chose Hernando Cortes who had served under Velazquez in 1511 in Cuban conquest. During the final moments prior to the expedition, Velazquez decided to recall Cortes from the voyage, however Cortes ignored the command and in February of 1519, he sailed with 600 men to the Mexican mainland. In April of 1519, Cortes founded Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz where he elected officials and surrendered the authority given to him by Velazquez. This, in turn, allowed the officials to give Cortes the title of Captain General with authority to conquer and colonize newly discovered lands. Armed with the report of Pinotl,...
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