Cortes Conquers the Aztecs: Spanish Conquest or Indian Civil War

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Kristen Santoyo
Chicano Studies 101
Tuesday/Thursday 9 AM
Mid-Term Essay Question
The Spanish conquests of Montezuma and the Aztecs were both a Spanish conquest as well as an Indian civil war. The thing that ties them both together is the Conquistador Hernan Cortes. You could argue for both sides as to which played a more significant part in the fall of the Aztecs, however, I feel they both played an equal role in the defeat of the Aztecs and the fall of Tenochititlan to the Spaniards.

When Cortes first came to Mexico, he did not know the language spoken by the Indian tribes. He was fortunate enough to have two interpreters; Aguilar, a shipwrecked Spaniard who had learned the Maya language, and Malinche. Malinche was a young maiden “given” to Cortes as an offering. Between her and Aguilar, Cortes was able to become familiar with the way the Aztecs lived, thought, and fought. He used this tactic to aid in expedition and to guard against any attacks.

By far, one of the biggest downfalls of Montezuma and the Aztecs was the role of the God Quetzalcoatl. The majority of the Aztecs’ lives and beliefs was centered on their Gods. One of their biggest beliefs was of the God Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. Montezuma believed that Cortes was the human version of Quetzalcoatl. The legend of Quetzalcoatl depicted a bearded, white God who looked similar to Cortes. Quetzalcoatl was prominent during the Toltec rule and had supposedly left the valley because he was unhappy with the way things were. The Aztecs believed he was expected to return and bring back good times and good fortune. Cortes took advantage of their beliefs and immersed himself into the Aztecs lives. Against the advice of his royal family, Montezuma welcomed Cortes and the Spaniards with open arms. They wanted Montezuma to kill the foreigners. The Aztecs tried giving the Spaniards gold and other riches to get them to leave their city. This only fueled their desire and ambitions for more, and they...
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