Hernan Cortes

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Document Based Questions.

Hernan Cortes

European History Document Based Question

Directions: The following question is based on the accompanying Documents 1-11. The documents have been edited for the purpose of this exercise.

This question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents. Write an essay that: * Provides an appropriate, explicitly stated thesis that directly addresses all parts of the question and does not simply restate the question. * Discusses a majority of the documents individually and specifically. * Demonstrates understanding of the basic meaning of a majority of the documents. * Supports the thesis with appropriate interpretations of a majority of the documents. * Analyzes point of view or bias in at least three documents. * Analyzes the documents by explicitly grouping them in at least three appropriate ways.

1. Analyze how Hernan Cortes and his men helped impact the decline of the Aztec Empire upon their arrival.

Historical Background: In 1519, Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico with less than 600 men. Upon reaching Mexico he burned his ships so that his men had no option but to press on that he found the area under control of the Aztec Empire. Through alliances with smaller states that were under the domination of the Aztecs, Cortes soon controlled most of the central Mexico.

Document 1
Source: Miguel Leon-Portilla, "The Spaniards See the Objects of Gold", Broken Spears, 1962.They gave the "gods" ensigns of gold, and ensigns of quetzal feathers, and golden necklaces. And when they were given these presents, the Spaniards burst into smiles; their eyes shone with pleasure; they were delighted by them. They picked up the gold and fingered it like monkeys; they seemed to be transported by joy, as if their hearts were illuminated and made new. The truth is that they longed and lusted for gold. Their bodies swelled with greed, and their hunger was ravenous; they hungered like pigs for that gold. They snatched at the golden ensigns, waved them from side to side and examined every inch of them. They were like one who speaks barbarous tongue: everything they said was in a barbarous tongue...|

Document 2
Source: The Applied History Research Group, The European Voyages of Exploration, 1997.After courteous initial meetings with Moctezuma, relations between the Spaniards and the Aztecs deteriorated rapidly. Perhaps fearing that his company would become the next human sacrifices at the Aztec temple, Cortés seized Moctezuma and made him a prisoner. This stunned the Aztecs into submission and the Aztecs began collecting treasure as ransom. In the meanwhile Cortés left the capital to engage a military expedition sent by Velásquez to capture the rebellious captain. After subduing the forces sent by Velásquez, Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán to find that his Spanish troops had massacred an unarmed crowd at a religious ceremony thus provoking a massive popular uprising.Cortés' management of Spanish possessions in the Americas ensured that, by 1540, Mexico City (built on the ruins of Tenochtitlán) was the metropolis of Spanish America. Cortés' gambled that his success would absolve him of his rebellion against Velásquez in the eyes of the Spanish Crown. He was correct and received riches, a title of nobility, and fame. After the defeat of the Aztecs, Spanish power spread rapidly through the Aztec Empire. Cortés' action was one of the single largest additions of land and treasure to the Spanish Empire ever secured by an individual. |

Document 3
Source: "Map of the Aztec Empire".|

Document 4
Source: Miguel Leon-Portilla, "The Spaniards Attack the Celebrants", Broken Spears, 1962.At this moment in the fiesta, when the dance was loveliest and when song was linked to song, the Spaniards were seized with an urge to kill the celebrants. They all ran forward, armed as if for battle. They closed the entrances and passages, all the...
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