Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire

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The people known as the Aztecs (who referred to themselves as the Mexica or Tenocha) originated from a place called Aztlan, somewhere in North or North west Mexico. Sometime in the 12th century they embarked on a period of wander- ing and in the 13th century settled in the valley of central Mexico. About 1345 they founded the town of Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs of Tenochtitlan ruled by Montezuma II became the greatest power in Mexico. The city of Tenochtitlan formed an alliance with the neighboring cities of Texcoco and Tlacopan but later became the dominant partner and gained total control of the entire valley. Conquering city after city, Moctezuma and his warrior empire took food, luxury goods, exotic raw materials and war captives. The prisoners of war were saved for sacrifices to the gods. Embarking on a journey of his own in search of gold, General Hernando Cortes lead his group of Spanish troops into the path of the powerful Moctezuma monarchy. After meeting face to face, both men seemingly viewed the other with mutual respect after a friendly exchange of greetings. Trust was not to be gained quite as easily as each leader kept their warriors on constant alert. Even after General Cortes and his troops were settled into luxurious apartments and given a sumptuous meal, they remained very cautious. By placing their cannon into position and readying the cavalry and infantry, they could be ready in a moment s notice. Moctezuma remained alert as well, and had even gone so far as to have his secret room of riches and treasures cemented. He was still uncertain as to whether Cortes was god or man, friend or foe. There is no doubt that the Spaniards viewed Montezuma as mighty, great and wise. I m certain they were astonished and awed over his great fortune, works of gold, jewels, magnificent arts, architecture, and the like. He was definitely not lacking in pomp and splendor. Everything Montezuma owned was excessive and everything he did was carried to the extreme. He...
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