The Spanish Conquest

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The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in 1521, led by Hernando Cortes, was a landmark victory for the European settlers. Following the Spanish arrival in Mexico, a huge battle erupted between the army of Cortes and the Aztec people under the rule of Montezuma.

The Aztecs are a tribe, according to their own legends, from Aztlan somewhere in the north of modern Mexico. A major part of their life was religion. A polytheistic people, they often practiced human sacrifice to please their gods . The Aztecs had good wealth from trading and heavy payments of tribute from conquered people. According to legend, the god Quetzalcoatl, characterized by light skin, red hair, and light eyes, was supposed to return to earth. This appearance is very similar to Hernando Cortez’s appearance, and why the Aztecs greeted the Spaniards with food, gold, and women one of them, known to the Spaniards as Doña Marina, becomes Cortes' mistress and interpreter .

In November 1519 when Cortes approaches Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztecs, his small force is augmented by 1000 Tlaxtalecs . But to the astonishment of the Spaniards, no force is needed. Cortés wasted no time in taking claim for god and King. He challenged the natives and entered Tenochtitlan, taking the Aztec leader, Montezuma, hostage which led to the Aztec uprising that culminated in La Noche Triste . The Spaniards had the advantage over the Aztecs in every way except for numbers. They had strange animals that the Aztecs had never seen before such as the horse, which they thought were connected to the Spaniards. The horses allowed the Spaniards to tower over the battling Aztecs giving them an advantage on spotting on coming attacks. The Spaniards also had guns, swords, cannons, and metal shields to protect their bodies . The Aztecs didn’t try to kill the Spaniards but instead tried to use them as sacrifices. They’d beat them with their wooden weapons or throw spears at them to injure them. Despite Cortés’s encountering a few...
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