The Aztec civilization during its peak was the strongest civilization in the western hemisphere. When the Spaniards first set foot in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, they could not believe that a civilization so primitive in their minds could have been so culturally developed and powerful. However, before making it to Tenochtitlan, they had discovered that all was not well in the Aztec empire. From many native Indians that had tension with the Aztecs, they learned of internal and pre-existing problems that existed. This investigation examines to what extent where those internal and pre-existing factors to blame for the downfall of the Aztec Empire. The investigation was undertaken using some of the only primary sources in existence such as that of Bernal Diaz Del Castillo and Bernardino de Sahagún, along with books from notable historians to shed light on vital events that took place leading to the conquest of the Aztec empire. Although popular belief is that the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs due to their superior weaponry or the introduction of deadly European diseases, there existed a great amount of factors, primarily the alliance that Hernan Cortes made with the Tlaxcala, which the Spanish used to take advantage of the Aztec people. Many historians argue that the Tlaxcala were already on the verge of a war with the Aztec people and that the Spaniards were a catalyst to launch an attack on the Aztecs. Essentially, the tension with the neighboring city-states that yielded their alliance made with the Spaniards, the religious quarrels that existed, along with other pre-existing tensions left the Aztec civilization vulnerable to the Spanish conquest. These combined factors helped weaken the social fabric by increasing resentment among conquered towns and cities and diminishing trust among Aztec citizens in their highly centralized government thus allowing conquest to be possible.
Word count: 296
Cited: Ancient Aztec Religion. (n.d.). Aztec History. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from http://www.aztec-history.com/ancient-aztec-religion.html Blacker, I Castillo, B. D. (1991). Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España. México, D.F.: Editorial Patria. Coe, M. D. (1994). Mexico - From The Olmecs To The Aztecs - Fourth Edition, Fully Revised And Expanded. London: Thames And Hudson. Cortes, H Fagan, B. M. (1984). The Aztecs. New York: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd. Clendinnen, I Karen, R. (1959). Feathered Serpent: The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs. New York: Simon & Schuster (Juv). Marrin, A Phillips, C. (2008). Complete Illustrated History of the Aztec and Maya. London: Jg Press. Sahagun, B. d. (1999). Historia General de las cosas de Nueva Espana. México D.F.: Editorial Porrúa. Stuart, G. S. (1981). The Might Aztecs (National Geographic Society). Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society Special Publications. Teaching and Learning: Conquest of Mexico: Guide to Digitized Sources. (n.d.). Retrieved October 3, 2009, from http://www.historians.org/Tl/LessonPlans/ca/Fitch/contents.htm The Fall of the Aztec Empire Thomas, H. (1995). Conquest: Cortes, Montezuma, and the Fall of Old Mexico. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.