This article has been rated as C-Class. However for many this is where their story begins and ends. The Tlaxcalans would supposedly welcome the Spanish but would send their Otomí allies to attack them. Despite being made a marquis years later, the Conqueror of Mexico did not have a glorious end. In just a few years, he would lose many of his lands in the New World. In 1516 Juan Díaz de Solís, discovered the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River. Francisco Pizarro conquered the _____ empire in the early 1500s. Aztlan is a legendary … Mosaic mask of turquoise and lignite covers a human skull and represents an Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca. After the Spanish fled Tenochtitlan, they retreated to Tlaxcala to rest and regroup. Any resistance was brutally crushed: Many indigenous enemies were captured as slaves and some were even branded following their capture. Her linguistic skills would prove crucial to Cortés’s invasion plans, and she became his interpreter as well as his concubine. The loss of human life was staggering, both in absolute figures and in its disproportionality. Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin / Wikimedia Commons. In 1511 he joined an expedition to conquer Cuba and was appointed secretary to the island's first colonial governor, Diego Velázquez. Thousands of warriors and a safe base of support only days away from Tenochtitlan proved invaluable to Cortes and his war effort. The conquest of Tenochtitlan and the subsequent consolidation of Spanish domination over the former Aztec Empire was the first major possession in what became the Spanish Empire. What modern city was built on the site of Tenochtitlan? Aztec warriors besiege Spaniards, uned the command of Alvarado, who are holing up in Moctezuma's palace in this engraving from the 16th century. During the day, the Tlaxcalans and their Otomi allies would attack, only to be driven off by the Spanish. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the ​Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. In 1504, Cortés left Spain for the island of Hispaniola (today, home to the Dominican Republic and Haiti), where he rose through the ranks of the fledgling colonial administration. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. 8 Important Figures in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire, Important Events in the Conquest of the Aztec Empire, Conquistadors vs. Aztecs: the Battle of Otumba, Timeline of Hernan Cortes' Conquest of the Aztecs, Biography of Malinche, Enslaved Woman and Interpreter to Hernán Cortés. The area controlled by the Tlaxcalans comprised some 200 semi-autonomous villages united by their hatred of the Mexica. Cortés Conquers the Aztecs Cortés became worried that some of his crew would steal his ships and desert him so he sunk his fleet before marching to... After Montezuma II was killed the Aztecs elected Cuauhtemoc as their new king. From 1518-1521, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his army brought down the mighty Aztec Empire, the greatest the New World had ever seen. Cortés’s forces seemed invincible. Hernan Cortes. The Tlaxcalans' hatred of the Mexica ran very deep. A Tlaxcalan prince, Xicotencatl the Younger, came up with a clever plan. In this, they were helped enormously by two factors. Whole swaths of the Americas rapidly fell to the Spanish crown, a transformation begun by the ruthless conqueror of the Aztec Empire, Hernán Cortés. Eventually, the Tlaxcalans saw that the Spanish were a greater threat than the Mexica (and had been so all along). Even so, the siege of Tenochtitlan was not a given. When Cortes was forced to return to the Gulf Coast to face conquistador. Pedro de Alvarado was given one of the daughters of Xicotencatl the elder named Tecuelhuatzín, who was later christened Doña Maria Luisa. Were the Tlaxcalans traitors? In 1547, at the age of 62, he died in a village near Sevilla, Spain, embroiled in lawsuits and his health broken by a series of disastrous expeditions. The warriors and noblemen who were not killed immediately died later from rampant smallpox and other diseases. Skillful deployment of cavalry against the elite Aztec jaguar and eagle warriors carried the day for the Europeans and their allies.“Our only security, apart from God,”Cortés wrote,“is our horses.”. The first killing was a massacre of Aztec nobles gathered for a religious ceremony. Knowledge of the divisions among different native peoples, and an unerring ability to exploit them, was central to Cortés’s strategy. During lulls in the fighting, Cortes and his men would launch punitive attacks and food raids against local towns and villages. Order of the social class in the Aztec Empire. Cortés once described the land near Veracruz, the city he founded on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, as rich as the mythical land where King Solomon obtained his gold. In the end, Cortes did not make it a condition of their alliance, but he continued to pressure the Tlaxcalans to convert and abandon their previous "idolatrous" practices. Cortes secured this alliance by meeting regularly with Xicotencatl the Elder and Maxixcatzin, the two great lords of Tlaxcala, giving them gifts and promising to free them from the hated Mexica. During the siege, around 100 Spaniards lost their lives compared to as many as 100,000 Aztec. At first, the Tlaxcalans fought the conquistadors viciously, but after repeated defeats, they decided to make peace with the Spanish and ally with them against their traditional enemies. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2016/05-06/cortes-tenochtitlan.html. In August of 1519, the Spanish were making their way to Tenochtitlan. In his absence, Cortés left Tenochtitlan under the command of Pedro de Alvarado and a garrison of 80 Spaniards. They fought the Spanish and then, when offered an alliance by these formidable foreign warriors against their traditional enemies, decided that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." They had allies, with the Tlaxcalans being among the most important. A Spanish explorer by the name of Hernan Cortés planed to conquer the empire. More specifically, he arrived at the island of Hispaniola which is the modern-day Dominican Republic and Haiti. During these years, Cortés developed the skills that would stand him in good stead in his short, turbulent career as a conquistador. Its capital city, Tenochtitlan, ruled 400 to 500 small states with a total population of five to six million. More specifically, he arrived at the island of Hispaniola which is the modern-day Dominican Republic and Haiti. From 1420 or so to 1519, the mighty Mexica culture had come to dominate most of central Mexico. Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There was now no turning back. The Aztec lands were renamed "New Spain" and the colonization process began. The Aztec Empire was the last of the great Mesoamerican cultures. On the way to Tenochtitlan, the Spaniards gained the support of the Totonac peoples from the city of Cempoala, who hoped to be freed from the Aztec yoke. Waves of attacks were launched on settlements near the Aztec capital. Cortés ordered the marshland to be filled with rubble for a final assault. Even after two weeks of constantly battling the Spanish, the Tlaxcalans still had thousands of warriors, fierce men who were loyal to their elders (and the alliance their elders made) and who despised the Mexica. The war between Spain and the Aztecs went from 1519 to 1521. Rare Aztec Map Reveals a Glimpse of Life in 1500s Mexico. Wielded by the Spanish, the harquebus, also called a hackbut, was an early gun that had a firing range of less than 650 feet. Like other conquistadores of the early 16th century, Cortés had already gained considerable experience by living in the New World before embarking on his exploits. Call the Aztec midwife: Childbirth in the 16th century. At the age of 19, he travelled to the Spanish controlled colonies in the Caribbean. Twenty-five years after the first Spanish settlement in the New World, expeditions of exploration were sent to the coast of Mexico. Conquistador Hernan Cortes and his Spanish troops did not conquer the Aztec Empire on their own. Mamexi counseled going through Tlaxcala and possibly making allies of them. Wounded in one leg, the Spanish leader was ultimately rescued by his captains. In 1521, Hernán Cortés, along with an allied army of other Native Americans, conquered the Aztecs through germ warfare (germ theory not being established until 1560 by earliest records, this was an unintentional result of Europeans coming to the New World), siege warfare, psychological warfare, and from direct combat. Linked steel plates offered the Spanish almost complete protection from Aztec weaponry. To appease the Spaniards, he sent envoys and gifts to Cortés, but he only succeeded in inflaming Cortés’s desires for more Aztec riches. Although Montezuma defeated the rebellions, they weakened the empire. One by one, the Mexica had conquered and subjugated dozens of neighboring cultures and city-states, turning them into strategic allies or resentful vassals. For several days, the Spaniards vainly used Moctezuma in an attempt to calm tempers, but his people pelted the puppet king with stones. In the fifteenth century, long-distance trade shifted to A) East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean The Tlaxcalans attacked but the Spanish drove them off with a concerted cavalry charge, losing two horses in the process. From 1420 or so to 1519, the mighty Mexica culture had come to dominate most of central Mexico. During the Night of Sorrows, Tlaxcalan warriors helped the Spanish escape by night from Tenochtitlan. In 1519, conquistador Hernan Cortes landed on Mexico's Gulf coast and began an audacious conquest of the mighty Aztec Empire. Over the following months Cortés would take matters into his own hands, disobey the governor’s orders, and turn what had been intended to be an exploratory mission into a historic military conquest. Cortés had a talent for observing and manipulating local political rivalries. The event would come to be known as the Night of Sorrows. The contributions of the Tlaxcalans to the conquest are many, but here are some of the more important ones: It's not an exaggeration to say that Cortes would not have defeated the Mexica without the Tlaxcalans. What did the Aztec Empire require conquered people to do? ), Having rapidly imposed control over the indigenous population in the coastal region, Cortés was given 20 slaves by a local chieftain. They occupied the small town of Zautla and pondered their next move. human blood. Tlaxcalla, Cholula and Huexotzinco all refused Aztec dominance and were never fully conquered. Between 1519 and 1521, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztec Empire.This event is called the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.Cortés helped old enemies of the Aztecs defeat them in one of the most important events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas.. On the march to Tenochtitlan, Cortés had already enlisted the enthusiastic help of the Tlaxcalans, both in men and supplies. In 1519, as conquistador Hernan Cortes was making his way inland from the coast on his audacious conquest of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire, he had to pass through the lands of the fiercely independent Tlaxcalans, who were the mortal enemies of the Mexica. When the envoys did not return, Cortes and his men moved out and entered Tlaxcalan territory anyway. From Zautla, Cortes sent four Cempoalan envoys to Tlaxcala, offering to talk about a possible alliance, and moved to the town of Ixtaquimaxtitlan. On June 30, 1520, the Spanish fled the city under fire, suffering hundreds of casualties. The conquistador had a son with her, Martín, who is often regarded as the first ever mestizo—a person of mixed European and American Indian ancestry. many empires throughout history, and they ruled people in very different ways The first was help from disgruntled subject peoples or traditional enemies of the Aztecs. This stigma persists today, albeit in a weakened form. The Aztec had allies too, however, and Cortés was especially belligerent toward them. The sacking also allowed the Spaniards to build up their large personal retinues, taking captives to use as servants and slaves, and kidnapping others for exchanges and ransoms. They were banished to an island after they sacrificed the daughter of a king. For the next two years, the Tlaxcalans honored their alliance with Cortes. Each state had its own ruler or tlatoani who led a council of nobles but these small urban centres surrounded by farmland soon sought to expand their wealth and influence so that by c. 1400 CE several small empires had formed in the Valley of Mexico. They remained camped out on a hilltop. Unbeknownst to Cortés, his arrival coincided with an important Aztec prophecy. Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire has been listed as a level-4 vital article in History. After sending messages back and forth for a few days with not only the elders of Tlaxcala but also Emperor Montezuma, Cortes decided to go to Tlaxcala. In 1518 Velázquez appointed his secretary to lead an expedition to Mexico. The Spanish conquistador who conquered the Aztec Empire. The Spanish had established a permanent settlement on the island of Hispaniola in 1493 on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. It was a very productive time for Cortes and his men. Nahua peoples descended from Chichimec peoples who migrated to central Mexico from the north in the early 13th century. The conquest of the Aztecs marked a significant period for the Spanish. A. Moctezuma died a few days later, but his successors would fare no better than he did. In the face of their unstoppable advance, Moctezuma stalled for time, allowing the Spaniards and their allies to enter Tenochtitlan unopposed in November 1519. When the Spanish re-conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521, thousands of Tlaxcalan soldiers joined them. Following a military victory over another native people, the Tlaxcaltec, Cortés incorporated more warriors into his army. All rights reserved. One important aspect of their extended stay was that they could rest, heal their wounds, tend to their horses and equipment and basically get ready for the next step of their journey. Hearing of the approach of Cortés, with his frightful horses and sophisticated weapons, Montezuma II tried to buy him … But the most important thing the Spanish gained in their stay in Tlaxcala was an ally. Inca. A) register marriages B) pay tribute C) learn about Aztec culture D) speak the Aztec language. After a grueling battle lasting more than five hours, as many as 6,000 of its people were killed. By 1519, only a few isolated holdouts remained. He used deadly force to conquer Mexico, fighting Tlaxacan and Cholula warriors before turning his attention on the ultimate prize: taking over the Aztec Empire. The Aztec empire collapsed almost instantly after the conquest. Thousands of fierce Tlaxcalan warriors would fight alongside the conquistadors for the duration of the conquest. During fighting in July 1521, the Aztec held strong, even capturing Cortés himself. The Spanish entered the scene in 1519 when Hernan Cortes landed an exploratory vessel on the coast. At Veracruz, Cortés trained his army and then burned his ships to ensure loyalty to his plans for conquest. Cortés had heard of the Aztecs and knew that they, and their leader Montezuma II, were a primary force in Mexico. Cortes and his men would remain in Tlaxcala for 20 days. The outbreak weakened the Aztec while giving Cortés time to regroup. During this setback for the conquistador, the Aztec warriors managed to regain lost ground and rebuild the city’s fortifications, pushing the Spanish onto the defensive for nearly three weeks. The hotheaded Alvarado lacked Cortes’s skill and diplomacy. Three hundred Tlaxcalan girls were given to the conquistadors, including some of noble birth for the officers. A Spanish Officer named Pedro De … Establishing a pattern that would recur throughout his career, Cortés soon found himself as much at threat from his own compatriots as from the peoples he was trying to subdue. Hernan Cortés was the Spanish conquistador that led the expedition to explore and conquer the Aztec Empire. To the Aztec, 1519 was a year that began with their empire as the uncontested power in the region. Cortés eventually had him executed. Having learned of political strife in the Aztec empire, Cortés led his force into the Mexican interior. The Aztecs tried repeatedly to conquer and subjugate them but always failed. How this alliance developed and how their support was crucial to Cortes' success. Tlaxcala and the Aztec Empire in 1519 . Nobility in Aztec society. There were further Spanish explorations and settlements in the Caribbean and the Spanish Main, seeking wealth in the form of gold and access to indigenous labor to mine gold and other manual labor. Meanwhile, envoys from Mexica Emperor Montezuma showed up, encouraging the Spanish to keep fighting the Tlaxcalans and to not trust anything they said. This 18th-century oil painting, part of the Conquest of Mexico series at the Library of Congress, shows Hernán Cortés poised at the gates of the capital of the Aztec Empire. Emperor Moctezuma ruled the Aztec when Cortés first arrived in Mexico in 1519. “Not a single stone remained left to burn and destroy,” one witness wrote. 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