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How did Hernan Cortes Conquer the Aztecs?

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Chris McCrary

on 29 April 2015

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Transcript of How did Hernan Cortes Conquer the Aztecs?

Cortes burned down every single ship they brought to Mesoamerica to prevent mutiny
Cruelty towards his own men
Rumors spread that the Cholulan tribe was going to capture Cortes, so they were all viciously murdered
Cruelty towards Natives
Hernan as a leader would not use standard European tactics, but would adopt and improve Native tactics (Ex: using a decoy army)

Decoy army would be used to defeat the Tlaxcala tribe and Panphilo Narvaez, a man sent by the Cuban governor to arrest and detain Cortes (with an army, not just your standard cop)
Context and Background
How did Hernan Cortes Conquer the Aztecs?
Late 1400s and Early 1500s
Time of strong European Imperialism
Spain, England, France, Portugal and others starting to form global empires
Columbus discovered the "New World" in 1492
People were payed to move across Atlantic to Caribbean
To start off...
Hernando Cortes
Born in 1485, died in 1547
He wanted more out of life, left to New World in 1504
Left on expedition to Yucatan Peninsula against wishes of Governor of Cuba
In search of superior Mayan and Aztec civilization
There, he would find shipwrecked Europeans that could translate for him
Met the steward of the Montezuma, the Aztec emperor
Cortes would begin his conquest of the Aztec empire now
The Yucatan
Miraculously, he would overthrow Tenochtitlan in 1521.
Cortes had a party of around 700 Spaniards and 1000 native warriors
Tenochtitlan had around 250,000 people living in it at the time, 4 times the size of London at the time
Three Main Mechanisms
The Spanish Military's
Strength and strategy

Aztec Religion
played a large part
of Hernan Cortes
Allied with the Tlaxcalans and Totonacs
The Aztec people already believed that the end of an empire was near
Omens in the previous century predicted calamity and destruction
When Cortes came, he fulfilled a prophecy and was believed to be a god

A fiery meteor crossed the sky over Tenochtitlan
The Temple of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, burst into flames (this meant that war was immenant or that war had been declared)
The Lake of Mexico surrounding Tenochtitlan boiled and rose, flooding surrounding villages and houses (WHAT??)
Some fishermen discovered a bird with a mirror like object in the crown of it's head. When the bird was brought to Montezuma and he looked into the mirror, he saw people waging war and riding on the back of animals that looked like deer (Wait, so they knew about horses before a single one had set foot on the New World?? WHAT?)
Cortes = God
Cortes was believed to be Quetzalcoatl, a vengeful, wrathful god that was said to one day take back the land he once owned (Tenochtitlan).
He was said to be fair-skinned and with a large beard (this could describe every single Spanish conquistador)
Quetzalcoatl was predicted to come on the "One Reed" year... 1519 was the "One Reed" year
Unnecessary killing of emperor Montezuma because he was not necessary
Gave defeated men of Panphilo de Narvaez: join Cortes and conquer Tenochtitlan, or die
On to the next presentation...
Thank you
Full transcript