Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. A key pillar of the Aztec religion was the belief that the gods had given their lives to create this world, so humans were bound to repay that debt in blood. A number of modern scholars cast doubt on whether such omens occurred or whether they were ex post facto creations to help the Mexica explain their defeat.[22]. "[21]:306–307, Cortes then received reinforcements when the Panuco river settlement was abandoned, and supply ships arrived from Cuba and Spain. Ritual human sacrifice did not always sit well with the vassal tribes. Over the next few days Moctezuma’s diplomats were dispatched bearing Golden gifts for Cortes and the Conquistadors, constructing sleeping quarters and providing servants. [21]:154 It is possible that the Aztecs left Tlaxcala independent so that they would have a constant supply of war captives to sacrifice to their gods. The name "New Spain" had been suggested by Cortés and was later confirmed officially by Mendoza. [17]:26[21]:89–91, Faced with imprisonment or death for defying the governor, Cortés' only alternative was to continue on with his enterprise in the hope of redeeming himself with the Spanish Crown. These were called the “Flowery Wars.” Then came the spectacle that placed fear in all the subjects of the Aztec empire—the “Feast of the Flaying Men.” Here was a chance for Aztec warriors to perform for the gods while at the same time offer a terrifying performance for all Aztec civilian society to see. On the western side of the Yucatán Peninsula, the Spaniards were attacked at night by Maya chief Mochcouoh (Mochh Couoh). Raudzens, George. Less successfully the Nahua allies from Huexotzinco (or Huejotzinco) near Tlaxcala argued that their contributions had been overlooked by the Spanish. Daniel, Douglas A. Tactical Factors in the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs, Anthropological Quarterly, October 1992 Diel, Lori Boornazian. The fall of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan to the Spanish led by Conquistador Hernan Cortes marked the end of an era as the Old and New Worlds collided with catastrophic results for the New World which would be decimated by War, famine and disease. These were almost immediately published in Spain and later in Europe. [17]:66–68[21]:270–272 Finally, the Moctezuma let the Spaniards build an altar on their temple, next to the Aztec idols. Indeed I cannot express all that I thought there’. Tales of the massacre convinced the other cities in the Aztec Empire to entertain seriously Cortés' proposals rather than risk the same fate. Moctezuma was uncertain as to how to treat the Foreigners, and the explanation for the hospitality extended to Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadors may lie in an Ancient Aztec Prophecy of the Pale Skinned Aztec God Viracocha or Quetzalcoatl of Ancient Mesoamerica who had been Prophesied to return around the same time as Cortes had arrived in Moctezuma’s lands. "[24] Hugh Thomas concludes that Moctezuma was confused and ambivalent about whether Cortés was a god or the ambassador of a great king in another land. "Who am I as a descendant of the Indigenous people?". The Mayans at Cape Catoche invited the Spaniards to land, and the Spaniards read the Requirement of 1513 to them, which offered the natives the protection of the King of Spain, if they would submit to him. Many of those on the Cortés expedition of 1519 had never seen combat before. No wonder that (imported) slaves were to prove invaluable, and that Spain should turn her attention to the mainland, rumoured to be wealthy beyond dreams, as a natural extension of her colonisation of the Indies. The most common estimates put the population at around 60,000 to over 300,000 people. War in History (1995): 87-104. Much of the wealth the Spaniards had acquired in Tenochtitlan was lost. This, despite Moctezuma's chieftains, nephews and relations suggesting they should attack the Spanish.[21]:243–249. As Cortes told his men, the natives "think us gods, or godlike beings. Their accounts are similar to Spanish conquerors' accounts contained in petitions for rewards, known as benemérito petitions. Spain spent enormous amounts of this wealth hiring mercenaries to fight the Protestant Reformation and to halt the Turkish invasions of Europe. Cholula had a very small army, because as a sacred city they put their confidence in their prestige and their gods. The treasure consisted of a "quantity of golden objects - jewels and plates and ingots". The Spanish authorized expeditions or entradas for the discovery, conquest, and colonization of new territory, using existing Spanish settlements as a base. Over the next few months, Cortés founded a base at La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (now Veracruz, Mexico), and his conquistadores moved west along the coast toward Aztec lands. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Updates? Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Regardless, on command, the Spaniards seized and killed many of the local nobles to serve as a lesson.[21]:199. The bulk of the Spanish infantry, left behind by Cortés and the other horsemen, had to cut their way through the masses of Aztec warriors opposing them. All accounts of the conquest, Spanish and indigenous alike, have biases and exaggerations. Doña Marina quickly learned Spanish, and became Cortés's primary interpreter, confidant, consort, cultural translator, and the mother of his son, Martin. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Montezuma also told Cortes, he was certain the Spanish were of "his own race", and had arrived as "his ancestors had foretold". In the meantime, Cortés constructed 13 small ships to launch against the city during his next attack. Conquest accomplished. The Aztecs had already conquered most of the territory around Tlaxcala, and made war on them every year. Oxford University Press: Oxford and New York, 2003. As stated before, the Aztecs engaged in warfare mainly to capture sacrificial victims. Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar giving Hernán Cortés command of the expedition to Mexico; in the Museum of America, Madrid. However, it appears that Cortés perceived Cholula more as a military threat to his rear guard as he marched to Tenochtitlan than a religious center. Córdoba took two prisoners, who adopted the baptized names of Melchor and Julián, and became interpreters. Greater risk reaped greater rewards. José María Rosas, a 62-year-old taxi driver in Mexico City, was visiting it for the first time in early November. 79, detail (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 13: A possible representation of the mysterious dual creator spirit Ometeotl (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 14: : Columbus reports to the Spanish royal court, Barcelona; stone frieze, Archivo General de Indias, Seville (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 15: View of Seville, attributed to Luis de Caullery, late 16th century; Archivo General de Indias, Seville (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 16: Caricature of Spanish conquistador in armour, ceramic dish, possibly 16th century, Real Alcázar, Seville (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 17: The first expedition under Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1517 – illustration by Miguel Covarrubias (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 18: : Painting ‘The Arrival of Cortés in Mexico’ by Vicente Alanís, Archivo General de Indias, Seville (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 19: Cortés arrives in Tenochtitlan – detail from a folding screen-mural by Roberto Cueva del Río; notice Doña Marina interpreting, and the image of the god Quetzalcóatl hidden in the distance just behind Cortés (Click on image to enlarge), Pic 20: Map showing the initial route from the coast taken by Cortés’ force, with allies, moving through Totonac and Tlaxcalan territories (Click on image to enlarge). [21]:128–130, There is a popular misconception that the ships were burned rather than sunk. The fall of the Aztec Empire was the key event in the formation of the Spanish overseas empire, with New Spain, which later became Mexico, a major component. Thank you, Marion! The Spanish, however, had no intention of taking any captives alive when it came to warfare. The Spanish were thus caught on a narrow road with water or buildings on both sides. [47] The key to understanding how considerable continuity of pre-Conquest indigenous structures was possible was the Spanish colonial utilization of the indigenous nobility. [21]:287–294 Aztec sources state the Spaniards killed him. Maxixcatzin, Xicotencatl the Elder, Citalpopocatzin and Temiloltecutl received the names of Don Lorenzo, Don Vicente, Don Bartolomé and Don Gonzalo. Despite any violence and force used by the Spanish, their warfare practices were deemed “civil” in comparison to Aztec warfare. He says Cortés was a "mediocrity" with little personal impact on the unfolding of events and refocuses on complex territorial battles between the Aztecs and their rivals. The smallpox weakened the Aztec cities around Tenochtitlan which soon fell to the Spanish and made it possible for the Spaniards to lay siege to Tenochtitlan. And Restall thinks the implications reach even further. Spanish conquest of Mexico had antecedents with established practices.[3]. "Tenochtitlán was a huge city," says Barrera. Battle of Tenochtitlan (May 22–August 13, 1521), military engagement between the Aztecs and a coalition of Spanish and indigenous combatants commanded by Hernan Cortes. Tlaxcala: 80,000–200,000, The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was one of the most significant events in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, as well as world history. Below can be seen the seven types of sailing ship in use at the time. With Mexico's president still insisting on Spain's apology and calling for "reconciliation" with the Spanish over the conquest, it will continue to be present in modern-day Mexico. The most popular and enduring narrative of the Spanish campaign in central Mexico is by New England-born nineteenth-century historian William Hickling Prescott. After Cortés permitted the defeated soldiers to settle in the country, they "passed with more or less willingness to Cortes' side." The Hispanic American Historical Review (1972): 467-468. "History is messy, and this story tidies up all of that mess and turns the messy, unpleasant war that took place 500 years ago into a nice, tidy dramatic narrative that has a hero [Cortés] and antihero [Montezuma] and has some kind of climactic, glorious ending," says Restall. During the Spaniards retreat, they defeated a large Aztec army at Otumba and then rejoined their Tlaxcaltec allies. [17]:63 In turn, Cortés attempted to embrace the Emperor but was restrained by a courtier.[21]:218. Yet, as supreme ruler, he had the power to break his own rules. Huge quantities of tribute flowed into the city (brought in by canoes of all sizes) from conquered provinces - both foodstuffs and other practical items (everything from grinding stones to textiles) and luxury goods (from precious feathers and cacao to jade and turquoise jewellery).