The End of the Aztec Civilization

The Aztec Civilization was brought to an end by the Spanish.  The Aztec Empire was a union of three city-states established in 1427: Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan. To learn more …..

Then in 1517 when Hernandez de Cordoba visited and reported back to the Spanish Governor, Diego Velasquez, in Cuba, what he had found. This made the Governor decide to send a larger expedition under the command of Hernán Cortés. Read ….. 

The fall of the Aztec Empire.

In 1519 Cortés landed in Yucatán then went to Campeche, where he negotiated a peace through his interpreter, Aguilar. Unfortunately, he could only do this from Spanish to Mayan. Therefore, the Ruler of Campeche gave Cortés a slave woman, La Malinche, who could speak Mayan and Nahuatl.  La Malinche was a clever and quick slave who quickly learned Spanish.

Initially, Cortes built a city, Veracruz, on the Mexican coast, from where he marched into Mexico. There, thanks to the shakiness of the Aztec empire, he was able to play the different native peoples off against each other.

By November that year he had reached Tenochtitlan, where the ruler Montezuma and his people greeted them as honoured guests according to Aztec custom.  Then, even though the Aztecs had superior numbers, their weapons were inferior, Cortés took control of Tenochtitlan. His men then murdered thousands of Aztec nobles including Montezuma himself. They also bought diseases with them, such as smallpox, mumps and measles, of which the Aztecs had no immunity, more of the population died! With the result that it is said that within a year 40% of the Tenochtitlan had died.

After Montezuma’s death

His young nephew, Cuauhtémoc, took over as Emperor.  He took control of the army and with him in leading it the Aztecs drove the Spaniards from the city. However, Cortés attacked the city again and re-conquered it. This time it is said that some 240,000 people were thought to have died as aresult of the conquest!   This counter-attack and occupation of Tenochtitlan, was the end of the Aztec civilization. Click here to learn more …. 

The birth of Mexico City

Once he occupied the city, Cortés demolished it. However, then he realised how important its strategic position was, so built a new city on the site! This is the one we now know as Mexico City, which was built on an island in what was then Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico.

In its peak, Mexico City became the largest city in the Americas, though it has now been overtaken by São Paulo. During the Spanish occupation it became the chief city, the seats of both the Viceroyalty of New Spain and the Archbishopric of New Spain.

Even though the Aztec society was blotted out in 1521, even today you can still see some of the ruins of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, if you visit Mexico City.

To give your students a feel of the period download  The Golden City – The Lost Empire of the Aztecs, by clicking here …

Isn’t history fascinating?