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The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire was led by Hernan Cortes . This can be traced back to the year 1519 - 1521. He was aided by his Tlaxcala and other indigenous people who were dissatisfied with the Mexica (Aztec) empire (Berdan, 1982). The success of the Spaniards can be attributed to a number of factors : firstly , the indigenous people of Nueva Vizcaya engaged the federal authority in Mexico city (Berdan, 1982). The Spaniards had succeeded in converting a number of the natives into Christianity and this is the lot that aided them in their invasion (Manchip , 1971). A war emerged between the natives who had resisted conversion into Christianity as they sought revenge against those who had given in to the conversion. The result of this was a divided population which could now not successfully resist an external aggression hence the Spaniards were not met with a strong repulsion. Interestingly , it took only 600 Spaniards and some natives to succeed in this conquest against 5 million natives (Diamond , 1942).
The Aztec ruler , Montezuma contributed immensely to the ultimate downfall of his empire due to his cautious treatment of the attackers (Castillo, 1996). The religion of the Aztec also played a key role in their ultimate defeat. They believed that their god Quetzalcoatl would one day come back from the east (Hassig , 2001). They believed that Quetzalcoatl had pale skin and was bearded so when the Spaniards invaded their country , they believed that Cortez was the god they had been waiting for (Cohen ,1972). The gods were very paramount to the Aztecs and this is what led to the ultimate demise of their empire. Due to their strong religion , the Aztec believed in visions . Montezuma's aunt gave a vision that foretold the destruction of Aztecs' famous city of Tenochtitlan (Hicks , 1972). in this vision , she told of men clothed in black stone who rode upon hornless deer. These people were said to burn and hunt down people with Montezuma being one of their casualties . Montezuma thus thought it was time for Quetzalcoatl to return and destroy the people of Tezcatlipoca as he searched for his treasure thus he did not counter their invasion but gave them gold hoping that they would not destroy his empire (Miguel , 1996).
Technological difference between the Spaniards and the natives also played a major role in their success. Although the Aztec were using copper and tin before the invasion , there is no proof that they had metal weaponry (Passuth , 1982). The Spaniards had the best steel in Europe and had therefore very superior weaponry that the Aztec could not counter. The natives had not seen such weapons before hence some fainted at the mere sight of them (Phillips , 1972). Montezuma did very little to counter the Spaniards invasion and the little recorded was sending of wise men and sorcerers to stop the advance of the enemy. They reported failure to him and this increased his fears and those of the Aztec in general (Prescott , 1996).
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Disease also played a major role in the success of the Spaniards. They brought several diseases to the land of the Aztec from Europe. These diseases included smallpox which killed a very big percentage of the natives (Restall , 2003). Twenty million natives are said to have died within 100 years translating to a 70 percent decrease in their population. The effects of disease were so high that villages were depopulated within a very short spell of time. Measles was another disease which greatly devastated the Aztec population (Prescott , 1996). Spaniards had developed immunity towards these diseases hence were not affected much by them. A mysterious disease is also said to have attacked the natives. This mysterious disease did not affect the Spaniards as much as it attacked the natives also (Robin, 1997).
The Aztec ceremonial traditions made them highly vulnerable to the diseases. They practiced cannibalism by eating the corpses or certain organs of the sacrificial victims hence contracted diseases through this (Robin, 1997).
Four things thus played a major role in the ultimate defeat of the Aztec. These are: poor technology hence poor weaponry , disease , religion and finally native allies.
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