The principle factors and circumstances which brought about the defeat of the Aztecs
There were many factors and circumstances that brought about the defeat of the Aztecs. From the cunning and fortitude of, the Spaniard, Hernan Cortes, both the religious beliefs of the Spanish and of Moctezuma, and the effects of the Spaniards weapons of mass destruction, smallpox. There are of course many other factors but I would say these were the three most important.
Moctezuma believed and ancient prophesies stated that Quetzalquatl, the bearded, fair-skinned, Toltec ruler god, would return to the East in the year Ce Acatl to reclaim his kingdom. Coincidentally 1519 was the year Ce Acatl. There were a heap of other coincidences, such as the waters of Lake Texcoco had suddenly boiled up flooding the island of Tenochtitlan. An inexplicable conflagration had consumed the temple of Huitzilopochtli. The voice of a woman wailing, in the night, had repeatedly been reported throughout the city. Comets were seen shooting through the sky and columns of fire had appeared to the East every night for an entire year. To Moctezuma, these were all signs of Quetzalcoatl’s return. With all these coincidences combined Moctezuma decided was cordial with Cortes and not militant.
One of the faults Moctezuma made was to give the Spaniards trinkets and jewelry. Moctezuma thought that by giving these things to the Spanish that they will just return from whence they came, but instead this made the Spaniards appetites insatiable. With Cortes in the lead the Spanish went on a rampage through Mexico toward the Aztec capital. The first to be conquered by the Spanish was the mountain people of Tlaxcala, who were able to defy the Aztec’s for a long time had fallen to superior tactics and weaponry. Next was Cholula, which tried to ambush the Spaniards, but with the help of Cortes’ native maiden, Dona Marina, Cortes ambushed the Cholulan and left thousands of men dead. Finally Cortes had made it to Moctezuma’s door step. Moctezuma threw ceremonies and banquets for Cortes. Cortes was very aware of the place he and his men were in and tried to secure some sort of safety he had Moctezuma taken captive. Cortes had to deal with Spaniards sent by the Cuban Governor to arrest him and he had left the garrison commander, Pedro de Alvarado in charge. Alvarado saw the Aztecs do their religious sacrifices and saw it alarming enough to attack the Aztecs. This attack sent the population into rebellion which then lead to the death of many natives.
With all of battles and pillaging against the native population the biggest killer came in the form of Biological weaponry known as smallpox. This weapon did more damage in Latin America than spanish steel ever could. Smallpox killed an estimated 3.5 million Aztecs. Along with Latin America you can see the effects of small pox all over the world throughout recorded history, whether it be Latin America, North America, and even Africa. I would have to say that even if Cortes came and made friends with all the natives, smallpox, still would have led to the defeat of the Aztecs along with the rest of the Americas.
Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
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