Forgot your password?

The fall of the Aztec empire

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 2

A story of trust, ignorance, treachery, and deceit

Hernando Cortez VS. Moctezuma


The Aztec way of living

The Aztec civilization flourished on the 13th century in the midst of the Mexican valley (now Mexico City). Their civilization is one of the attention-grabbing subjects of studies of the archaeologists. Their culture is different and is somehow horrifying. It is in their civilization where the human sacrifices were known. This civilization has a strong belief and faith with their gods; they believe that everything that is happening in their ethnic groups has connection with their gods. If they are experiencing drought, then their gods might be angry or annoyed with them; so to please their gods, it has been a tradition to offer something to him. This civilization merely depends on what the nature will offer them; a natural and simple way of living. I love their stories; it brings thrill and excitement to me. Actually, there are a lot to learn and discover from this civilization. Have it ever crossed your mind that "what if", what if they are still living? i mean, what if their civilizations didn't vanish or we're still living the way they live their lives many years ago? Are you going to survive?

Like any other community, the Aztec people have customs and traditions that they follow.

  1. They practice arranged marriage like the Chinese people. Parents of both sides will decide whom to tie their daughter/son with. The whole ceremony is based on their zodiac arrangement and compatibility. 
  2. A man can have secondary wives aside from the primary wife. All of his wives shall get recognition, equal treatment, and love except that the primary wife solely experiences the legal ceremony.
  3. The child from the primary wife shall inherit all the properties of his father. When it comes to the throne, it is also the primary child who shall get the place.

Step Pyramid: Blood as the theme

Mesoamerican architecture is one of the most interesting architectures of the Ancient history.  If Egypt has the pyramids of Giza, Mesoamerica also has the step pyramids of the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, and a lot more ethnic groups.  Pyramids from Egypt are used to honour their great pharaohs who already passed away; these massive structures serve as their tombs which are built by forced labor of the peasants. They do this because of another strange belief the reincarnation. When someone dies, his spirit will step out of his body and stray; but when the right time comes, he will then again go back to his body. That's why Egyptians preserved bodies of their pharaohs. It is important that when the spirit finally returns, the body will still be intact for it to enter. 

But in the Mesoamerican areas, it is dissimilar; dissimilar in a sense that unlike the pharaohs of the Egyptians, the Aztecs didn't get the chance to meet their gods. However, due to their unquestionable faith, they started building temples. The kind of temples they built is far different from the pyramids of Egypt in form and function. These step pyramids that they built are use as offering temple. Atop the pyramid is another structure where the priest stays for the sacrificial rights. Basically, blood is the main theme of their sacrifices. Blood is what runs in our veins and its God who made this possible. Every one of us are responsible to pay our debt to him so as the Aztec people. The most famous and the most talked about sacrificial rights of the Aztecs is none other than the human sacrifice. However, it is not only humans their offering to their gods, though they did human sacrifices; they also offer animals and foods from the nature. If there’s a ritual right, expect a bloody one. They cut themselves and water the land through their bloods; a belief that is said to pay their debts to their gods. 

There are actually two types of Mesoamerican step pyramid; the common step pyramid that has a single staircase and the Aztec pyramid that has two staircases. Why two? Well, we’ve discussed a while back that these pyramids are built to impress their gods’ right? Aztec people in attempt to impress their gods believe that it is better to have two sacrifices simultaneously in one ceremony. 


The coming of the god Quetzalcoatl

Mesoamerica way back the 13th century is abundant of gold and wealth but people live in a simple way. They don’t treat gold as their god like the Spaniards who are already living in a luxurious way of life. It is in 1519 when the Spaniards touched down Mexico. But, who specifically lead the expedition to Mexico?

At the age of 19, wealth and power is the most important thing to a boy named Hernando Cortez. He always wanted to prove himself worthy of something. With this attitude, he impressed Governor Diego Vasquez; though this impressive characteristic also brought him harm. The governor doubted his loyalty and planned to remove him on the supposedly third expedition he will lead. When Cortez knew about the Governor’s plan, he made his own plan giving him more advantages. He wrote a letter to King Charles V stating his plan of conquering the then wealthy Mexican country in a religious way. This expedition however has always been a dream to him-the conquest of Mexico. Believing in his due proposal, Cortez left his homeland and set off to the Mexican capital.

Looking strange, Hernando Cortez was peacefully accepted in the Mexican capital. With the use of a translator that knew both Mayan and Nahuatl languages, Cortez easily reached the outskirt of Tenochtitlan. There he discovers a lot more population of the Mesoamerican country. As mentioned earlier, ethnic groups of the Mesoamerican country glorify many gods; one of which is Quetzalcoatl. The god Quetzalcoatl is believed to be white-skinned; so seeing Hernando Cortez possessing the same skin texture made them think that he is a descendant of Quetzalcoatl. That accident brought Hernando Cortez another advantage on conquering the area-its wealth and the people dwelling on that place. 


Moctezuma, the tribe leader then believe that Hernando Cortez has come to fulfil the Aztec prophecy and to govern on Aztecs again. The Spaniards gets to be accepted with full hospitality and were even given sumptuous offerings from the Aztecs. But instead of paying the same way, Cortez held the Aztec leader Moctezuma as a prisoner. He feared that if he won’t do such act, he and his followers will be the next human sacrifices. Well, aside from the fear he felt, holding Moctezuma as a captive will help him easily conquer the place and take their wealth with him. 

Blood again stream the land, but this time with the Aztec’s own blood. Massacre of the helpless Aztecs occurred; changing of their gods into Christian gods happened; and massacre of their own leader Moctezuma happen, directing them to revolt. They fought hard for the families that died, for the land that now treats them as strangers, for the gods that were replace, and for a leader that departed them forever. The uprising of the Aztecs again brought fear to Cortez and his followers. They escape and went to Tenochtitlan. There they unite with the Aztec’s enemies and barricaded the poor groups with their only necessities-water and food. The war between the Spaniards and the Aztecs stung the ethnic group severely. Disease consumes the innocent people and leads them to death; partly making the Aztec civilization vanish. Wanting to wash away the Aztec empire, Cortez’s group left the place in wreck; making it hardly visible to notice if there was once a civilization flourished there. So, that’s it! The story of trust, ignorance, treachery and deceit. 




Jul 9, 2012 6:04am
Thank you for a good and detailed 'story' about Cortez and the Aztecs. Thumbs up!
Jul 9, 2012 6:21am
Thanks for reading! :)
I don't intend to put Cortez's individuality; just telling stories based from researches.
Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB History