Cortes and the Aztecs
Asa Smith







“I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart which can be cured only with gold.”Hernán Cortés
First Encounters
On November 15th 1519 the Spanish conquistadors first entered the Capital of the Aztecs led by Don Hernando Cortes. Cortes entered the city with six hundred Spainairds and more native allies. The conquistadors had heard fo the many marvels of this city known as Tenochtitlan and now were entering it for real.
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The conquistadors were seen as gods to the Aztecs. The Aztecs assumed that these foreign people were their gods coming back from the waters of the Gulf Of Mexico and gave them a proper homecoming.

In an excerpt from The True History of the Conquest of New Spain Bernal Diaz speaks of his first encounter of the capital city:

Early next day we left Iztapalapa with a large escort of those great Caciques whom I have already mentioned. We proceeded along the Causeway which is here eight paces in width and runs so straight to the City of Mexico that it does not seem to me to turn either much or little, but, broad as it is, it was so crowded with people that there was hardly room for them all, some of them going to and others returning from Mexico, besides those who had come out to see us, so that we were hardly able to pass by the crowds of them that came; and the towers and cues were full of people as well as the canoes from all parts of the lake. It was not to be wondered at, for they had never before seen horses or men such as we are.

An account of the Aztec point of View of the first meeting between Cortes and Motecuhzoma.


Speeches of Motecuhzoma and Cortés
When Motecuhzoma [Montezuma] had given necklaces to each one, Cortés asked him: "Are you Motecuhzoma? Are you the king? Is it true that you are the king Motecuhzoma?"
And the king said: "Yes, I am Motecuhzoma." Then he stood up to welcome Cortés; he came forward, bowed his head low and addressed him in these words: "Our lord, you are weary. The journey has tired you, but now you have arrived on the earth. You have come to your city, Mexico. You have come here to sit on your throne, to sit under its canopy.
"The kings who have gone before, your representatives, guarded it and preserved it for your coming. The kings Itzcoatl, Motecuhzoma the Elder, Axayacatl, Tizoc and Ahuitzol ruled for you in the City of Mexico. The people were protected by their swords and sheltered by their shields.
"Do the kings know the destiny of those they left behind, their posterity? If only they are watching! If only they can see what I see!
"No, it is not a dream. I am not walking in my sleep. I am not seeing you in my dreams.... I have seen you at last! I have met you face to face! I was in agony for five days, for ten days, with my eyes fixed on the Region of the Mystery. And now you have come out of the clouds and mists to sit on your throne again.
"This was foretold by the kings who governed your city, and now it has taken place. You have come back to us; you have come down from the sky. Rest now, and take possession of your royal houses. Welcome to your land, my lords! "
When Motecuhzoma had finished, La Malinche translated his address into Spanish so that the Captain could understand it. Cortés replied in his strange and savage tongue, speaking first to La Malinche: "Tell Motecuhzoma that we are his friends. There is nothing to fear. We have wanted to see him for a long time, and now we have seen his face and heard his words. Tell him that we love him well and that our hearts are contented."

Then he said to Motecuhzoma: "We have come to your house in Mexico as friends. There is nothing to fear."

This feeling of affection was short lived after the spainards massacred those in the palace of the Aztecs


Massacre in the Main Temple
During this time, the people asked Motecuhzoma how they should celebrate their god's fiesta. He said: "Dress him in all his finery, in all his sacred ornaments."
During this same time, The Sun commanded that Motecuhzoma and Itzcohuatzin, the military chief of Tlatelolco, be made prisoners. The Spaniards hanged a chief from Acolhuacan named Nezahualquentzin. They also murdered the king of Nauhtla, Cohualpopocatzin, by wounding him with arrows and then burning him alive.
For this reason, our warriors were on guard at the Eagle Gate. The sentries from Tenochtitlan stood at one side of the gate, and the sentries from Tlatelolco at the other. But messengers came to tell them to dress the figure of Huitzilopochtli. They left their posts and went to dress him in his sacred finery: his ornaments and his paper clothing.
When this had been done, the celebrants began to sing their songs. That is how they celebrated the first day of the fiesta. On the second day they began to sing again, but without warning they were all put to death. The dancers and singers were completely unarmed. They brought only their embroidered cloaks, their turquoises, their lip plugs, their necklaces, their clusters of heron feathers, their trinkets made of deer hooves. Those who played the drums, the old men, had brought their gourds of snuff and their timbrels.
The Spaniards attacked the musicians first, slashing at their hands and faces until they had killed all of them. The singers-and even the spectators- were also killed. This slaughter in the Sacred Patio went on for three hours. Then the Spaniards burst into the rooms of the temple to kill the others: those who were carrying water, or bringing fodder for the horses, or grinding meal, or sweeping, or standing watch over this work.
The king Motecuhzoma, who was accompanied by Itzcohuatzin and by those who had brought food for the Spaniards, protested: "Our lords, that is enough! What are you doing? These people are not carrying shields or macanas. Our lords, they are completely unarmed!"
The Sun had treacherously murdered our people on the twentieth day after the captain left for the coast. We allowed the Captain to return to the city in peace. But on the following day we attacked him with all our might, and that was the beginning of the warexternal image 569px-Codex_Magliabechiano_141_cropped.jpg

The ConquestCortes landed on the coast in April 22, 1519 and the Aztec surrendered to him on August 13, 1521. A very short period of time for such a large empire to collapse at the hand of the outsiders. He used his vastly superior technologuy such as metal armor, horses, swords, guns, and warfare techniques. The Aztecs used tribal warfare techniques, their army consisted of commoners with basic military experience.Cortes had the support of the Tlaxcalans who were the enemies of the Aztecs. The Tlaxcalans gave Cortes an army of six thousand men and full use of its territory. This was vital after the retreat of the spanish who were able to regroup in the Tlaxcalan territory. After the Aztecs fell the Spanish allowed the Tlaxcalan tribe to keep its government and capital.external image map-of-the-aztec-empire.png

When the Aztecs rose up against Cortes, the Spanish were forced to retreat. The Aztecs contracted the smallpox from the dead invaders' bodies. When Cortes returned to the capital, smallpox had devastated the Aztec population. It killed most of the Aztec army, the emperor, and a quarter of the overall population. Cortés then easily defeated the Aztecs and entered Tenochtitlan.



Hernan CortesHernan Cortes was a Lawyer by trade who was driven by the quest for fortune in the new world. He personally led an expedition of six hundred men into Mexico as an expedition of the fabled empire that no Spanaird had seen before. Cortes had one thing in mind, and that was gold. Cortes used a Dona Marina as a translator who was vital to all of Cortes' contacts in the new world. After the destruction of Tenochtitlan, Cortes built a new city on the ruins and had many europeans come over to live and bask in the wealth that was conquored. Cortes then led expeditions to Honduras that lasted two years and discovered the Baja Penninsula. Cortes returned to Spain after politics made him lose his generalship of New Spain. Cortes died back in spain in 1547.



Bibliography:
DIAZ, BERNAL. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, "Victors and Vanquished." Last modified January 2011 . Accessed December 14, 2011. http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/sources/conquestofnewspain.html.


Miguel Leon­Portilla, ed., The Brohen Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), pp. 64­66, 129­131.
Shaw, . Explorers of the Millenium, "HERNÁN CORTÉS (1485-1547)." Last modified January 2001 . Accessed December 14, 2011. http://library.thinkquest.org/4034/cortes.html

LEVY, BUDDY. Conquistadors and the Last Stand Of The Aztecs. New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2008.