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In short, the European expansion paved the way for a new age, a new beginning, and a major turning point in history. This major victory marked the beginning of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Soon, an alliance was forged between the Spanish and the Tlaxcalans. This was nothing new for the Aztecs. Cortes and most of his most important lieutenants survived, however, and they made their way back to friendly Tlaxcala to rest and regroup. Between 1519 and 1521 the Spanish, under the leadership of conquistador Hernan Cortés, conquered the Aztec Empire. [3], However, soon, while Cortés was away, Spanish soldiers attacked and killed many Aztecs during a festival. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the ​Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. The relentless pressure proved effective, and the city was slowly worn down. Every day, Cortes' top lieutenants — Gonzalo de Sandoval, Pedro de Alvarado and Cristobal de Olid — and their men assaulted the causeways leading into the city while Cortes, leading the small navy of brigantines, bombarded the city, ferried men, supplies, and information around the lake, and scattered groups of Aztec war canoes. In 1515, two of the states in the Aztec Empire rebelled. The pre-eminent partner in the Triple Alliance was the Mexica city of Tenochtitlan. The Spanish colony of New Spain was established and the Aztec Empire had ended. There are many mixed feelings about the impact of the Spaniards in the new world. Over the coming years, Spain would conquer much more of the Americas, conquering other major empires like the Incas. Many received an Encomienda, a village full of Aztecs who were forced to work for them. The two became known as the Catholic Monarchs, with their marriage a personal union that created a relationship between the Crown of Aragon and Castile, each with their own administrations, but ruled jointly by the two monarchs. He spent several decades in the Spanish colony studying Aztec history and mythology, including the supposed omens that Moctezuma II received before the arrival of the Spanish. The Spanish conquest was devastating to the Aztec people. Within a couple of weeks, Montezuma had allowed himself to be taken hostage, a semi-willing "guest" of the intruders. After spending a couple of weeks there, Cortes learned of a plot to ambush the Spanish when they left the city. [4], For weapons, Aztec warriors had a few choices:[4], None of these weapons could compare to the conquistadors' guns and steel swords. This event is called the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. The first emissaries from the Aztecs arrived, bearing gifts and seeking information about these interlopers. At first, Montezuma II, the Aztecs' ruler, invited the Spanish into Tenochtitlan, and things were friendly. This event is called the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. However, soon, while Cortés was away, Spanish … They started a siege of Tenochtitlan, so that no food or supplies could get in. [1], In 1515, two of the states in the Aztec Empire rebelled. The literature, both published and unpublished, of the 16th century is enormous and takes in all aspects of Aztec culture. Five hundred years ago, in February of 1519, the Spaniard Hernán Cortés set sail from Cuba to explore and colonize Aztec civilization in the Mexican interior. Conquistadors by Margaret Duncan Coxhead Bad Omens Between 1519 and 1521, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztec Empire. Sahagún was a Franciscan friar who went to New Spain (modern Mexico) in 1529, following the conquest of the Aztec Empire. The rich gifts, meant to buy off the Spanish and make them go away, had the opposite effect: they wanted to see the riches of the Aztecs for themselves. Under this system, the Spanish created mines to mine for gold to export to other countries. During the Spaniards retreat, they defeated a large Aztec army at Otumba and then rejoined their Tlaxcaltec allies. All three cultures were located on the shores and islands of Lake Texcoco. This description is based primarily on written documents from the 16th century but also includes some archaeological data. Cortes returned in late June and decided that the city could not be held. During the same 160 years – from 1520 to 1680 – between 85% and 95% of Mesoamerica's native population died. Most importantly for the Spanish, an epidemic of smallpox broke out in Mesoamerica, slaying millions, including countless warriors and leaders of Tenochtitlan. He did it through a combination of luck, courage, political savvy and advanced tactics and weapons. This happened for a few reasons:[1], After taking over the Aztec Empire, the Spanish conquistadors moved on to take over other parts of Mesoamerica. Cortes ordered the construction of thirteen brigantines, large boats which could sail or be rowed and which would tip the balance while assaulting the island. The Spanish tried to change the Aztecs into Catholics and make them act like Spanish people. Between 1519 and 1521, Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, overthrew the Aztec Empire. Millions of people in 38 provinces paid tribute to the Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1521. By bringing the Aztec Empire under the rule of Spain, he set events in motion which would result in the modern-day nation of Mexico. Another important example of Aztec architecture is the archaeological site of Tenayuca. [2], Then, in April 1519, Spanish conquistadors, led by Cortés, arrived on the coast of Mexico. In August they marched to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish introduced the encomienda system. Most of the conquistadors did receive large tracts of land, however. This unspeakable tragedy was a great lucky break for Cortes, as his European soldiers were largely unaffected by this disease. The Mexica originated from northern Mexico. These include in an episode of Engineering an Empire as well as in the BBC series Heroes and Villains, with Cortés being portrayed by Brian McCardie. They were welcomed by Montezuma and put in a sumptuous palace. By 1680, 94% of the Aztec population had died. Spain had finally arrived at the Aztec Empire! 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