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Mon May 24, 2021, 12:04 AM

How Hernan Cortes Conquered the Aztec Empire

UPDATED:MAY 21, 2021O RIGINAL:MAY 20, 2021

Tenochtitlán, the capital city of the Aztec Empire, flourished between A.D. 1325 and 1521—but was defeated less than two years after the arrival of Spanish invaders led by Cortés.


The Aztec Empire, Mesoamerica’s dominant power in the 15th and early 16th centuries, controlled a capital city that was one of the largest in the world. Itzcoatl, named leader of the Aztec/Mexica people in 1427, negotiated what has become known as the Triple Alliance—a powerful political union of the city-states of Mexico-Tenochtitlán, Tetzcoco and Tlacopán. As that alliance strengthened between 1428 and 1430 it reinforced the leadership of the Aztecs, making them the dominant Nahua group in a land mass that covered central Mexico and extended as far as modern-day Guatemala.

And yet Tenochtitlán was swiftly conquered by the Spanish in 1521—less than two years after Hernándo Cortés and Spanish conquistadors first set foot in the Aztec capital on November 8, 1519. How did Cortés manage to overthrow the seat of the Aztec Empire?

Tenochtitlán: A Dominant Imperial City

Tenochtitlan, the ancient capital of the Aztec empire, and the Valley of Mexico.

DeAgostini/Getty Images

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Aztec imperial city in 1519, Mexico-Tenochtitlán was led by Moctezuma II. The city had prospered and was estimated to host a population of between 200,000 and 300,000 residents.

At first the conquistadors described Tenochtitlán as the greatest city they had ever seen. It was situated on a human-made island in the middle of Lake Texcoco. From its central location, Tenochtitlán served as a hub for Aztec trade and politics. It featured gardens, palaces, temples and raised roads with bridges that connected the city to the mainland.


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Reply How Hernan Cortes Conquered the Aztec Empire (Original post)
Judi Lynn May 2021 OP
TlalocW May 2021 #1
abqtommy May 2021 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 24, 2021, 12:23 AM

1. Very good summary

I remember seeing a documentary that took the tact of film crews existed back then so they would talk about different aspects of the conquest, and they would cut to a Spanish soldier or Aztec warrior to give some color commentary on what had happened. A lot of it came from, "True History of the Conquest of New Spain," by Bernal Diaz del Castillo who served under Cortes.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 24, 2021, 06:12 AM

2. The short summary of the cause of this conquest is one word, "violence". And it's good to

know that to this day there are no statues or memorials of Cortes in Mexico. Thanks for this op.

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