By the end of this section, girlfriend will:Explain the reasons of exploration and also conquest that the brand-new World by assorted European nationsExplain how and also why European and Native American perspectives that others arisen and adjusted in the period

Suggested Sequencing

This have to be used following the First Contacts Narrative and also the Cortés’ Account of Tenochtitlan, 1522 Primary Source.

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The ninth ruler of the Aztec Empire, Montezuma, was not overly came to by the report he had actually just received. Because that the past few years, his spies had actually been informing him of the activities of the Spanish and also their expeditions. Now, in 1519, a report concerned him of an additional group of international men comes from the Yucatan Peninsula and entering the eastern borders of his main Mexican empire. Montezuma resided at a distance from the coast in the capital city of Tenochtitlan, i beg your pardon is today Mexico City. A strong ruler who had actually aggressively expanded the Aztec realm to its height, Montezuma sweet his choices concerning this brand-new expedition before deciding whether to welcome the leader, Hernando Cortés.

Montezuma led realm that served its patron deity through the capture and also sacrifice of war captives. He was no stranger to warfare and certainly was no intimidated by Cortés and his Spanish companions. Prefer other indigenous Americans, Montezuma viewed the moustache white Spaniards through curiosity, however he taken that they were just as mortal together he was, and certainly no gods. The said, he confronted not just Cortés and his couple of hundred Spaniards but also thousands of Spain’s native American allies, plenty of from Montezuma’s unbeatable military rival and neighbor, Tlaxcala. Montezuma hence knew the Spaniards might successfully protect themselves in battle. Not only did your steel swords host a decisive benefit over the obsidian axes and also clubs provided by the indigenous Americans of main Mexico but the Spaniards could also garner assistance from towns at odds v the Aztecs, which could supply them through food and also warriors.

Like numerous empires, the Aztec society conquered its next-door neighbors with armed forces might and also forced lock to salary tribute in labor and goods. Even the capital, Tenochtitlan, was organized together by political and also military persuasion, which permitted tensions come simmer under the surface. Because that example, back the city the Tlatelolco was incorporated into Tenochtitlan together a sister city in the fifteenth century, it had been at odds with Tenochtitlan and also its rulers long before the Spaniards come (its residents later blamed Montezuma because that the Aztecs’ defeat). Such division provided Cortés with a prepared supply that allies willing to litter off the yoke that Aztec oppression.

Montezuma additionally considered his duty to his people. When confronted with the decision the what come do around Cortés, he could jump headfirst right into war, certainly. Yet a lengthy war could impact the planting and also harvesting season, which would certainly mean scarcity for his subjects. So he determined a more pragmatic approach: Montezuma would welcome and entertain the foreigner, impress him with the greatness that the huge capital city, and persuade him to it is in an ally. If every else failed, Montezuma constantly had the option of war. Because that the benefits of his people and empire, however, a negotiation v Cortés do much much more sense.

Montezuma’s decision to welcome Cortés into his city reflect his strength and also intelligence, no his weakness. Year of reports the Spaniards along the coastline suggested they to be in the americas to stay. Even defeating Cortés outright would only hold-up the inevitable negotiations that should be made with the newcomers. Montezuma rightly concluded that it was far better to negotiate through the Spaniards on his terms, in his city, native a place of strength. After ~ all, Cortés had currently shown self willing to ally v other aboriginal American cities. Surely Montezuma can convince him the he would certainly be the most an useful ally of all and negotiate a deal that would enable him to save his realm intact and his people safe.

Thus Montezuma welcomed and entertained the Spaniards because that a few months. He showed them his temples, the substantial markets where goods from anywhere his realm were sold, his zoo, and also his palaces. Montezuma did no think Cortés to be the reincarnation of an ancient Aztec deity, together some thought at the time. He was just a powerful rival who could be bent come Montezuma’s will and interests.


Images such as this one, in i m sorry Montezuma watches a big comet streak throughout the sky, perpetuated the belief that Montezuma’s superstition to be to blame for the fall of the Aztec empire.

For his part, throughout his remain in Tenochtitlan, Cortés take it every possibility to find for priceless metals and convert Montezuma come Christianity. Montezuma also informed Cortés of his people’s worldview and also deities, your traditions, and also customs. Together a great host, that tolerated few of Cortés’s requests and also even offered one of his daughters come Cortés together a potential wife, in the time-honored fashion of Aztecs building alliances. Yet through his focus on valuable metals and his international religion, Cortés began to wear out his welcome.

Then news from Montezuma’s spies changed everything. In April 1520, they report that approximately 800 Spaniards had actually arrived ~ above the shore with 13 ships. Cortés knew at once that the hostile fleet, led by Panfilo de Narvaez, had definitely come native his disgruntled patron, Diego de Velázquez. Cortés had actually betrayed de Velázquez by embarking on this expedition without permission—an plot of insubordination for which he might be imprisoned. With a Spanish fleet approaching, however, Montezuma experienced his opportunity to get rid of his increasingly bothersome guest and prepared his civilization for war. His decision to welcome Cortés had actually paid off—Montezuma had actually learned all he can of the interlopers and their intentions and also now determined to act.

Aware the his precarious situation, Cortés moved first by imprisoning Montezuma; the exact details the this event are sparse and contradictory. Leave a team of men behind come guard the Aztec emperor, Cortés left for the coastline in might 1520 to deal with the newcomers. He beat the Spanish force, the remnants the which determined to sign up with him. In his absence, however, his men had massacred a team of native Americans gathered come celebrate a religious festival. Relations between the two societies had got to their low point, and when Cortés went back a month later, the Aztecs started their assault. Desperate and also fighting for their lives, the Spaniards fled the city ~ suffering enormous casualties (as walk their indigenous American allies), however they killed Montezuma before they left.

Montezuma’s decision to permit Cortés to enter his city cost him his life and also ended his empire. It to be reasonable for him come assume that the potential benefit of one alliance v the Spaniards to be worth the risk, however in the end it to be a misjudgment. Montezuma fail to attain the result he desired, due to the fact that his realm was overwhelmed by a technologically superior enemy bent on conquest and also wealth.

Review Questions

1. Aboriginal American allies aided the Spanish loss the Aztecs because

the Spanish conquered them an initial and inquiry itthey observed it together an possibility to rid us of Aztec oppressionthey thought the Spanish to be gods and therefore wanted to you re welcome themthey believed aiding the Spanish would rid castle of smallpox

2. Which of the following best describes the context because that the political case in the Aztec capital prior to Cortés’s arrival?

Tenochtitlan was enduring a golden Age.Tenochtitlan to be recovering native a current defeat through the Aztecs’ rivals, the Tlaxcalans.Tenochtitlan was hosted together by political and military might, and also tensions simmered listed below the surface.Tenochtitlan’s upstream had started the procedure of convert to Christianity thanks to missionaries who preceded Cortés’s men.

3. Ultimately, Montezuma invite Cortés right into Tenochtitlan because

Montezuma feel it much better to negotiate on his terms rather than hazard outright warCortés forced his means through the city walls and Montezuma had no choiceMontezuma construed a comet together an omen indicating that should accomplish with the SpanishMontezuma reasoned that refusing to satisfy with the Spanish would lead to an outbreak of disease

4. What modern-day city stands where the Aztec funding of Tenochtitlan once was?

Machu PicchuCuzcoLimaMexico City

5. Teams seeking come discredit the idea the Montezuma make a rational decision come invite the Spanish right into Tenochtitlan would usage which of the complying with to support their argument?

Montezuma believed the Spanish to it is in gods.Montezuma feeling it would certainly be ideal to satisfy the Spanish in his very own city.Montezuma thought he could convince the Spanish to come to be his allies.Montezuma want to avoid outright war before gaining added information about Spanish intentions.

6. What event added to the loss of the Aztecs?

The come of a Spanish fleetA enormous earthquake, i beg your pardon rivals take it an together omen to sign up with the Spanish forcesCortés’s refuse to wed among Montezuma’s daughtersCortés’s repeated focus on looking for precious metals and promoting Catholicism

Free an answer Questions

Analyze the degree to i beg your pardon the major motives of European exploration were reflect in the story that Cortés and also Montezuma.What factors permitted the Spanish to dominate the Aztec Empire? describe your answer.

AP exercise Questions

“‘I know complete well of every that has actually happened come you native Puntunchan to here, and I additionally know how those of Cempoal and also Tascalteca have actually told you much evil of me; think only what friend see with your eyes, because that those are my enemies, and also some were my vassals, and also have rebelled versus me at her coming and also said those points to acquire favor v you. I additionally know that they have actually told girlfriend the walls of my residences are, do of gold, and also that the floor mats in my rooms and other points in my family are similarly of gold, and that ns was, and claimed come be, a god; and many other things besides. The dwellings as girlfriend see room of rock and lime and clay.’

Then he increased his clothes and showed me his body, saying, as he grasped his arms and trunk through his hands, ‘See that ns am that flesh and also blood prefer you and all other men, and I to be mortal and substantial. See how they have lied come you?’”

Montezuma’s Greeting to Hernán Cortés

“Cortés inquiry him: ‘Are you Motecuhzoma? space you the king? Is the true the you space the king Motecuhzoma?’

And the king said: ‘Yes, ns am Motecuhzoma.’ climate 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 trip has worn down you, however now you have actually arrived ~ above the earth. Friend have involved your city, Mexico. You have actually come here to sit on her throne, to sit under that canopy.

‘The majesties who have actually gone before, her representatives, guarded it and also preserved the for her coming. . . .

If just they space watching! If only they deserve to see what ns see!’

‘No, it is not a dream. Ns am no walking in my sleep. I am not seeing you in mine dreams. . . . I have seen you in ~ last. . . .And now you have come the end of the clouds and also mists come sit on her throne again.’

‘This was foretold by the majesties who governed your city, and also now it has actually taken place. You have come ago to us; you have come under from the sky. Remainder now, and take possession of your royal houses. Welcome to your land, my lords!’”

An Aztec account composed after the conquest

Refer come the excerpts provided.

1. According to the first excerpt, i m sorry of the following urged conquistadors choose Cortés come explore and also conquer floor in the brand-new World?

The desire to have friendly connections with the aboriginal AmericansThe desire to acquire wealthThe desire to gain allies against Muslim invaders from the footrest EmpireThe desire to conquer Asia and Africa

2. The second excerpt best supports i m sorry of the complying with conclusions?

Montezuma feeling it would be best to satisfy Cortés in his own city top top his own terms.Montezuma thought he could convince the Spanish to come to be allies v him.Montezuma wanted to prevent outright war prior to gaining extr information about Spanish intentions.Montezuma believed the Spanish to it is in gods.

3. Which group would mostly likely assistance the point of see of the 2nd excerpt?

Cortés and his officersAztec noblesAztec enemies from Cempoal and TascaltecaSpanish missionaries

Primary Sources

Cortés, Hernán. “Modern background Sourcebook: Hernán Cortés: from second Letter come Charles V, 1520.” In The Library of initial Sources, Vol. V: ninth to 16th Centuries, edited by Oliver J. Thatcher, 317–326. Milwaukee: university Research expansion Co., 1907.

LeonPortilla, Miguel. “Modern background Sourcebook: one Aztec Account that the occupation of Mexico.”

Pagden, Anthony, trans. “Moctezuma’s Greeting to Hernan Cortes.”

Suggested Resources

Restall, Matthew. Seven Myths the the Spanish Conquest. Oxford: Oxford college Press, 2004.

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Townsend, Camilla. Malintzin’s Choices: one Indian woman in the occupation of Mexico. Albuquerque: university of new Mexico Press, 2006.