Conquest of Mexico

Around 1518, the land where today Mexico stands was occupied by many indigenous nations, some more civilized than others.

On the other hand, after the expeditions held by Hernandez de Cordoba and Grijalva by the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf shores, there were enough reasons to send a third one prepared to invade and loot. Hernan Cortez had confrontations with a decadent Maya culture that didn’t have much to offer but resistance. On the contrary, when defeated the lords of Tabasco showed evidence of a rich and abundant source of treasures in their tribute.

Indians pointed west when the Spanish asked about the origin of such wonders, and thanks to one of the presents, slave girl Malinche who spoke Maya as well as Nahua, Cortez realized not only about the existence of a rich and powerful empire, but also about the large number of enemies it had due to their conquest and control methods. Meanwhile, news about bearded men coming on floating homes was quickly brought to the ears of Emperor Montezuma.

The Emperor sent out an embassy to reach the Spanish in Veracruz, with the only purpose of convincing them to head back to the East. Stories about how hard and cruel Aztec armies were got fear into Cortez’s men souls (some even say he had to burn his ships to avoid cowards to flee back to Cuba). However, the presents brought by the Aztec embassy cheered them up.

In the campaign towards the capital city, Cortez skillfully established secret alliances with unhappy peoples. The largest and most important in the strategy were the Tlaxcalan, which recently recovered freedom from the Aztecs but were isolated in the middle of the empire, in a sort of embargo. In spite of the alleged peace message on behalf of Emperor Charles V, many embassies more tried to stop Cortez march to the Great Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan was a difficult fortress to trespass in itself, and even when many days went by in apparent tranquility; tension grew among Nahua people while the Spanish plotted the city looting and withdrawal. The riot was uncontrollable, in the first strike the Nahua were victorious and the Spanish fled through the north to Tlaxcala, where they reassembled their army. On the second strike the Spanish found a city devastated by smallpox and hunger. The downfall of the empire was quick.

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