Aztecs 2 Essay Research Paper The Aztecs

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Aztecs 2 Essay, Research Paper The Aztecs were the most powerful empire of in all of the New World. For hundreds of years, their empire dominated all other tribes, giving themselves more and more power. It took a great amount of luck and leadership to defeat the mighty Aztecs. Hernando Cortes, led by his desire for gold, took on the Aztecs and succeeded. Pride, diseases, weaponry, unity, and trickery from the Spanish all helped to halt the Aztec s rapid growth and remove them from power in Mexico. The first of the Aztecs entered the Valley of Mexico, which held many advanced civilizations. Those civilizations had productive farms and giant stone cities (Marks 119). The Aztecs first settled on the shores of lake Texcoco. They became mercenaries, which directed them towards

forming a great and skillful army (Stein 27). They permanently settled on an island that they built their capital city on; Tenochtitlan, Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus, became the start of a powerful empire (Faber 116). After defeating neighboring tribes, the Aztecs developed agriculture, engineering, and government. Enormous growth from their victories led to detailed transportation systems and more than forty temples and pyramids in the capital (Stein 27). The pyramids and temples were used as worship grounds for many of the different gods. Rain gods, fire gods, and harvest gods were only a few of the gods that they worshiped. They believed that every natural occurrence in their daily life was due to a god. The Aztecs practiced human sacrifice to please a god, often killing

many prisoners from previous wars. They believed that the gods would punish them if they did not give them enough bloody sacrifices. For example, Huitzilopochtil, the hummingbird, was believed to take the strength of the Aztec soldiers and cause great deterioration the empire (Stein 29). Hernando Cortes, the man who was to bring down the empire, was born in Medellin, Spain in 1485 to Martin Cortes de Monroy, and Dona Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. He attended the University of Salamanca to study law, but showed little interest in books (Faber 118). He was a very curious and idle young boy, and sailed to the New World in 1504. He was part of the conquest of Cuba. His conquests were driven by his desire for gold and wealth. Deeply in debt for his luxurious clothing and ships, he set

sail from Cuba on February 10, 1519, to Mexico (Faber 119). When Cortes landed on Mexico the Aztec king, Moctezuma, got word from one of his runners that a man with light skin and advanced weapons had arrived. He was sure that this was Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec god whom Tezcatlipoca had defeated and forced into exile. Quezalcoatl left Mexico saying that he would return later. Convinced that Cortes was Quetzalcoatl, the Aztecs showered the Spaniards with gold and other fabulous gifts. Cortes and his men became more and more anxious to see the capital. He wrecked all of the ships so that nobody could run away for safety. He was determined to conquer the Aztecs. Cortes started inward towards the capital city, Tenochtitlan. He met an Indian woman named Marina Dona who had learned

Spanish and became a Christian. She became a translator who played a giant role in their conquest. As Cortes marched towards the capitol, Moctezuma sent messengers who gave them more gifts. They also told Cortes Do not come to Tenochtitlan. Turn back. We will give you gold. Turn back. Cortes continued further (Hakim 92). He heard many stories of the power that the Aztecs and Moctezuma had. Dona Marina said that these people were mostly farmers and despised the Aztecs. He finally reached Tenochtitlan and gasped at the sheer beauty of the city. It was a five-mile square on an island. Three bridges that could be raised for any incoming attacks directed out of the city. Houses were a shade of chalky white or earth-red. Over 350,000 people lived in the capital (Hakim 93). They were