How 600 Soldiers Destroyed the Aztec Empire and Conquered Most of Mexico

The Beginning

A new world opened and the old one was in confusion. Many people were confused about the fact that they discovered something new and had no idea for years what it was. Once this discovery was confirmed people started panicking. First were the Spain’s to start colonizing the new world but the problem was that other civilizations lived at the newly discovered world. One of them was the strong Aztec Empire.

This empire was newly founded and was covering a big part of today’s Mexico. The Empires structure was still unstable and many of the tribes that the Aztecs conquered were revolting against them. The Aztecs were fearless warriors with a pretty complex social and religious structure. The Aztecs ruled with fear and their sacrificial rituals increased it overall. They sacrificed their enemies alive to please their gods. Many of the conquered tribes united with the Spanish to destroy the mean Aztecs. In the end they got what they wanted but the price was costly. The Spaniards didn’t enslave the people but instead they used them as a work force which is very similar. They exploited them and many people died from sickness, hunger, overworked or were killed. This made the population to be depleted and in order to fill the work force they imported slaves from Africa.

Hernán Cortés (1485 – 1519)

The Collapse of the Aztec empire was made by a soldier named Hernan Cortes. He was very young at the age of 19 when he departed to the new world as a servant of the crown. Hernan was well educated, he studied in the school of Salamis. He wanted to travel in the New world for money and later he achieved that goal and built a name for himself in the Spanish kingdom.

There was an expedition by the Spains in 1516 to 1518 at the Mexican coast. They knew that this land was rich and full with natural resources but as mentioned there was an already existing empire spanding accross Mexico. In the year 1519 an expedition was made and Hernan was the leader of it.

The Expedition

Around 400 Spanish soldiers, 16 mounted soldiers and 200 native American’s were used for this conquest. They also used some canons but their strength in numbers was pretty weak considering that the Aztecs could deploy ten times more troops than this. So how did they won?

Well the Aztec state was really weak at the moment, as explained above and they had a lot of enemies. Firstly the Spaniards got help from the local tribes in the conquest. The tribes or kingdoms that helped the Spaniards were Totonacs and Tlaxcaltecas. There were a lot of battles but they weren’t so effective, mostly ambushes with a hit and run tactic. In the meantime there was a rebellion that spawned in the Aztec cities because of a massacre made by them. People were outraged and this helped speed up the process. The massacre was called “The Alvarado Massacre” it was in the main temple in the Aztec capital. There wasn’t much conflict here, it was luck if you look at it. Most of the Aztecs got sick by smallpox, also famine took place. They died and a whole population of the Aztec empire was swept. Only around 15 000 to 25 000 people survived. The Spaniards conquered them easily and New Spain was born and today is known as Mexico. The conquest ended in 1521.

People were amazed by their culture and religion, they even had developed sports. Such a complex civilization was swiped away instantly. Their capital was build on canals and it was related to Venice. Here is an image: