The discovery of America
Many people in Europe were confused about the fact that they discovered something new and had no idea for years what it was.
The Spanish were first to start colonizing the new world.
The problem was that other civilizations lived in the newly discovered world.
One of them was the strong Aztec Empire.
This empire was covering a big part of today’s Mexico.
The Empire’s structure was still unstable and many of the tribes that the Aztecs conquered were revolting against them.
The Aztecs were fierce warriors with a pretty complex social and religious structure.
The Aztecs ruled with fear and their sacrificial rituals were not popular with their enemies, as they would sacrifice their enemies alive to please their gods.
Many of the conquered tribes united with the Spanish to destroy the Aztecs.
In the end, they got what they wanted.
The Spaniards didn’t enslave the people but instead, they used them as a workforce.
They exploited them, and many people died from sickness and hunger.
This depleted the population and in order to fill the workforce, they imported slaves from Africa.
Hernán Cortés and his role in the fall of the Aztec Empire (1485 – 1519)
The Collapse of the Aztec empire can be directly linked to a soldier named Hernan Cortes.
Cortes was very young, 19, when he departed to the new world as a servant of the Spanish crown.
Hernan was well educated and wanted to travel to the New world for money and build a name for himself in the Spanish kingdom.
There was an expedition led by the Spanish from 1516 to 1518 to the Mexican coast where they found a land rich and full of natural resources.
But as mentioned, there was an already existing empire spanning across Mexico.
In the year 1519, Cortes led an expedition from Spain to Mexico.
The expedition led by Cortes
Around 400 Spanish soldiers, 16 mounted soldiers, and 200 native American’s were used for this conquest.
The Aztec state 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 mostly ambushes with a hit and run strategy.
At the same time, there was a rebellion that spawned in the Aztec cities because of a massacre called “The Alvarado Massacre” in the main temple in the Aztec capital.
Most of the Aztecs then got smallpox as they had no immunity to this disease.
Only around 15000 to 25000 people survived.
The Spaniards conquered them easily and New Spain was born – today it is known as Mexico.
The conquest ended in 1521.
Only after the fall of the Aztecs, Europeans became amazed by their culture and religion, and sports.
Such a complex civilization was wiped away instantly.
The Aztec capital was built on canals and looked similar to Venice. Here is an image: