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Conquering the Incas - Essay Example

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The year was 1519 when Motecuhzoma Xocoyotl greeted conquistador Hernan Cortes and welcomed him to his empire, and his great capital city of Tenochtitlan. The conquistador and his retinue of fellow soldiers and men were shocked at what they saw, for in their eyes it was the most beautiful empire that they had ever laid eyes on, with its ring of lakes and rich agriculture that reached up sloping mountainsides, tended to by as many as three million inhabitants that called the city and its surrounding areas home1…
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Download file to see previous pages The History of the Aztecs The civilization that has come to be known as the “Aztecs” was by no means made up of one, solitary culture. It was first made up of migratory barbarians, called “the last of the Nahautal-speaking cultures”, that wandered the area from the great migration out of the northern city of Tula, late in the twelfth century2. It is believed that the Aztec originally migrated from the island of Aztlan, which would come to be substantiated by their name, Aztec, meaning “people of Aztlan”3. Furthermore, they did not call themselves “Aztecs”, but “Mexica”, or “Colhua-Mexica”, in keeping with their lineage4. The Mexica people, or the Aztecs as they are now known, held no friends among their neighbors. Shunned largely because they were not a polite, civilized tribe, but made up of vicious barbarians willing to do whatever it took to survive, they migrated towards the Valley of Mexico and lived on the fringes of society, as they were the last of the peoples to settle in the area and by no means welcomed to it5. It was on the islands of Lake Texcoco in 1345, surrounded by marsh conditions, that they found refuge6. Unfortunately, they had not picked a desirable spot in which to settle. The land itself was fine, and suitable for their pursuits; this was hardly the problem. The issue lay in the fact that they were distinctly in the middle of two kingdoms, Azcapotzalco and Texcoco7. Though the first three kings of the Aztecs ruled as vassals for the despot king of Azcapotzalco, it was in the year 1426, when Itzcoatl, a direct descendent of the first Aztec king, ascended to the throne, the tensions between the Aztec and the Tepanec lords of Azcapotzalco reached the breaking point8. War broke out, though the Aztecs did their best to evade this, both by sending a special messenger and offering diplomatic relations9. The new king, however, possessed the gifts of leadership and speech; he gave one such speech that ignited the passions of his people and led them to war10. When all was said and done, a new alliance had been formed, the Triple Alliance between Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan, which would become the heart of the Aztec Empire11. These acts set the stage for a new way of life for the Aztecs, a life as a warrior people. Though in truth the life that they were now leading had come full circle from the days of their savage barbarism when they first migrated into their lands, it is not hard to imagine the years of subjugated rule taking their toll on such a proud people. It is from Itzcoatl that Montezuma I (Montezuma the Elder), and his son, Montezuma II (Montezuma the Younger) would descend12. The younger Montezuma would meet headfirst the Spaniard contingents, headed by Hernan Cortes, and face the downfall of his empire. Hernan Cortes The man that would cause the downfall of the Aztec empire was born in 1485 in Medellin, a town that was considered “an unimportant town in Estremadura”13. His parents were poor, though able to send him to university at the age of fourteen, where he was prepared for a career in law, due to the fact ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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