Battle of Tenochtitlán, (May 22–August 13, 1521), military engagement between the Aztecs and a coalition of Spanish and indigenous combatants. Even the day of their departure from the capital depended on the choice of a favourable day, taken from a tonalamatl or sacred Book of Days or Fates, read by a trained soothsayer.The daily lives of all Aztec people - from naming a baby to finding a good day to travel, wed, fight a battle, plant seeds, and much more... - were strictly ruled by these sacred, screenfold, books, with their multiple cycles of time. The Aztec scouts had been instructed by Moctezuma to offer valuable gifts to the Spanish (in return the Spanish gave the Aztecs cheap mirrors and other tacky bling), to take careful notes, and to ask the Spanish to proceed no further inland. Cortés's conquest has been depicted in numerous television documentaries. The belief that the Spanish were exceptional and had the Christian god on their side, for example, was perhaps one of the biggest motivations for engaging in warfare with the Aztecs.  Another witness, Vázquez de Tapia, claimed the death toll was as high as 30,000. And Restall thinks the implications reach even further. Indigenous allies' accounts stress their loyalty to the Spaniards and their particular aid as being key to the Spanish victory. The Spanish authorized expeditions or entradas for the discovery, conquest, and colonization of new territory, using existing Spanish settlements as a base. SECTION 2: Controlling the EmpireA) Territorial expansion and the nature of warfareThe Aztecs held that they were on a (divine) mission - both to dominate peoples all over the known world and to wage a cosmic struggle between the forces of light and dark on behalf of all. Over the course of 93 days, the Spanish and their allies mounted assault after assault on the Aztec defenders, gradually wearing them down. However, it did not completely end the aspirations of those members of his company who remained loyal to the Governor of Cuba. An artistic rendering of the retreat of Hernán Cortés from Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, in 1520. Moctezuma and his papas were furious at the suggestion, with Moctezuma claiming his idols, "give us health and rain and crops and weather, and all the victories we desire. By the time of the Spanish invasion, ‘the greatest military empire the Western Hemisphere has ever known’ controlled most of northern Mesoamerica: over 400 city-states (some 5 million people), covering most of today’s central and southern Mexico, and extending down to Guatemala, an area of over 77,000 square miles.What we call a ‘city-state’ was called in Nahuatl altepetl. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. The other, Gerónimo de Aguilar, happily rejoined his countrymen and was to play a crucial role interpreting for the Spanish. hide caption. According to Cortés, Montezuma immediately recognized the divine right of the Spanish and the Catholic Church to rule these lands and he surrendered his empire. However, all the proscriptions and prohibitions regarding Moctezuma and his court had been established by Moctezuma and were not part of traditional Aztec customs. This is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The indigenous people of Central Mexico had practices rendering labor and tribute products to their polity's elites and those elites to the Mexica overlords in Tenochtitlan, so the Spanish system of encomienda was built on pre-existing patterns of labor service. ), clearly shows the symbols that represented conquest, both of towns and of individuals: a defeated altepetl was shown as a toppled and burning temple, and a captured warrior crouching before his Aztec victor who grasps the captive’s forelock (a lock of hair over the forehead).In both cases what is meant is not just the physical victory but the surrender of energy, soul and ‘essence’ of the loser in battle. The sacrificial component of Aztec culture, among other things, is what the Spanish used to justify their claim that the natives were barbaric. On this occasion, Cortés shrewdly won them over with bribes. Of the 9 rulers who expanded Aztec control to frontiers way beyond Tenochtitlan, most, but with some poor exceptions, were hugely successful - in particular Ahuitzotl, who ruled for 16 years from 1486 and grew the Aztec state into a true empire, reaching from Atlantic to Pacific coasts, and his nephew, the legendary Moctezuma II, who ruled from 1502 until 1520 when he died a hostage in Spanish hands. The famous conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, coming to the aid of acting governor Cristóbal de Oñate, led an attack on Nochistlán. Much has been made of the idea that the Aztecs had witnessed several strange omens in the months and years prior to the Conquest, paralysing them with fear for their impending doom. Anonymous informants of Sahagún, Florentine codex, book XII, chapter XVI, translation from Nahuatl by Angel Ma. About 500 Spanish conquistadors — ragged from skirmishes, a massacre of an Indigenous village and a hike between massive volcanoes — couldn't believe what they saw: an elegant island city in a land that Europeans didn't know existed until a few years before.  Many Spanish accounts incorporated omens to emphasize what they saw as the preordained nature of the conquest and their success as Spanish destiny.
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