They were there long enough to start a smallpox epidemic in Tenochtitlán, however. He set out to rule them. In what is now Veracruz, he met with an emissary of this nation, and demanded a meeting with the Aztec Emperor Montezuma. More than 3 million Aztecs died from smallpox, and with such a severely weakened population, it was easy for the Spanish to take Tenochtitlán. The result? "Xicotenga, a ruler in the city Tlaxcala, saw an ally in Cortés, and an opportunity to destroy the Aztec empire. The Spanish were forced to flee the city, losing many of their men and much of their gold. Velasquez canceled the voyage at the last minute. Hernan Cortés was the Spanish conquistador that led the expedition to explore and conquer the Aztec Empire. (Image credit: Public domain. For the Aztecs, communication revolved around education, language, trade and contact with others. Eventually, Cortés' Spanish wife came to Mexico. They believed sacrifice was a privilege, and were able to accept that violent death was a necessary part of life. Photo: Wikipedia. Next, Cortés sailed around the tip of the Yucatan to a spot in the Maya territory of Tabasco he’d heard was loaded with gold and silver. "In the 15th century, Europe, Asia, and Africa were at the epicenter of a global exchange of goods; also, for Europeans, curiosities of different cultures continued to emerge. ", Cortés and La Malinche had a child together named Martin, who is sometimes called "El Mestizo." 29 September 2017. In 1504, at age 19, Cortés set sail for the New World. While Cortes fought a Spanish force on the coast, his men massacred Aztec priests. You will receive a verification email shortly. Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, Spain. As well, at the start of the final battles for Tenochtitlan, the Spanish … Aztecs. Robinson. On the way there he met with other tribes under the yoke of Montezuma’s rule, and these … Aztecable. Geronimo de Aguilar is presented to Cortes after 11 years of being kept captive by the locals. They found that the city's society had crumpled. Cortés sailed to South America from Cuba under the Spanish flag, but against the protests of the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez, who wanted to put someone else in charge of the expedition. "It would seem his desire to maintain his reputation and standing among the Spanish community was stronger than his need to be a husband and father to Malinche and Martin.". "It is also said that she informed Cortés of an Aztec plot to destroy his army," Cosme said. After initial hostilities, the native Americans presented gifts to Cortés, one of which was a slave girl who spoke both Maya and the native language of the Aztecs. During the late Post-classic period (c.1200–1521), these mirrors, symbolizing rulership and power, were used in rituals to spiritually access the Aztec underworld and communicate with the realm of the dead. Nutmeg, cloves and pomander from the Indonesian "Spice Islands" and pepper and cinnamon from India were in high demand, said Cosme. He became fascinated with tales of Christopher Columbus' New World explorations. He spoke Spanish to Aguilar, Aguilar relayed the message to Malinal in Maya and she relayed the message to the intended in Nahuatl. There, Cortés served as a clerk to the treasurer and later as mayor of Santiago. Between Aguilar and Malinche, a female slave who could speak Maya and Nahuatl, Cortés was able to communicate during his conquest. Aguilar was Spanish, a Franciscan friar, who had been shipwrecked on the coast of Yucatan back in 1511, Because Aguilar spoke both Spanish and fluent Mayan, he was able to interpret for Cortes. If you are at an office or shared network, you can ask the network administrator to run a scan across the network looking for misconfigured or infected devices. For example, in a short period of time, Cortés was able to get several other Mesoamerican societies on his side, including former members of the Aztec Triple Alliance such as Texcoco. He stayed for two years, and when he returned to Mexico he found himself removed from power. Cortes and Francisco Pizarro were able to join forces and conquer the Aztecs. They've had languages that have existed in central Mexico for around 1400 years. In 1518 Velázquez put him in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. The Spanish army had help in sacking the city. "For individual explorers, gaining public fame could potentially make them rich," said Cosme. There, he encountered Geronimo de Aguilar, a Spani… Early Aztec codices depict the story of La Malinche. Both scenarios would unfortunately become a common theme among many explorers' interactions with natives. The Aztecs no longer trusted Montezuma, they were short on food, and the smallpox epidemic was under way. Cortés had heard of the Aztecs and knew that they, and their leader Montezuma II, were a primary force in Mexico. Cortés traveled to Spain to plead with the king, but he was never again appointed to governorship. The Aztecs were the most urbanized and developed empire in the Americas. While Cortés held Tenochtitlán through Montezuma, a Spanish force from Cuba landed on the coast of Mexico. Cortes returned a few months later with a much larger army. More specifically, he arrived at the island of Hispaniola which is the modern-day Dominican Republic and Haiti. On the southeastern coast he founded Veracruz, where he dismissed the authority of Velasquez and declared himself under orders from King Charles I of Spain. Tenochtitlan – the island city. Cortés's acts of tyranny and slaughter place him alongside both of those historical figures, however the one main difference is that Spain was able to hold on to their captured territories for longer than Cortés's lifespan. He was born in 1485 and died in 1547. Explanation: • NY 10036. "Cortés' victory secured new and profitable land and opportunities for the Spanish monarch. One of Cortés' men contracted smallpox from a member of the force from Cuba. After sailing westward, the expedition stopped in Potonchán, near the mouth of the Grijalva River. In 1519, inspired by rumors of gold and the existence of large, sophisticated cities in the Mexican interior, Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) was appointed to head an expedition of eleven ships and five hundred men to Mexico. "Although he was kindly received by the Aztec emperor Montezuma, Cortés' intentions were less benevolent." Montezuma’s native language, Nahuatl, was a reverential mode of speech. Jessie Szalay - Live Science Contributor When the Aztecs would speak, the process would be reversed. With the help of the people of Tlaxcala, Cortés' army regrouped and re-entered Tenochtitlán. Cortés was eager to be part of the dynamic movement. Cortez tricks the Aztecs In 1519, Hernan Cortez, with only 500 soldiers, was able to conquer the Aztec Empire in Mexico. Cortés went to Honduras to quell a rebellion against him. Mexico City was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. Please refresh the page and try again. At age 14, Cortés was sent to study law at the University of Salamanca, but he was restless and unhappy. Frustrated and embittered, Cortés decided to return to Mexico. Cortez tricks the Aztecs In 1519, Hernan Cortez, with only 500 soldiers, was able to conquer the Aztec Empire in Mexico. "He enslaved much of the native population, and many of the indigenous people were wiped out from European diseases such as smallpox. A 1909 painting depicts the Spanish conquistadors entering Tenochtitlán to the sounds of martial music. As a result of his success, King Charles I of Spain appointed Cortés as governor of New Spain. The Aztecs had never seen a horse before, so the Aztecs thought that Cortes and his men were gods. This was an ethnic group that was located in Central Mexico. Columbus had landed at San Salvador and explored the West Indies in 1492, when Cortés was a young boy. By translating from Spanish to Mayan to Nahuatl and back again, they could communicate with the Aztecs. They had been sent by Velasquez to unseat Cortés. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Montezuma II was the ruler of the Aztec … In 1519, Cortés' ships reached the Mexican coast at Yucatan. In 1519, as conquistador Hernan Cortes was making his way inland from the coast on his audacious conquest of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire, he had to pass through the lands of the fiercely independent Tlaxcalans, who were the mortal enemies of the Mexica. The luxurious presents not only piqued the curiosity of Cortés but stirred a lust inside him. At age 14, Cortés was sent to study law at the University of Salamanca, but he was restless and unhappy. They provided the Europeans with food, supplies and 20 women, including an interpreter called Malintzin (also known as La Malinche or Doña Marina). He also helped colonize Cuba and became a governor of New Spain. "His view on the indigenous people was similar to the majority of Europeans of that day — they were inferior culturally, technologically, and religiously," said Cosme. By Lacking food and ravaged by smallpox disease earlier introduced by one of the Spaniards, the Aztecs, now led by Cuauhtemoc, finally collapsed after 93 days of resistance on the fateful day of 13th of August, 1521 CE. ). Book illustration by J.H. The Spanish fired shots, which stunned the natives and further intimidated them. One answer to this question lies in the difference between the way Cortés and Montezuma communicated, based on their cultural tradition. "The Aztecs were not always popular rulers among their subjected cities. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Her Nahuatl name was Malinal. Learning of the powerful Aztec empire and its capital city of Tenochtitlán, Cortés traveled over one hundred miles inland to find the city and claim the Empire for Spain. At first, the Tlaxcalans fought the conquistadors viciously, but after repeated defeats, they decided to make peace with the Spanish and … "He opened the door for further exploration and conquest of Central America to the south, and eventually led to the acquisition of California toward the north.". Montezuma’s capture and murder at the hand of Cortés, followed by the death of nearly 20 million Aztecs. 17. Though Cortés enslaved much of the native population, other indigenous groups were fundamental to his success, according to Cosme. He was the only son of noble, though not wealthy, parents. They nominally owed allegiance to the Aztecs, but in reality they hated them. As a result, when Cortés attacked Tenochtitlan in the spring and summer of 1521, they were aided by thousands of Tlaxcala and Texcoco warriors. It is uncertain how Montezuma died. The Aztecs were fascinated by the Spaniards' light skin and the sight of men on horseback, which they described as beasts with two heads and six legs. © Cortés defeated the Spanish force, but when he returned to Tenochtitlán he was met with a shock. The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by an alliance of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan (the capital of the Mexica) and several other smaller cities. You may need to download version 2.0 now from the Chrome Web Store. He became fascinated with tales of Christopher Columbus' New World explorations. Cortés and his men fled the city. Cortes was able to conquer the Aztec people for several different reasons. Hernan Cortes was a Spanish Conquistador who conquered the Aztec Empire. ", Cortés was, nevertheless, important in his reshaping of the world. Why do archeaologists today find evidence of the ancient Aztec capital right in the center of Mexico City? His better-equipped army was able to quickly defeat the Aztec and capture the capital Tenochtitlan. Answer: He was able to communicate with the Aztecs because he had an interpreter with him named Geronimo de Aguilar. How did Cortes communicate with the natives While the Spaniards still had superior weaponry — cannons, guns, swords — the additional knowledge on Aztec fighting styles and defenses given by Xicotenga, plus the additional men, gave Cortés a helpful edge.". That was how he communicated his nobility and power. When Montezuma spoke, he chose to portray false humility. One might question the reliability of the translation, but this is the system they used. He fathered several children. In 1519, as conquistador Hernan Cortes was making his way inland from the coast on his audacious conquest of the Mexica (Aztec) Empire, he had to pass through the lands of the fiercely independent Tlaxcalans, who were the mortal enemies of the Mexica. This Afro-Eurasian economy created an interwoven connection between India, China, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.". He also burned his ships to make retreat impossible. How did the Aztec's Communicate? The king did allow him to return to Mexico, albeit with much less authority. Cortes and Montezuma. Along the way they gathered intelligence from these groups and were thus better prepared to face Montezuma and the weight of his empire. The Aztecs had a very harsh tribute system that was not popular among the other peoples of Mexico. This region was home to the Aztec civilization , an empire of an estimated 16 million people at this time. [Hernán Cortés] said to [the Aztec ruler] Montezuma through our interpreter, half laughing: 'Señor Montezuma, I do not understand how such a great Prince and wise man as you are has not come to the conclusion, in your mind, that these idols of yours are not gods, but evil things that are called devils' . La Malinche helped Cortés manipulate Montezuma and rule Tenochtitlán through him. This brought a huge strategic advantage to to … They formed an allegiance, and Cortés was given several thousand warriors to add to his ranks. The Aztecs were in the midst of a full rebellion. Cortés exploited this hatred. Columbus had set sail hoping to … He decided to seek fortune and adventure in Hispaniola (modern-day Dominican Republic and Haiti). [47] : 86–87 How effectively is still a matter of speculation, since Marina did not speak the dialect of the Aztecs, nor was she familiar with the protocols of the Aztec nobility, who were renowned for their flowery, flattering talk. Aztec mirrors were originally held in wooden frames and were decorated with perishable ornaments, such as feathers. But why? . But to Cortés, Montezuma’s … "He arrived in the great Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in 1519," said Cosme. After a few months in Yucatan, Cortés headed west. But King Charles V forgave Cortés after he conquered the Aztecs in 1521 and returned home with their wealth. 8 August 1519: Beginning of the march to Tenochtitlan. Read on.) Ignoring his orders, Cortés set sail with 11 ships and more than 500 men. This began a revolt. We do know that the empire he encountered was part of a complex system of culture, religion, warfare, trade, and deep memory. Despite his success, Cortés was hungry for more power and greater thrills. These two empires came face to face in 1428 CE with the Tepanec War. Thinking that Cortés could be Quetzalcoatl, Montezuma greeted the party with great honor. Communication. They had to go through a long and complicated chain of translation to communicate with each other. Columbus had set sail hoping to find a route to Asia or India. "Like many explorers we know about today, Hernán (also known as Hernando) Cortés's role in the Age of Exploration was influential but controversial," said Erika Cosme, Administrative Coordinator of Education and Digital Services at The Mariner’s Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. Cortés’s route from Vera Cruz to Tenochtitlan. When Cortés heard of this, he took a garrison of Spanish and Tlaxcalan soldiers and marched on the Spanish. La Malinche became an important figure in Cortés' life and legacy. . the Toltec woman however, had allegiance to her husband and the Spanish, so the the Spaniards were told everything that was said in Aztec language, while the Aztecs were not afforded the same advantage. First, he found Gerónimo de Aguilar, a Spanish priest who had been shipwrecked on the mainland several years before and could speak the Maya language. Montezuma’s capture and murder at the hand of Cortés, followed by the death of nearly 20 million Aztecs. "While in Cozumel, he was astounded to learn of the gruesome rituals, including human sacrifice, of the natives to their many gods … He and his men removed and destroyed the pagan idols, and replaced them with crosses and figures of the Virgin Mary.". After the emissaries haughtily refused him many times, he began to march onto the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan – refusing to take no for an answer. In August 1521, the Spanish and their Native American allies defeated the Aztecs and conquered the city. Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, Spain. "He was a smart, ambitious man who wanted to appropriate new land for the Spanish crown, convert native inhabitants to Catholicism, and plunder the lands for gold and riches.". (The shipwrecked priest has a big part in the story, too. But they were able to free a shipwrecked Spanish priest who’d been held captive by the Maya. He convinced Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, to let him lead an expedition to Mexico. He was able to convince the Indian allies and the Tlaxcalan warriors to stay with his men and finally at the end of December 1520, Cortés's army went on to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. With these ships, Cortés was able to block the three main causeways which linked the city to the edge of Lake Texcoco. Unbeknownst to Cortés, his arrival coincided with an important Aztec prophecy. Others, including indigenous scholars, assert that the Spanish killed him. He helped oversee the building of Mexico City, which is still Mexico's capital today," said Cosme. Cortés met two people, a Friar who spoke Spanish and Mayan and a woman who spoke Mayan and Nahuatl. Cloudflare Ray ID: 60181a2ba95bedcf Please enable Cookies and reload the page. He was one of the first children of mixed indigenous and Spanish heritage. Cortés explored the northern part of Mexico and discovered Baja California for Spain in the latter 1530s. Cortés' Spanish wife died and he remarried twice, though never to La Malinche, said Cosme. Your IP: 5.135.32.36 She actually had a pretty high status for both a woman and a native during this time and place among the Spaniards. Montezuma sent out envoys to meet the conquistador as he neared. Following victor… (Image: © Public domain. Cortés men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor. Columbus had landed at San Salvador and explored the West Indies in 1492, when Cortés was a young boy. Question: How did Cortes trick the Aztecs? He quickly overpowered them, and the natives surrendered. The result? After her arrival, historians are unsure if Cortés continued to acknowledge La Malinche or Martin, said Cosme. Once the city had fallen, Cortés began building Mexico City on the ruins. • The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, whom they credited with the creation of humans among other notable feats, was set to return to Earth. It quickly became a pre-eminent city in the Spanish colonies and many Europeans came to live there. With this pair of translators, Cortés could now communicate to the Aztecs. Cortés returned and obliged Montezuma to face the crowd, but the Aztec leader was struck by a stone and died. The two leaders, Cortés and Montezuma, knew absolutely nothing about each other’s language, civilization, or cultural nuances. Cortés could never have pulled off the defeat of the Aztec Empire without good luck. Additionally, with the Spanish came several diseases the Aztec peoples had never encountered. If you are on a personal connection, like at home, you can run an anti-virus scan on your device to make sure it is not infected with malware. We also can't really trust the word of Cortés, who had a stake in making Aztec society look as rotten as possible in order to pretty up his own brutal conquest. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. "She eventually learned Spanish, and became Cortés' personal interpreter, guide and mistress. That soldier died during the Aztec rebellion, and when his body was looted, an Aztec caught the disease, which spread like wildfire because the Aztec people had no immunity to it. Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador, or conqueror, best remembered for conquering the Aztec empire in 1521 and claiming Mexico for Spain. Cortés also had amazing luck in terms of the Aztec vassal states. Among them were the people of Tlaxcala, who helped him regroup and take Tenochtitlán. Accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses and a small number of cannons, he landed in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mayan territory. At the last minute, due to the old gripe between Velázquez and Cortés, he changed his mind and revoked his charter. 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