Cortez Conquers the Aztec
The Aztec Empire was a Native American state that ruled much of current day Mexico, from 1428 to 1521. When it was captured, the Aztec captial, Tenochitian, was one of the largest and most advanced in the world. Henan Cortes led the small group of well-armed Spanish soldiers that defeated an Empire with tens of thousand of soldiers.
In March of 1519, Cortes landed on the Yucatan Peninsula, now part of Mexico. There, Cortes met a Native American princess named Malintzin. Malintzin knew a number of Native American languages and soon became Cortes' translator. She told him about the Aztecs. Cortes marched inland in April towards the Aztec capital.
Hernan Cortes had been living in Cuba, which he had taken an active part in conquering. Cortes and other Spaniards heard rumors of the existence of gold and a great civilization on the mainland. Cortes secured a charter from the Spanish governor to explore and exploit whatever land was there. At the last minute, the governor revoked his charter. Cortes sailed anyway. He took a small fleet of 11 ships and 600 Spanish soldiers to search for the gold.
Cortes entered the Aztec capital of Tenochitian without opposition. The Aztec King, Montezuma, wanted to learn more about the Spaniards. Cortes and his men soon took the King hostage, and started looting the gold of the Empire. While Cortes fought a Spanish force on the coast, his men massacred Aztec priests. This began a revolt. The Spanish were forced to flee the city, losing many of their men and much of their gold. Cortes returned a few months later with a much larger army. His better-equipped army was able to quickly defeat the Aztec and capture the capital Tenochtitlan. Cortes had a silent ally, a deadly small pox epidemic that devastated much of the population. The proud Aztec Empire came to an end.
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