Conquest of Mexico Essay

Words: 6058
Pages: 25

Conquest of Mexico

In 1519 Hernán Cortés led a couple hundred other Spaniards inland to the impressive Empire of the Mexica ruled by the Great Montezuma. Many historians today tell how quickly and almost effortlessly these Spaniards conquered the Empire. They paint an image of ignorant, helpless Indians practically giving up their land out of fear of this group because certainly the Spaniards must be gods since they have powerful weapons and strange animals. We know neither Cortés nor any of his men were gods, of course, but what was it that allowed Cortés to prevail over the inhabitants of the land?

The First Expeditions

To begin, in 1517 Francisco Hernández de Córdova, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, and some other gentlemen
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Montezuma was aware of his ancestors' prophecy that one day "men with beards would come from the direction of the sunrise and would rule over them" (Díaz pg. 24 2). He was also aware of Grijalva's journey along the coast, so therefore sent a governor, three chiefs, and many of their household to greet and barter with these foreigners, maybe in hopes of remaining peaceful. Grijalva's expedition remained for six days and traded beads for "more than 16 thousand dollars worth of jewelry of low grade gold, worked into various forms." (Díaz pg. 25 2)
Journeying little more and encountering fewer opportunities for trading beads for gold, Grijalva returned to Cuba. Governor Velásquez was very pleased with Grijalva's mission. In addition to the gold from the first voyage, the governor received a total of 20 thousand dollars. (Díaz)

The Aztecs

In the second expedition, the explorers first hear of "Méjico," "Montezuma," and "gold." But was Governor Diego Velásquez's desire for gold the only instigation for trekking inland? What was "Méjico"? Who was "Montezuma"? What could Spain gain by going there? To answer some of these questions, we need to learn a little of the history of the Aztecs, known as the Mexica. (Díaz)
The Aztecs arrived in northwestern Mexico around the middle of the second century. The history