Cortez Conquers the Aztec

Cortez conquered the Aztec Empire on behalf of Spain. A small group of Spanish soldiers conquered an Empire with 10,000's of soldiers

The Aztec Empire was a Native American state that ruled much of what is now Mexico from 1428 to 1521. When it was captured, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, was one of the largest and most advanced cities in the world. Hernán Cortés led a small group of well-armed Spanish soldiers that defeated an empire with tens of thousands of warriors.

Hernán Cortés had been living in Cuba, where he had actively participated in its conquest. Cortés and other Spaniards heard rumors about the existence of gold and a great civilization on the mainland. He secured a charter from the Spanish governor to explore and exploit whatever land he found. At the last minute, the governor revoked his charter, but Cortés sailed anyway. He took a small fleet of 11 ships and 600 Spanish soldiers to search for the gold.

In March of 1519, Cortés landed on the Yucatán Peninsula, now part of Mexico. There, he met a Native American princess named Malintzin. Malintzin was fluent in several Native American languages and soon became Cortés' translator. She informed him about the Aztecs, and Cortés marched inland in April toward the Aztec capital.

Cortés entered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan without opposition. The Aztec king, Montezuma, was curious to learn more about the Spaniards. Cortés and his men soon took Montezuma hostage and began looting the empire's gold. While Cortés was fighting another Spanish force on the coast, his men massacred Aztec priests, sparking a revolt. The Spanish were forced to flee the city, losing many of their men and much of their gold. Cortés returned a few months later with a much larger army. His better-equipped forces quickly defeated the Aztecs and captured the capital, Tenochtitlan. Cortés had a silent ally: a deadly smallpox epidemic that devastated much of the population. The proud Aztec Empire came to an end.

Entering the Capital
End of the Aztec

Biography of Hernan Cortes
Internet Links on Cortes