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Hernan Cortés conquers Mexico

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Title:
Hernan Cortés conquers Mexico
Series Title:
This week in history
Creator:
Castro, Richard T.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
Richard T. Castron
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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This Week In History
Hernan Cortes Conquers Mexico by
Richard Castro
On November 8, 1519, Hernan Cortes made his initial entry into the Aztec capital at the head of the Spanish military force and was warmly received by Moctezuma II, leader of the Aztec nation.
Cortes was light in complexion, had redish hair, was tall and handsome.
Moctezuma, upon seeing him, recalled the Aztec prophecy that one day their
god, Quetzalcoatl, whose description fitted that of Cortes, would return from over the eastern waters. The emperor prayed to his gods and spoke to the
priests and sorcerers. But no one could tell him what to do.
Cortes had formed a partnership with the governor of Cuba to explore
the coast of Mexico. He disobeyed orders, and was being followed by the
governor's troops with orders to kill him.
The new world was a frontier for Spain and men like Cortes were hard to govern. Although he had a history of getting into trouble since university days in Spain, Cortes was charming, intelligent, and above all, fearless.
His men both loved and respected him.
To make sure no one would think of turning back, Cortes dismantled his ships, burning parts of them. He left his troops with no other option but to move forward. Very respectful of Spanish legality in some ways, Cortes
called an open meeting of his men to form a self-governing council. By this
ancient Spanish tradition, he was then elected leader, claiming that only the king himself, could give him orders.
Marching north to Tenoctitlan (current day Mexico City), Cortes gained
support of Indians who opposed the Aztecs. In the Yucatan peninsula, Cortes
obtained a slave named Maliche, the daughter of an Aztec noble who had fallen


2
enemy hands.
Cortes realized her value and treated her well. In return, she loved him and helped him, telling him about Aztec customs and government. Malinche, or Dona Marina, as the Spaniards called her, spoke both Nahuatl and Maya. One of the Spaniards, Geronimo Aguilar, spoke Maya as well as Spanish. As Cortes moved closer to the valley of Mexico, he used Aguilar and Malinche to speak with the Indians along the way. The charm and intelligence of Cortes won more and more friends and allies.
Moctezuma was confused. At first he tried to get the Spaniards to go away. Then he tried to kill them in a surprise attack at Cholua, a holy city. Forewarned by Malinche, Cortes defended himself valiantly, but he also sent Moctezuma friendly messages. Even more confused, and now afraid, the emperor finally invited the Spaniards to enter his capital in peace.
This was a fatalistic moment where the two worlds met over 100 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. As he viewed the beautiful capital before them, one Spaniard wrote, "Too many of us it seemed doubtful whether we were asleep or awake. Never did man see, hear, or dream of anything equal to the spectacle which appeared to our eyes this day."
The handful of Spaniards were really prisoners and Cortes knew it. To gain the advantage, he kidnapped the emperor and held him hostage. Thousands of Aztecs held back in fear of their emperor's life. Cortes persuaded Moctezuma to help him control the city, but the emperor was fatally stoned by his own people, who thought he had betrayed them. An Aztec attack forced the Spaniards to flee the city. They would have been destroyed without the help of Indian allies like the Tlaxcalans.


3
After six months in retreat, Cortes gained new strength. He and his Indian friends then attacked Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs, led by Cuauhtemoc, nephew of Moctezuma, were valiant in their defense of the city. But after a bloody battle that lasted four months, the capital fell in August 1520. Cortes ordered the death of Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor.
Cortes then commanded that a beautiful city be built on the ruins of the destroyed city. He called the city, Mexico. The stones of the Aztec temples were used to build Christian churches. Many Indians accepted the religion of the conquistadores, because in their minds, the Aztec gods had fallen with the empire. Others simply added certain Christian beliefs and rituals to their Aztec ones. Before long, Indian women gave birth to children from Spanish fathers. Their offspring were called mestizos. A new society had begun.
# # # #
11/7/88




Full Text

PAGE 1

This Week In History Hernan Cortes Conquers Mexico by Richard Castro On November 8, 1519, Hernan Cortes made his initial entry into the Aztec capital at the head of the Spanish military force and was warmly received by Moctezuma II, leader of the Aztec nation. Cortes was light in complexion, had redish hair, was tall and handsome. Moctezuma, upon seeing him, recalled the Aztec prophecy that one day their god, Quetzalcoatl, whose description fitted that of Cortes, would return from over the eastern waters. The emperor prayed to his gods and spoke to the priests and sorcerers. But no one could tell him what to do. Cortes had formed a partnership with the governor of Cuba to explore the coast of Mexico. He disobeyed orders, and was being followed by the governor's troops with orders to kill him. The new world was a frontier for Spain and men like Cortes were hard to govern. Although he had a history of getting into trouble since university days in Spain, Cortes was charming, intelligent, and above all, fearless. His men both loved and respected him. To make sure no one would think of turning back, Cortes dismantled his ships, burning parts of them. He left his troops with no other option but to move forward. Very respectful of Spanish legality in some ways, Cortes called an open meeting of his men to form a self-governing council. By this ancient Spanish tradition, he was then elected leader, claiming that only the king himself, could give him orders. Marching north to Tenoctitlan (current day Mexico City), Cortes gained support of Indians who opposed the Aztecs. In the Yucatan peninsula, Cortes obtained a slave named Maliche, the daughter of an Aztec noble who had fallen

PAGE 2

2 enemy hands. Cortes realized her value and treated her well. In return, she loved him and helped him, telling him about Aztec customs and government. Malinche, or Dona Marina, as the Spaniards called her, spoke both Nahuatl and Maya. One of the Spaniards, Geronimo Aguilar, spoke Maya as well as Spanish. As Cortes moved closer to the valley of Mexico, he used Aguilar and Malinche to speak with the Indians along the way. The charm and intelligence of Cortes won more and more friends and allies. Moctezuma was confused. At first he tried to get the Spaniards to go away. Then he tried to kill them in a surprise attack at Cholua, a holy city. Forewarned by Malinche, Cortes defended himself valiantly, but he also sent Moctezuma friendly messages. Even more confused, and now afraid, the emperor finally invited the Spaniards to enter his capital in peace. This was a fatalistic moment where the two worlds met over 100 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. As he viewed the beautiful capital before them, one Spaniard wrote, "Too many of us it seemed doubtful whether we were asleep or awake. Never did man see, hear, or dream of anything equal to the spectacle which appeared to our eyes this day.'' The handful of Spaniards were really prisoners and Cortes knew it. To gain the advantage, he kidnapped the emperor and held him hostage. Thousands of Aztecs held back in fear of their emperor's life. Cortes persuaded Moctezuma to help him control the city, but the emperor was fatally stoned by his own people, who thought he had betrayed them. An Aztec attack forced the Spaniards to flee the city. They would have been destroyed without the help of Indian allies like the Tlaxcalans.

PAGE 3

3 After six months in retreat, Cortes gained new strength. He and his Indian friends then attacked Tenochtitl an. The Aztecs, 1 ed by Cuauhtemoc, nephew of Moctezuma, were valiant in their defense of the city. But after a bloody battle that lasted four months, the capital fell in August 1520. Cortes ordered the death of Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor. Cortes then commanded that a beautiful city be bui 1 t on the ruins of the destroyed city. He called the city, Mexico. The stones of the Aztec temples were used to build Christian churches. Many Indians accepted the religion of the conquistadores, because in their minds, the Aztec gods had fallen with the empire. Others simply added certain Christian beliefs and rituals to their Aztec ones. Before long, Indian women gave birth to children from Spanish fathers. Their offspring were called mestizos. A new society had begun. # # # # 11/7/88