Saturday, March 25, 2017

Chapter Review: How Did Cortez Conquer the Aztecs?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
This chapter gives a pretty concise of the two-year struggle in which the Aztecs were defeated.  Hernan Cortez took his men on a non-sanctioned mission to Mexico to take the Aztec treasure.  On the way to the Aztec capitol city, Tenochtitlan, a city built in the middle of a lake, the gather allies from amongst those native indigenous people who were controlled by the Aztec, but historically were enemies.  Sometimes this involved small skirmishes, but by the time the Spanish force of 600 men arrived, they had numerous allies supporting them.  Add to this the confusion Montezuma had over the appearance of White forces.  The were confused because they had a legend about a White god returning to take his place as ruler.  This was enough to give Cortez a break, and the took Montezuma captive.  Controlling the ruler, the Spanish controlled the Aztecs, until the Aztecs became disillusioned with Montezuma.  They confronted him, and Montezuma attempted to calm him.  Instead the Aztecs started firing at him, and whether Montezuma was killed by the Aztecs, or the Spanish is not known, but he was of no further use to the Aztecs.  However without some kind of control, the Spanish were forced out of the city, suffering heavy casualties.  Many of the Spanish drowned with their pockets heavy with gold.  As they retreated they were met with another convoy of Spanish, sent by the Cuban governor to capture Cortez.  However Cortez and his men were able to kill the leader and instantly had many new recruits to continue their battle against the Aztecs.  They returned, and with their allies were able to take the city again, fighting house to house.  
This chapter does not mention the story about burning the boats presented by Andy Andrews.  In other study it appears this story is basically true.  However their are mixed ideas with regards to motive.  Cortez did spend considerable time with his men on the beach motivating them.  However some of the men were determine to return to Cuba as the new the mission was illegitimate.  It is not necessary that the boats were burned, but they were destroyed.  

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