The rise of the Aztec Empire

Essay by brad_gHigh School, 11th gradeA-, August 2007

download word file, 5 pages 4.8

The Aztecs were a nomadic, native American tribe that resided in the Valley of Mexico from the 1200s to the mid-1500s. After exploring most of the Valley of Mexico, they settled down and started farming in 1345. The Aztecs built a huge empire and were ahead of their time in some aspects. However, in 1519, a Spanish Conquistador named Hernando Cortes led a force of 300 men to Yucatan. This signified the beginning of the end of the Aztec empire, due to the conquistadors' lust for gold and the destructive role that religion played.

On February 18, 1519, Cortes set sail from Santiago, Cuba, with 300 men, two ships, a brigante and plenty of supplies. He had had been ordered to explore the New World by Velasquez, the Spanish governor, who feared losing control of the expedition at the scale of Cortes' preparations. He sent a messenger to relieve Cortes of his command, however, Cortes' brother-in-law killed him and alerted Cortes of Velasquez's intentions.

Cortes set sail before Velasquez could arrive and apprehend him, and the journey to the New World began.

Language became an important issue in Cortes' journey and at the island of Cozumel, Cortes first saw the Mayan pyramids and met Geronimo de Aguilar, who had been shipwrecked and taken as a captive to Yacutan. Because of Geronimo's survival, Cortes now had a Mayan translator. Cortes continued sailing and landed at Potonchan, where he met the natives. These natives gave Cortes gold and food and told him "We wish neither war nor trade. We have no more gold - if you do not leave, you will be killed." (taken from:, speaker unknown) This resulted in a battle, which Cortes won, and the Indians presented the Spanish with more gifts. One of these gifts was a woman...