for military aspects of the
Conquest of the Aztec Empire

The Spanish Conquest of New Spain

After two failed attempts (1517, 1518) HERNAN CORTEZ, venturing out from Havana (Cuba) landed in VERACRUZ in 1519, and, heading an expedition corps of 600 men, allied himself with the people of Tlaxcala, marched on the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, took the Aztec Emperor MOCTEZUMA II. (also Montezuma) hostage and took control of Tenochtitlan itself. By 1521, after Moctezuma's death and a futile Aztec rising, the Aztec Empire was conquered, and it's riches were transferred into Spanish hands.
The Aztec Empire covered only parts of the densely populated Mexican highlands. Further Spanish conquest was a slow process. The surprise effect, based on horses, artillery, Toledan steel, and the Aztec legend that a god would come back from across the seas did not work here. It took further 8 decades to pacify what is Mexico today. Although conquistadores ventured out further north into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado and established a Spanish claim over the area, Spanish control hardly went beyond the limits of the few cities established there, such as SANTA FE (New Mexico, founded 1605). California was only settled by Franciscan monks in the 18th century. Nonetheless, the Viceroyalty of New Spain claimed most of the North American continent and regarded the appearance of Russians in Alaska around 1800 a transgression into their territory.

Articles from Catholic Encyclopedia : Mexico, Mexico, Archdiocese of
DOCUMENTS Historical Documents from Mexico, from Ancient Mexico, 4 documents on the conquest period
REFERENCE A Concise History of Mexico, by Brian Hamnett, 1999, 336 pp., Cambridge Concise Histories

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 5th 2004

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