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Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar offering Hernán Cortés command of the exploration to Mexico; in the Museum that America, Madrid.

Over the next few months, Cortés started a base at La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (now Veracruz, Mexico), and his conquistadores moved west along the shore toward Aztec lands. Although wary the Cortés, Montezuma sent out emissaries through lavish presents to the Spanish in a mindful game the diplomacy. In the meantime, Cortés forged partnerships with numerous disgruntled Aztec topic tribes, chief among them the Totonac and also the Tlaxcalans. The Tlaxcalans in details were crucial to Cortés’s future successes, together they to be old rivals that the Aztecs and also boasted a sizable military that supplemented the modest pressure of conquistadores. With these warrior in tow, Cortés marched on the necessary Aztec city of Cholula in October 1519. Over there Cortés and his military slaughtered thousands of unarmed citizens after learning of their plan to ambush the Spanish. The left for Tenochtitlán a month later on with the will of conquering the city and also deposing Montezuma.


Montezuma II
Montezuma II being held captive by Hernán Cortés"s men.

Cortés’s success was short-lived. He received word the a Spanish party pull close La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz through orders come arrest him for going beyond his terms of expedition. The left Tenochtitlán in the hand of his trusted officer Pedro de Alvarado and set out to subdue the arrest party. He beat them in a surprised attack and also successfully persuaded the soldiers to sign up with his search to topple the Aztec empire. In the meantime, Alvarado had butchered numerous hundred Aztec nobles and warriors during a religious festival. This sparked a rebellion throughout the city, and also many members that Cortés’s garrison were killed in retaliation. Cortés returned to the devastation in ~ Tenochtitlán in June 1520 and immediately demanded the Montezuma quell the rebellion, but the emperor had actually lost respect amongst the people. He was either killed during the fighting or assassinated.

Montezuma’s brother, Cuitláhuac, was called the brand-new tlatoani, and also he journey the conquistadores and also their allies the end of Tenochtitlán in a bloody assault known as La Noche Triste. Cortés retreated eastern to Tlaxcala, where his military slowly regained its strength over the course of more than five months.

Cortés and his males retreating from Tenochtitlán
Hernán Cortés and also his males retreating indigenous Tenochtitlán, undated illustration.

Smallpox had actually been presented to the Aztecs with the Spanish, and also during those months the condition killed fifty percent of Tenochtitlán’s inhabitants, amongst them the emperor Cuitláhuac. The Aztecs do Cuauhtémoc the following tlatoani. In the meantime, Cortés constructed 13 little ships come launch against the city during his next attack. The left Tlaxcala in December.

Smallpox was presented to Mexico by the Spanish, and the condition spread v the Aztec funding of Tenochtitlán in late 1520.

Siege the Tenochtitlán

Tenochtitlán was located on an synthetic island in the center of Lake Texcoco. It was connected to the mainland through three large causeways. In may 1521 Cortés and his coalition military reached the suburbs of the Aztec capital and also laid siege to the city. His force numbered much more than 800 conquistadores and also tens that thousands of indigenous warriors. He had portaged his ships native Tlaxcala in segments, and these verified useful due to the fact that they permitted him to surround the city indigenous the water and also through the causeways. He invited the ships v cannon and placed several assaults on Tenochtitlán if cutting off the Aztecs’ food and water supply.

Detail from mexican artist Diego Rivera"s mural Great City of Tenochtitlán portraying market day in the Aztec capital, through the city"s an excellent temple complicated in the background.

Over the course of 93 days, the Spanish and also their allies placed assault after attack on the Aztec defenders, gradually wearing them down. Cortés acquired the support of neighbouring Aztec subjects who observed the siege together an chance to be rid the Aztec regime for good. Once they at last broke through the city’s defenses, the Spanish and their aboriginal allies to be ruthless. They subdued the Aztecs street by street, slaughtering indiscriminately and also looting what lock could. Houses were burned and also temples destroyed. After the bag of Tenochtitlán, Cortés claimed the city his on august 13, 1521. Cuauhtémoc tried to escape with few of his loyal advisors and nobles, but they to be discovered and captured, and Cuauhtémoc was later on hanged.

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Aftermath and the loss of the Aztec empire

Cortés’s win at Tenochtitlán collection in activity the rapid collapse of the Aztec empire. End the following three years, the conquistadores carried the whole of Mesoamerica under Spanish rule and also established the swarm of brand-new Spain. Smallpox ongoing to ravage the indigenous populace and cripple their volume to stand up to the Spanish. Additional disadvantaging them to be a serious void in technological advancement. While the Spanish had accessibility to gunpowder and also steel, the native tribes armoured themselves with thick cloth and animal hides and also fought through macuahuitl (bladed clubs), bows, and also spears. These determinants working against them, the tribes soon discovered themselves the topics of a world arguably together merciless as the Aztecs had been before them.