Encounter in Tenochtitlan Background & Setting



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Encounter in Tenochtitlan

Background & Setting: Because history is usually written by the winners, there are only a few Aztec accounts of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Tenochtitlan in 1519. These stories were collected and written down some years later in Nahuatl, the Aztec Language. On the back you will find the “Broken Spears” account written by an unknown Aztec chronicler, which describes the first meeting of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma (spelled Motehcuhzoma by the Aztec writers) and the Spanish leader Hernan Cortes. Their translator was La Malinche, a young Indian woman who spoke the Mayan and Aztec languages and quickly learned Spanish.

The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) in 1519 marked the beginning of the end for the Aztec Empire. One reason was the emperor Moctezuma’s reverential attitude toward Cortes, even though other Aztec chiefs objected.

You with your group members will be preparing and performing a simulation (live performance) that takes place in Tenochtitlan in 1519. Students begin a dramatic re-creation of the scene from the “Broken Spears” account. Each student will be divided into 2-3 groups and will select a role of a Spaniard or Aztec then create their own second act script [approved by Mr. Streit] for this drama. Your performance will be no longer than 10 minutes.

Characters & Roles: You must decide these roles in your group.


  • The emperor Moctezuma [Motehcuhzoma] – 1 student

  • Leader of Spanish conquistadors, Hernan Cortes – 1 student

  • La Malinche, the interpreter – 1 student

  • Aztec nobles - 2-4 students

  • Spanish soldiers/conquistadores – 2-4 students

  • People of Tenochtitlan – 2-4 students


Getting Started: This simulation (live performance) will be performed in front of other Hawthorne students (TBD). We will spend class time researching your roles and possible explanations of what might have happened. We will also spend 2-3 classes creating and practicing your performance. Remember, Mr. Streit must approve all scripts.
Issues and Objectives [Things to Consider]: Students should consider whether the Aztec nobles could have changed history by resisting the Spaniards or forcing Moctezuma to behave differently. Possible scenarios for the second act might include:

  • Nobles organize resistance and recover treasures.

  • People of the city refuse to bring supplies to the Spanish soldiers.

  • Moctezuma negotiates with Cortes.


Conclusion: This simulation (live performance) is open-ended but should encourage students to think about the tactics of the conquerors. To get started, turn over the page and start reading “Broken Spears”. You will be graded in two ways: Mr. Streit total group rubric and a Peer-to-Peer rubric.
Vocabulary: Before you begin reading, find the meaning of these words in a dictionary: vigilance, apparition, ingots.

Broken Spears

When Motecuhzoma had given necklaces to each [of the Spaniards] Cortes asked him: “Are you Motecuhzoma? Are you the king? Is it true that you are the king Motecuhzoma?”

And the king said: “Yes, I am Motecuhzoma.” Then he stood up to welcome Cortes; he came forward, bowed his head low and addressed him in these words: “Our lord, you are weary. The journey has tired you, but now you have arrived on the earth. You have come to your city, Mexico. You have come to sit on your throne, to sit under the canopy…

“[Your coming] was foretold by the kings who governed your city, and now it has taken place. You have come back to us; you have come down from the sky. Rest now, and take possession of your royal houses. Welcome to your land, my lords!”

When Motecuhzoma had finished, La Malinche translated his address into Spanish so that the Captain could understand it. Cortes replied in his strange and savage tongue, speaking first to La Malinche: “Tell Motecuhzoma that we are his friends. There is nothing to fear. We have wanted to see him for a long time, and how we have seen his face and heard his words. Tell him that we love him well and that our hearts are contented.”

Then he said to Motecuhzoma: “We have come to your house in Mexico as friends. There is nothing to fear.”

La Malinche translated this speech and the Spaniards grasped Motecuhzoma’s hands and patted his back to show their affection from him…

When the Spaniards entered the Royal House, they placed Motecuhzoma under guard and kept him under their vigilance… Other lords were permitted to depart.

When the Spaniards fired one of their cannons, and this caused great confusion in the city. The people scattered in every direction, they fled without rhyme or reason; they ran off as if they were being pursued. It was as if they had eaten the mushrooms that confuse the mind, or had seen dreadful apparition. They were all overcome by terror, as if their hearts had fainted. And when night fell, the panic spread through the city, and their fears would not let them sleep.

In the morning the Spaniards told Motecuhzoma what they needed in the way of supplies: tortillas, fired chickens, hens’ eggs, pure water, firewood, and charcoal. Also; large, clean cooking pots, water jars, pitchers, dishes and other pottery. Motecuhzoma ordered were angry with the king and no longer revered or respected him. But they furnished the Spaniards with all the provisions they needed—food, beverages and water, and fodder for the horses…

When the Spaniards were installed in the palace, they asked Motecuhzoma about the city’s resources and reserves and about the warrior’s ensigns and shields. They questioned him closely and then demanded gold.

Motecuhzoma guided them to it. They surrounded him and crowded close with their weapons. He walked in the center, while they formed a circle around him.

When they arrived at the treasure house called Teucalco, the riches of gold and feathers were brought out to them: ornaments made of quetzal feathers, richly worked shields, disks of gold, the necklaces of the idols, gold nose plugs, gold greaves [leg armor] and bracelets and crowns.

The Spaniards immediately stripped he feathers from the gold shields and ensigns. They gathered all the gold into a great mound and set fire to everything else, regardless of its virtue. Then they melted down the gold into ingots. As for the precious green stones, they took only the best of them…The Spaniards searched through the whole treasure house, questioning and quarreling, and seized every object they thought was beautiful…

Next they went to Motecuhzoma’s storehouse … where his personal treasures were kept. The Spaniards grinned like little beasts and patted each other with delight.

When they entered the hall of treasures, it was as if they had arrived in Paradise. They searched everywhere and coveted everything; they were slaves to their own greed. All of Motecuhzoma’s possessions were brought out: fine bracelets, necklaces with large stones, ankle rings with little gold bells, the royal crowns and all the royal finery—everything that belonged to the king and was reserved to him only. They seized these treasures as if they were their own, as if this plunder were merely a stroke of good luck. And when they had taken all the gold, they heaped up everything else in the middle of the patio.

La Malinche called the nobles together. She climbed up to the palace roof and cried: “Mexicanos, come forward! The Spaniards need your help! Bring them food and pure water. They are almost fainting from exhaustion! Why do you not come forward? Are you angry with them?”



The Mexicans were too frightened to approach. They were crushed by terror and would not risk coming forward. They shield away as if the Spaniards were wild beasts, as if the hour were midnight on the blackest night of the year. Yet they did not abandon the Spaniards to hunger and thirst. They brought them whatever they needed, but shook with fear as they did so. They delivered the supplies to the Spaniards with trembling hands, then turned and hurried away.

Individual Participation (Peer to Peer) Grading Rubric

Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.

Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.

Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.


Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.

Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.

Name:________________________________

CATEGORY

2 Points

1 Point

0 Point

Discussion

Participates in discussion without shouting, listens to others speak, pays attention to teacher/presenter.

Sometimes participates in discussion or shouts during discussion, sometimes listens and pays attention.

Does not participate in discussion, does not listen to others or pay attention.

Prepared

On time for class, has materials, folder, pen, planner, and is ready to work.

Occasionally on time for class and has most supplies needed for class.

Is late for class, not prepared for class, and is not ready to work.

Behavior

Treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Occasionally treats others with respect, uses appropriate language and voice level.

Always off task and is not respectful to others, uses improper language and voice level.



Group Presentation Rubric (Mr. Streit)

Research


Sophisticated

(7 points each)

Competent

(5 points each)

Not Yet Competent

(3 points each)

Quality of script (e.g. use of varied sources, accurate information)


Information is accurate; resources are legitimate; resources are varied when appropriate

Information is mostly accurate with only a few minor errors; one resource may be questionable; resources good

Information is unreliable and/or inaccurate; no additional resources

Content of Presentation


Sophisticated

(7 points each)

Competent

(5 points each)

Not Yet Competent

(3 points each)

Effective in telling all parts of the story (e.g. coherent, logical progression, well organized, include main points not details, “tell a story”)
Includes the following and more:

  • Capture of La Malinche

  • Meeting of Cortez and Montezuma

  • Nobles organize resistance and recover treasures.

  • People of the city refuse to bring supplies to the Spanish soldiers.

  • Montezuma negotiates with Cortes.

  • Tactics of the conquerors.

Tells all the parts in detail.
Includes the following and more:

  • Capture of La Malinche

  • Meeting of Cortez and Montezuma

  • Nobles organize resistance and recover treasures.

  • People of the city refuse to bring supplies to the Spanish soldiers.

  • Montezuma negotiates with Cortes.

  • Tactics of the conquerors

Tells the story for the most part, too basic and/or with only a few glaring problems
Select which are missing:


  • Capture of La Malinche

  • Meeting of Cortez and Montezuma

  • Nobles organize resistance and recover treasures.

  • People of the city refuse to bring supplies to the Spanish soldiers.

  • Montezuma negotiates with Cortes.

  • Tactics of the conquerors

Missing essential parts to the story
Select which are missing:


  • Capture of La Malinche

  • Meeting of Cortez and Montezuma

  • Nobles organize resistance and recover treasures.

  • People of the city refuse to bring supplies to the Spanish soldiers.

  • Montezuma negotiates with Cortes.

  • Tactics of the conquerors

Communication


Sophisticated

(7 points each)

Competent

(5 points each)

Not Yet Competent

(3 points each)

Clarity of storyline (e.g. explains ideas well, clear progression of the story, obvious transitions, demonstrates knowledge of key points)


Presentation is coherent, with clear progression of story, transitions, language use; performers demonstrate intimate knowledge of the subject

Presentation is coherent for the most part, but parts are not clear/confusing

Presentation lacks coherence

Style of presentation (e.g. speaks in sentences, clear enunciation, fluent delivery, well-paced, maintains eye contact, fits time requirement, clearly practiced)

Presentation is polished, presenters use sentences, enunciates well, is fluent in the delivery, maintains an effective pace and eye contact, doesn’t run over allotted time, loud, good pace – not too fast or slow.

Presentation is polished, for the most part, but one of the following is missing: good enunciation, pace, smooth delivery

Presentation is not polished

Self- and Peer Evaluation


Sophisticated

(7 points each)

Competent

(5 points each)

Not Yet Competent

(3 points each)

Analysis of group process and other’s rating of self

Clearly articulates what worked well/did not work well and why, and ways to increase effectiveness and efficiency of group process in the future.

AND


Group members rated you well.

Discusses only two of the three;

AND/OR


Group members did not rate you well

Does not articulate any of the three

AND


Group members did not rate you well.

TOTAL: __________/ 35 points

COMMENTS:


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