The Fall of the Aztecs

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The Fall of the Aztecs

In 1519, Hernando Cortes and 508 men set sailed and arrived in present-day Mexico. They encountered the Aztecs, the people who inhabited and conquered most of Mexico. Their empire was ruled by a man named Montezuma from the capital city, Tenochtitlan. Montezuma feared that Cortes and his men were sent by the Aztec gods. To hopefully convince Cortes to leave, Montezuma sent him gifts of silver and gold. This does not cause Cortes to leave, but causes him and his men to stay and defeat the Aztecs. To gain help, Cortes makes alliances with other natives of Mexico who dislike the Aztecs because they take their resources as well as their people for sacrifices. Cortes marches inland to Tenochtitlan where Montezuma accepts him and his men as his guests. Cortes takes Montezuma captive in his own palace and attempts to rule the Aztecs through Montezuma. But the Aztecs rebel. They surround Cortes and his men in the palace. On the night of June 30, 1520, Cortes tries to escape, but the Aztecs discover them and fighting breaks out. Over 800 Spaniards and 1000 of their allies are killed that night. It becomes known as La Noche Triste (The Sad Night). In May 1521, Cortes regroups and heads back to Tenochtitlan. This time, Cortes is aided by an invisible disease known as smallpox. With the aid of smallpox, allies and superior weapons Cortes holds Tenochtitlan under siege for 3 months after which it falls. The Spanish build Mexico City on top of the ruins of a once great civilization.

The Fall of the Incas

The Incan Empire is centered in the Cuzco Valley in Peru. In 1525, the empire ruled 2,000 miles land west of the Andes and from 4 – 6 million people. Because the Incan Empire was internally divided they were in a weakened state when the Spanish arrived. In 1532, Francisco Pizarro and 180 men arrived in the Inca Empire, with the desire to become wealthy with their gold and silver. The Inca Emperor, Atahualpa, feared that the Spanish were gods and ordered his troops, soldiers, not to fight them. When the Spanish first saw the Incans covered with colorful plumage and plates of gold and silver, they stood in awe. But the Incans were shocked by the guns and horses of the Spanish. Seizing the opportunity the Spanish attacked quickly, killing thousands and taking Atahualpa captive. Atahualpa gave the Spaniards gold and more gold, but after receiving the gold, they killed Atahualpa. With the head of the empire dead, the Incan Empire fell quickly. The Incas refused to fight because of the order given by Atahualpa and Pizarro claimed the fallen empire and its land for Spain.

The Aztec Codex Assignment

  1. Students will create an Aztec Codex describing either the history of the fall of the Aztec Empire or the fall of the Incan Empire.

  2. It must contain a cover page with picture and title

  3. It must contain 6 pictures with descriptions, discussing the main points of either story.

  4. If not finished in class, finish as homework. Will be due at the beginning of class the following day.

Aztec Codex

The Aztecs wrote from left to right and top to bottom, like we do today. They had rules for drawing people. The head and feet were shown from the side, while the body was shown from the front. They used mostly earth tones such as red, green, brown, black and blue. Here are some examples:

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