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Spanish Arrival in Mesoamerica. Arrival Conquistadors Aztec Accounts. Arrival A.D. 1519. The first city the Spanish saw was Cempoala on the Veracruz coastal plain. Received by the Totonac ruler. city with five pyramids and a round temple dedicated to Quetzalcoatl.

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Spanish Arrival in Mesoamerica



Aztec Accounts

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ArrivalA.D. 1519

  • The first city the Spanish saw was Cempoala on the Veracruz coastal plain.

    • Received by the Totonac ruler.

    • city with five pyramids and a round temple dedicated to Quetzalcoatl.

    • walled and raised above ground level for defense and floods.

    • Impressed by the pottery and architecture of these “savages”

  • Traveled above the coastal plain and through the volcanoes-Popcatpetl and Iztaccihuatl.

    • Beneath them was the Basin of Mexico.

    • 7700 sq km, with forested mts surrounding it.

    • center was a chain of five lakes.

    • They saw the inland city of Tenochtitlan from there.

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  • (1485-1547), Spanish explorer and conqueror of the Aztec Empire of Mexico.

  • Cortés was born in Medellín, Extremadura. He studied law at the University of Salamanca but cut short his university career in 1501 and decided to try his fortune in the Americas.

  • Cortés sailed for Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) in the spring of 1504. In 1511 he joined Spanish soldier and administrator Diego Velázquez in the conquest of Cuba and subsequently became alcalde (mayor) of Santiago de Cuba.

  • In 1518 Cortés persuaded Velázquez, who had become governor of Cuba, to give him the command of an expedition to Mexico. The mainland had been discovered the year before by Spanish soldier and explorer Francisco Fernández de Córdoba and subsequently by Juan de Grijalva, nephew of Velázquez.

  • On February 19, 1519, Cortés, with a force of some 600 men, fewer than 20 horses, and 10 field pieces, set sail from Cuba.

  • Cortés sailed along the coast of Yucatán and in March 1519 landed in Mexico, subjugating the town of Tabasco. From the native inhabitants of Tabasco, Cortés learned of the Aztec Empire and its ruler, Montezuma II.

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  • Bernal Diaz del Castillo

    • One of Cortes’ conquistadors.

    • 1495 (Spain) to 1584 (Guatemala).

    • Account written in 1555, many years after the conquest.

    • Left Spain in 1514 where he went to Cuba where a relation was governor.

    • joined Hernandez de Cordova and went to Florida where they received a hostel reception.

    • Back to Cuba where he eventually joined Cortes in 1519 where they set sail from Port of Trinidad to Veracruz.

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March Inland

  • Forced their way inland to Basin of Mexico where they met with little resistance until Tlaxcala.

  • Castillo was wounded on the head and thigh and eventually Cortes made peace and formed an alliance with the inhabitants.

  • Continued their march where they massacred people at Itzcalpan, Tlamanalco, and Itztapalatengo.

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Meeting between Cortes and Moctezuma II

  • An emissary of Moctezuma II met them and welcomed them and crossed the causeway.

    • Received by Moctezuma with much pomp and circumstance and offered them the city with little resistance.

    • There they stood by them and Montezuma approached on a litter.

  • Moctezuma was dressed very richly.

    • covered by a rich canopy of green colored feathers with gold and silver embroidery.

    • Montezuma had on sandals with soles of gold and the upper part adorned with precious stones.

    • As he walked his servents swept the ground and put cloth on it so he need not touch the dirt.

    • there they were shown their lodgings in the city which were richly decorated.

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Stay in Mexico City

  • Received after a banquet at Montezumas court and exchanged more gifts.

  • Castillo repeatedly refers to the reverence Moctezuma paid to the “Emperor” of which he believed Cortes to be an emissary.

  • Moctezuma later says that now that he has seen them and seen that they were “flesh and bone” like himself and he would share his possessions with Cortes.

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  • Moctezuma was kept prisoner in his palace by the Spanish and gave up the lords of the cities who had resisted the Spanish.

  • Many native chieftans were burned to death.

  • Finally swore fealty to King of Spain

  • Provided the Spanish with seven hundred thousand dollars in gold, as well as cloth and women.

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Death of Moctezuma II

  • Cortés called on Montezuma to quell the revolt.

  • But the Aztec ruler was stoned while addressing his subjects.

  • He reportedly died three days later. Montezuma was succeeded by Cuitlahuac, who died of small pox 80 days later

  • Then, Moctezumas’ nephew, Cuatemotzin, succeeded and became the last Aztec ruler.

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  • Governor of Cuba-Valasquez sent troops to see what was going on, because Cortes was keeping all the riches to himself.

    • Troops led by Navarez

      • fleet of nineteen ships and fourteen hundred soldiers

      • armed with cannons, guns, and horses.

  • Cortes left for the coast and fought with troops, but won them over with gold.

    • Meanwhile, the Aztecs had risen against those left behind and forced them away.

    • They fled to Tlaxcala where they were fortified by reinforcements from Cuba as well as Natives.

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Mexico Revolts

  • Cortes hears word that Mexico has revolted in their absence.

  • After several squirmishes they retreated to Tlaxcala

  • Here they got 4,000 soldiers from the Tlaxcalans.

  • more followed from other areas.

  • Cortes built launches with the native labor.

  • Unfortunately suffered many defeats.

  • every causeway they captured and barricaded was recaputured and opend at night by the Mexicans.

  • July 15 Cortes is resupplied by Vera Cruz with weapons from Ponce de Leon.

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The “80” day siege

  • The siege began on May 21, 1521 and lasted for 85 days.

  • Finally ended when the Spanish captured the northeast section of the city and eventually conquered the remaining Aztecs.

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Mexico Surrenders

  • Cuauhtemoc, the nephew of Moctezuma II sets our from the city and surrenders to Cortes sometime around August 14, 1521.