Fall of the Aztecs • In the year 1519, the Aztecs were ruled by king Motecuhzoma. • In the past 2 years some odd things had taken place in the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. • The Earth had shaken (Earthquake) • The lake had flooded the city • Comets had been seen in the sky • Aztec priests had studied these natural wonders and decided that the Aztec Empire was coming to an end.
The Aztec God • The Aztec’s noticed that there were men with white skin and black beards were coming to Tenochtitlan. • The Aztec people believed that Quetzalcoatl, the light-skinned god would one day return to rule his people. • The Aztec people thought Hernando Cortes might be the god Quetzalcoatl.
Hernando Cortes • Cortes was sent by the Spanish government to look for gold in present day Mexico. • He traveled with more than 500 soldiers, 14 cannons, 16 horses, and several dogs. • Before he sent out on his journey, he had heard stories about the great wealth of the Aztec Empire. • In the spring of 1519, Cortes landed on the east coast of Mexico. • There he defeated the Indians and set out for the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
Cortes’ Journey • The journey covered 200 miles from the tropical coast, through the snowy mountains, and into the Valley of Mexico. • After marching for 83 days, Cortes and his soldiers, joined by large numbers of the Aztecs’ Indian enemies, finally reached Tenochtitlan. • Thinking that Cortes might be Quetzalcoatl, Motecuhzoma welcomed him, offering housing and gifts of gold.
Cortes conquers the Aztecs • Soon, Cortes took Motecuhzoma prisoner and within two years the Aztec ruler was dead and his capital city was in ruins. • Spanish weapons and European diseases, which were new to the Indians, had nearly destroyed the Aztec civilization. • By 1521 Cortes had conquered the Aztecs.
Spanish Rule • Conquering the Aztecs brought wealth and glory to Hernando Cortes. • Among the Europeans, Cortes and his soldiers became known as conquistadors (Spanish word for conquerors) • Spain now ruled Mexico and built Mexico City which became the capital of Spain’s new empire in the Americas.
Fall of the Incas • Other conquistadors soon followed the lead of Hernando Cortes and journeyed to the Americas to find wealth. • Francisco Pizarro heard stories of the Incas being far more powerful and richer than the Aztecs. • In 1531, sixty-year-old Pizarro and a group of 180 Spanish and African soldiers sailed from Panama and landed on the west coast of South America. • For two years they wandered around the Andes Mountains until one day they came across an Inca camp.
It covered present-day countries of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
Trouble in the Empire • This empire was larger and more powerful than they heard from the stories. • The empire covered 3,000 miles of the western coast of South America and included over 9 million people. • When Pizarro and his soldiers arrived, the Inca Empire was not at peace. • Civil War was occurring between the followers of two brothers, Atahuallpa and Huascar. • The two brothers were fighting for their right at the throne. • The war finally ended when Atahuallpa killed his brother and became emperor.
Befriending the Incas • Pizarro invited Atahuallpa to the Spanish camp as an attempt to offer friendship. • When Atahuallpa and several thousand of his people arrived at the Spanish camp, Pizarro’s priest asked Atahuallpa to give up his own religion and accept Christianity and also to accept the king of Spain as his master. • When Atahuallpa refused, Pizarro took the new emperor prisoner. • Atahuallpaattempted to buy back his freedom with promises of gold and silver, but Pizarro had him killed anyway.
The End of the Incas • After Atahuallpa’s death in 1533, the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire and made slaves of its people. • For the Spanish, the conquest brought riches and power. But for the Incas, this encounter ended a civilization.