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Study guide for Term Test #1 (first 5 events)

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University of Toronto St. George
Nhung Tuyet Tran

Term Test Study Sheets Event 1: Conquest of the Aztec Empire Context and Summary Aztec expansion and demographic growth o Sub-ordinates began to outnumber rulers o Organized into city-states o Had to be appeased, or they could unify to overthrow the ruling class Triple Alliance (in the 1430s) o Texcoco, Tenochtitlan, and Tlacopan Tenochtitlan (Aztecs) eventually becomes dominant, and the other two members of the Triple Alliance pay tribute to Tenochtitlan Each maintained its own independent leadership, but owed tribute and allegiance to the Aztecs o Dynastic ruling elite o Higher power than other city-states Economic Organization o Permanent settled agriculture o System of labour exaction: common people owed a set amount of service to the elite Produced and stockpiled goods for various reasons (incl. religious) 1519: Spanish governor of Cuba Diego Valquez sends Cortes to Mexico to find and conquer the Aztec empire o As Valquez is about to discharge Cortes, he sets off for Mexico without the governors permission Cortes finds his own city upon arrival; may indicate his power-hungry nature, need for a legacy, need for a base, tangible ownership in the New World o Cortes writes a letter to the governor saying that he will conquer the Aztec empire for the following reasons (and sets off without waiting for a reply) Convert the Aztecs to Christianity Find and capture treasure (gold) Nov 8, 1519: Cortes meets the Aztec emperor, Motecuhzoma in a friendly, diplomatic meeting o War is sparked by Spanish killing Aztecs during a religious ritual o Night of Sorrows Spanish try to flee at night, many are killed and gold is recollected by the Aztecs Motecuhzoma, the emperor, has died New emperor, Cuitlahuac is appointed (to be succeeded by Cuauhtemoc) and a celebration ensues; the Spanish are thought to have retreated o July 20, 1520: Cortes allies with Texcoco (a disgruntled member of the Triple Alliance) Successfully converts a Texcoco prince to Christianity Also allies with Tlaxcala o August 13, 1521: Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan Aztec population weakened by smallpox, exhaustion from war, starvation, dehydration (waterways polluted) Cortes demands the gold lost on the Night of Sorrows Battle pursues Aztecs killed, Cuauhtemoc tortured; Aztecs called to stop fighting by Cuauhtemoc and to flee City falls to the Spanish Causes of the Downfall Biological Factors (Cortes major advantage) o Disease from the Spanish (smallpox, flu, typhus) o Aztecs did not have immunity to these diseases o Approx. 13 million dead due to this alone Political Factors (Cortes major advantage) o Non-loyal city-states allied with the Spanish o Aztec empire was not a united force o Allied with Texcoco, a member of the Triple Alliance o Allied with Tlaxcala: was at a strategic point halfway between the coast and the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan o Essentially an Aztec civil war that the Spanish took advantage of Technological Factors o Spanish had advanced weaponry Gunpowder, steel, horses, dogs, guns o Aztecs used obsidian and copper weapons; not guns or knowledge of gunpowder Cultural Factors o Aztecs were more ceremonial with war; differences of customs surrounding war They expected a tribal challenge before a battle, which was not a Spanish custom
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