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Mexico Colonization

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 3 months ago

The Colonization of Mexico


The Aztecs vs. The Spanish




Hi. This is Derek and Matthew. We are studying how the Spanish colonized Mexico for our social studies project. We are learning this from different points of view; Matthew being the Spaniard (Hernán Cortés), and Derek being the Aztec (Namacuix). Our blog is mexicocolonization.wordpress.com if you want to find out more. Here is some of our information.


The Spanish Side of the Story


Hernán Cortés

Born (1485–December 2, 1547). He killed all the aztecs. April 21, 1519, a fleet of 11 Spanish galleons sailing along the eastern gulf coast dropped anchor just off the wind-swept beach on the island of San Juan de Ulúa. Under the command of the wily, daring Hernán Cortés, the vessels bore 550 Spanish soldiers and sailors, as well as 16 horses, the first of the species to tread the American continent. Hernán Cortés made friends with a native group called the Tlaxcalans, who were enemies of the Aztecs. The Tlaxcalans helped Cortés fight against the Aztecs.The fall of the Aztec empire and capture of its ruler Cuauhtémoc happened in 1522. This left Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in charge of a vast and largely unfamiliar land. Disease killed almost more than he did.


He first arrived to the New World in until when he was 18 in 1503. Cortés sailed in a convoy of merchant ships bound for Santo Domingo, the capital of Hispaniola. Upon his arrival, he registered as a citizen, which entitled him to a building plot and land for cultivation. Soon afterwards, Ovando, still the governor, gave him a repartimiento of Indians and made him a notary of the town of Azuza. His next five years seem to have served to establish him in the colony, though he managed to contract syphilis from Indian women in the area, a disease which until that time had been unknown in the New World but which brought great havoc in the Americas after its introduction by the Spaniards. In 1506, Cortés took part in the conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba, receiving a large estate of land and Indian slaves for his effort.


In 1510, he accompanied Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, an aide of the governor of Hispaniola, in his expedition to conquer Cuba. At the age of 26, Cortés was made clerk to the treasurer with the responsibility of insuring that the Crown received the quinto, or customary one-fifth of the profits from the expedition.The governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez, was so impressed with Cortés that he secured a high political position for him in the colony. Cortés continued to build a reputation as a daring and bold leader. He became secretary for Governor Velázquez. Cortes was appointed mayor of Santiago. In Cuba, Cortés became a man of substance with a repartimiento of Indians, mines and cattle. In 1514, Cortés led a group that wanted more natives for the settlers.



The Aztec Side of the Story



Who are the Aztecs?


The Aztecs also known and Mexicas, were Native American people. They were small and nomadic people. The Aztecs believed that they decended from the Toltec nobility and their gods. The Toltecs were dominant in Mexico between the years of 950 AD and 1200 AD. According to the Aztec legends, they also originated from a place called Aztlan. Aztland is somewhere northwest of Mexico. The Aztec people wandered around in the 12th century and eventually settled in a central basin of Mexico in the 13th century. Dislodged city-states fought each other due to shifty alliances. They finally found refuge on small islands in Lake Texcoco. In 1325, the Aztec people founded the town of Tenochtitlan.





Tenochtitlan became very powerful in the 1400's. By this time, Tenochtitlan controlled every region around it. This formed a sort of city-state. Tenochtitlan later formed and alliance with Texcoco and Tlacopan. Tenochtitlan eventually became the most powerful of the three. The city of Tenochtitlan eventually became the center of the Aztec Empire. At the height of Tenochtitlan's power, the city was one of the largest cities in the world. It covered an estimate of 8 to 13.4 square kilometers. This area was divided into four sections. To the Aztecs, they were called campans. Each campan was divided into districts, or calpullis. Calpullis were divided into streets, also called tlaxicalli. The three main streets of the city would lead to one of three causeways to the mainland. In the center of the city, there were many public places. For example, there were many temples and schools in the center of the city. There were about forty-five of these public buildings. These included the main temple, the temple of Quetzalcoatl, the ball game, the rack of skulls, the temple of the sun, the platforms of the gladitorial sacrifices, and some minor temples. Also, the palace of Moctezuma is located outside of the center of Tenochtitlan; which had one hundred rooms.


There was a flood of Lake Texcoco that ruined the city of Tenochtitlan. It was rebuilt under the emperor Ahuitzáotl and became one of the greatest in Mesoamerica.





Ahuitzáotl was not the only emperor of the Aztecs. He was actually one of the most recent emperors. Here are the Aztec emperors.
NameTranslationDates Served



All emperors had to be male. This was normal for the Aztecs. Also, royalty passed down from father to son. If an emperor had more than one son, the eldest son would be emperor before his other siblings. Some of these emperors, like Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, were trained to be emperor by their father.





A typical family included a husband, a wife, their unmarried children, and the husbands relatives. The husbands' extended relatives, which included his chilren, helped out with the work. The husbands' duty was to support his family. Many husbands did this by either farming or doing craftwork. The wife's responsibilites were to weave the childrens clothes and do the cooking. Women were usually married by the age of sixteen, while men were usually married by the age of twenty. The children, mainly boys, were educated until the age of ten.





Education was mostly taught to boys. Their father's gave them their education. Children then attended schools run by their capolli. Calpolli schools taught general education and military training. Temple schools also offered religious education, so that he can be a priest or some other religious leader. Some girls attended these schools, but most learned household skills, like cooking and cleaning, at home.





Aztec houses were very rural. They were built simple and designed for usefulness, rather than beauty. In the highlands, houses were made of adobe, otherwise known as a dark heavy soil. In the lowlands, housing was made up of thatched roofs and walls that were made of branches and plastered with clay. Rich Aztec people had large adobe or stone houses that were built around a patio. Maindwelling families had more than one building; a sweat house in which they take sweat baths and a store house or a market.





Agriculture was very important to the Aztec Empire. It formed the basis of the Aztec economy. Agriculture was so important because it could produce many goods to trade for other goods. It also provided food forthe Aztec people. Corn was the most important crop. The farmers also grew avacados, beans, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and many other crops. Also, the Lowlands provided cotton, papayas, and rubber. They also provided cocoa beans; in which chocolate is made out of.





The market place was a major center of Aztec life. This was where many Aztecs could trade goods for other goods. THey also didn't have a system of money, so that's all they could do. Each calpulli had it's own market place. Tlatelolco was the largest market place. It provided almost everything that the Aztecs needed from the Aztec world. On regular days, about 20,000 people visited the market place. On feast days, about twice as many people visited that market place. There was also another kind of trade. This involved a merchant called a pochteca running around the empire, trading goods for goods.





The princible food was a thin, cornmeal pancake called a tlaxcalli. In Spanish, this was called a tortilla. This was used to scoop up other foods. It was also wrapped around vegetables and meat to form a taco. In general, Aztec cooking was rich and spicy. This was probably because many of the Aztec dishes were flavoured with chilli peppers.


Hunting provided a lot of the meat of the Aztec diet. They mostly hunted deer, rabbits, and birds like ducks and geese. They also raised dogs and turkeys for meat as well. Also, the Aztecs made octil. This is an alchoholic beverage that was made out of the maguey plant.





The Aztecs made clothes with what they had. The more poor Aztecs made their clothes out of maguey fibers, while the more rich Aztecs made their clothes out of cotton. The women wore a loose, sleeveless blouse and a wrap around skirt, while the men wore a cloth around their hips and a cloak that was knotted over one shoulder. The more decoration you had on your clothes also indicated the wealth of the person wearing that out fit.



Arts and Crafts


Aztec sculptures were really elaborate. The calendar stone is the most famous sculpture that survived. This explains the Aztec Universe. The stone measures about 3.7 meters in diameter. The Aztec people also took many forms of oral literature like poetry and tradtional stories. Music was also important to the Aztecs. It played a major role in religion. The main instruments of the Aztecs were drums, flutes, and rattles. Many crafts were made by the Aztecs as well. Craftworkers, for example, used feathers to make cloaks and headresses. Metal workings, pottery, weaves, and woodcarvings were made, too.





The language that the Aztecs spoke was Nahuatl. It belongs to a large group of Indian languages called the Aztec-Tanoan. This is also known as Uto-Aztecan family. The language family also includes languages spoken by the Pima, Shoshone, the Comanche, and other tribes of western North America. The Aztecs wrote in a writing called pictographic writing. These contain mainly pictures. They represent toughts or ideas. They also represent syllables. This was mainly used for business records, censuses, tax lists, and historical and religious writings.





Religion was an major part of the Aztec life. They devoted a lot of time to religious practices. For example, human sacrifice was a religious practice. For human sacrifice, like all other religious practices, they were held in ceremonial called teolcallis. Priests used to slash open the chest of the victim and rip out his/her heart. The Aztecs believed that their gods needed human hearts and blood to survive. The prisoners were mainly slaves or prisoners. Although, children were sacrificed to the god Tlaloc.


The Aztecs worshiped many gods and goddesses. Each one ruled one or more human activities or aspects of nature. This was because the Aztec culture was based on farming.


Some gods and goddesses are:


*CENTEOTL : The corn god.
*COATLICUE : She of the Serpent Skirt.
*EHECATL: The god of wind.
*MICTLANTECUHTLE: The god of the dead.
*OMETECUHLTI and his wife OMECIHUATL: Creators of all life in the world.
*QUETZALCOATL: The god of civilization and learning
*TEZCATLIPOCA: The god of night and sorcery .
*TONATIUH: The sun god.
*XIPE TOTEC: The god of springtime and regrowth.
*XIUHTECUHTLE: The fire god.


These weren't the only gods. There were many, many, many more.





Warfare was considered to be a religious duty. The men fought to enlarge the empire and to take prisoners as human sacrifices. Men who took captives were rewarded. They recieved land, high social rank, and important government offices.


Aztec weaponry was designed to capture rather than to kill. For example, a macuahuitl is a weapon that is a wooden club edged with sharp pieces of volcanic glass. This weapon was used to knock people out, rather than killing. The Aztec people also used spears and bow and arrows. For protection, the Aztecs carried shields and wore cotton armour for protection.



The Fall of the Aztec Empire


Hernán Cortés arrived in the city of Mexico on November 8, 1519. He was accompanied by about 600 Spaniards and Native allies that were enemies of the Aztecs. Emperor Montezuma Xocoyotzin thought that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl because Aztec legends said that Quetzalcoatl sailed east, which was where Hernán Cortés and his allies came from. Because of this, Cortés was treated like royalty. Montezuma gave Hernán Cortés plenty of gifts. The Spanish took advantage of this and asked for vast amounts of gold. Then, the Hernán Cortés became more powerful than the Emperor and Montezuma became a prisoner in his own palace. Meanwhile, the Spanish allies were surveying the empire. The Aztec civilians realized how weak the emperor was and started to rebel agaisnt the Spanish. In 1520, the Aztecs drove the Spanish out. In 1521, the Spanish regrouped and captured the city of Tenochtitlan. Then the Aztecs surrendered to Hernán Cortés on August 13, 1521. With all the war going on, the Aztec Empire finally fell on April 22, 1522.



Aztec Quotes


During Hernán Cortés's conquest of Mexico, there was a lot of war going on. Many Aztec writers wrote about it and some of their messages are still heard today. Here are two Aztec quotes.


“The 'stags' came forward, carrying soldiers on their backs. The soldiers wore cotton armor. They bore their leather shields and their iron spears in their hands, but their swords hung down from the necks of the stags. The animals wear many little bells. When they run, the bells make a loud clamor, ringing and reverberating. These animals snort and bellow. They sweat a great deal and the sweat pours from their bodies in streams. Foam from their muzzles drips onto the ground in fat drops, like a lather of amole (soap) When they run, they make a loud noise, as if stones were raining on the earth. Then the earth is pitted and cracked open wherever their hooves have touched it.”


“They ran in among the dancers, forcing their way to the place where the drums were played. They attacked the man who was drumming and cut off his arms. Then they cut off his head, and it rolled across the floor. They attacked all the celebrants, stabbing them, spearing them, striking them with their swords. They attacked some of them from behind, and these fell instantly to the ground with their entrails hanging out. Others they beheaded: they cut off their heads, or split their heads to pieces. They struck others in the shoulders, and their arms were torn from their bodies. They wounded some in the thigh and some in the calf. They slashed others in the abdomen, and their entrails all spilled to the ground. Some attempted to run away, but their intestines dragged as they ran; they seemed to tangle their feet in their own entrails. No matter how they tried to save themselves, they could find no escape.”



Other Links


Male Nahuatl Names


Female Nahuatl Names


Aztec Empire Location


Aztec Calendar

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