Aztec Calendar Hernan Cortez biography In this brief Hernan Cortez biography, we'll try to learn a bit more about the man who tried to conquer the Aztec empire.
The astonishing handover occurred amid the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the shattered capital of a mighty empire whose influence had stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific and extended from central Mexico south into parts of what would become Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He ordered the city razed.
Envoys from every tribe in the former empire later came to gaze on the wrecked remains of the city that had held them in subjection and fear for so long. Less than three years had passed since he set foot on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, yet he had destroyed the greatest power in Mesoamerica with a relative handful of men.
His initial force comprised 11 ships, sailors, soldiers—including 32 crossbowmen and 13 bearing harquebuses early firearms —10 heavy guns, four falconets and 16 horses.
The force size ebbed and flowed, but he never commanded more than the 1, Spaniards he had with him at the start of the final assault. Yet scholars of the period have long underrated his generalship, instead attributing his success to three distinct factors.
First was the relative superiority of Spanish military technology. Second is the notion smallpox had so severely reduced the Aztecs that they were unable mount an effective resistance.
Atlatls, slings and simple bows—their missiles tipped with obsidian, flint or fish bone—could not match the power or range of the crossbow.
The Spaniards also benefitted from their use of the horse, which was unknown to Mesoamericans. Though the conquistadors had few mounts at their disposal, tribal foot soldiers simply could not match the speed, mobility or shock effect of the Spanish cavalry, nor were their weapons suited to repelling horsemen.
When pitted against European military science and practice, the Mesoamerican way of war also suffered from undeniable weaknesses. While the tribes put great emphasis on order in battle—they organized their forces into companies, each under its own chieftain and banner, and understood the value of orderly advances and withdrawals—their tactics were relatively unsophisticated.
They employed such maneuvers as feigned retreats, ambushes and ambuscades but failed to grasp the importance of concentrating forces against a single point of the enemy line or of supporting and relieving forward assault units.
Such deficiencies allowed the conquistadors to triumph even when outnumbered by as much as to Deeply ingrained aspects of their culture also hampered the Aztecs.
Social status was partly dependent on skill in battle, which was measured not by the number of enemies killed, but by the number captured for sacrifice to the gods.
Thus warriors did not fight with the intention of killing their enemies outright, but of wounding or stunning them so they could be bound and passed back through the ranks.
More than one Spaniard, downed and struggling, owed his life to this practice, which enabled his fellows to rescue him. Further, the Mesoamerican forces were unprepared for lengthy campaigns, as their dependence on levies of agricultural workers placed limits on their ability to mobilize and sustain sufficient forces.
They could not wage war effectively during the planting and harvest seasons, nor did they undertake campaigns in the May—September rainy season. Night actions were also unusual. The conquistadors, on the other hand, were trained to kill their enemies on the field of battle and were ready to fight year-round, day or night, in whatever conditions until they achieved victory.
He engaged hundreds of thousands of determined enemies on their home ground with only fitful opportunities for reinforcement and resupply. Two telltale facts indicate that his success against New World opponents was as much the result of solid leadership as of technological superiority.
Reports from the coast indicated the fleet comprised 18 ships bearing some soldiers—including 80 cavalrymen, 80 harquebusiers and crossbowmen—all well provisioned and supported by heavy guns. Yet to march out of Tenochtitlan to engage the new arrivals also presented significant risks.Even after successfully completing the conquest, Cortés received no quarter from his enemies, who accused him of both defrauding the crown of its rightful revenues and fomenting rebellion.
On Dec. 2, , the year-old former conquistador died a wealthy but embittered man in Spain. As a result of his success, King Charles I of Spain appointed Cortés as governor of New Spain.
Later years In , Gov.
Cortés went to Honduras to quell a rebellion against him. His History of the Conquest of Mexico, first published in , remains an important unified narrative synthesis of the conquest.
Prescott read and used all the formal writings from the sixteenth century, although few had been published by the mid-nineteenth century when he was writing.
: 82 Until Cortes's marriage to his second Territorial changes: Annexation of the Aztec Empire, Tarascans and others by Spanish Empire.
Aug 21, · Watch video · He ignored orders and traveled to Mexico with about men and 11 ships in , setting his sights on overthrowing ruler Montezuma II in the Aztec capital of Tenochitilán.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire is the subject of an opera, La Conquista () and of a set of six symphonic poems, La Nueva España (–99) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero. Cortés's conquest has been depicted in numerous television documentaries.
Cortés fought his way out of the city with great loss to his ranks, and fled back to the coast.
After several months of recovery, Cortés decided to mount a last final attack on Mexico City.