ConquistadorsThe Fall of the Aztecs



Cabeza de Vaca
Aztec EmpireCortés' ExpeditionMontezuma's Messengers
From Explore to ConquerSpaniards in TenochtitlánCortés Seizes Power
War Breaks OutSiege of TenochtitlánFall of the Aztecs
More on Cortés in the Learning Adventure

TenochtitlánSpanish EyewitnessMontezuma's Speech
November 1519
The Most Beautiful Thing in the World

When Cortés and his men reached Tenochtitlán they were stunned. This, indeed, was a City of Dreams.

On November 8, 1519, the Spaniards marched along the causeway leading into the city. The towers, temples and canoes were thick with crowds who gathered to gape at the men and their horses.

The two processions met at the entrance to Tenochtitlán. Montezuma was in a litter draped with fine cotton mantles and borne on the shoulders of the lords. He emerged from the litter and placed necklaces of gold and precious stones round Cortés' neck. Cortés placed a necklace of pearls and cut glass around the neck of Montezuma, but was held back by two lords when he tried to embrace the emperor.

The Aztecs led the Spaniards into the heart of the city where Montezuma showered them with more gifts and then quartered them in sumptous apartments. The Aztecs knew about the massacre in Cholula and believed that the Spaniards could be irrationally and unpredictably cruel. It was as Tenochtitlán had given shelter to a monster. An Aztec account relates how the people of Tenochtitlán felt:

"as if everyone had eaten stupefying mushrooms..., as if they had seen something astonishing. Terror dominated everyone, as if all the world were being disembowelled.... People fell into a fearful slumber...."

Aztec Scroll Feature
Malinche Interprets for the Spaniards
Malinche interprets for the Spaniards when Montezuma meets Cortés.

The Spaniards Take Montezuma
Then they took Montezuma by the hand and led him away. They stroked him with their hands to express their love to him.

The Spaniards Enter the Palace
For as soon as they all came to and entered the palace, the Spaniards at once firmly seized Montezuma.
Credit: "General History of the Things of New Spain" (Florentine Codex), Books I-IX and XII, translated by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble. Santa Fe, New Mexico and Salt Lake City: The School of American Research and the University of Utah Press. Used courtesy of the University of Utah Press.
From Explore to Conquer Cortés Seizes Power

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