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History Essay

1845 words - 8 pages

The Totonacs joined forces with Cortes against the emperor and his allies. Other neighboring towns that resented the deplorable Aztec hegemony stopped paying tribute as a gesture of support for the Spanish. As a response, those in power at Tenochtitlán sent forces to Cempoala to “punish the defiance but the Spanish with newly acquired allies defeated the advancing army” (Castillo). It was here at Cempoala that the Spanish would meet the Tlaxcalans for the very first time, prompting a standoff between the two. Openly opposing the Mexica empire, the Tlaxcalans were a force to be reckoned with since they had twice prevented Aztec domination (Portilla) and were suspicious of the Spanish at first especially when the conquistadors accepted gifts from the emperor. A battle ensued in which the Spanish won only because the natives decided they could benefit from a treaty seeing as they had a common enemy. Cortes would think it was his genius in converting the Tlaxcalans to his cause but really it was them manipulating them for their own agenda. As a result from this battle, many other tribes resolved to join the Spanish out of respect including the Tlaxcalans.
Now allies, the Txcalans would provide the conquistadors with copious amounts of details on Tenochtitlán such as surrounding areas, battle tactics, and number of combatants to be expected. Just like that the 500 men soon had more than fifty thousand Tlaxcalans at their beck and call ready to go to war against the Mexica along with another twenty five thousand Indian allies. Over the next two years Cortes would acquire more soldiers as the battles waged on. The enemy was endless but with all the allies the Spanish had a chance. It is important to note that while traditionally a more Euro-centric perspective is stressed, the facts clearly show that without the natives becoming allies, things would have gone a different route. In his letters to Emperor Charles V, Cortes never once acknowledged the debt they owed to the natives and instead opts to brandish his own genius intellect and superior leadership. Without the lucky break of finding translators and alliance with the natives, the Spanish conquistadors would have never even set foot in Tenochtitlán.
The conquistadors defeated the warriors of the Mexica empire due to a number of reasons that not only pertain to the weapons they possessed. Interestingly enough, all the steel and horses contributed to the physical aspect of war but on a psycho-social level, it was the Aztecs varying conception of warfare that led to Spanish victory. Conquistadors were taught to fight to the death and move on to the next one while the Aztecs would “focus a large amount of energy to capturing and taking prisoners” (Brandt). Whether it was for personal reasons or the desire for human sacrifice, this concept impeded their chances of winning battles. Isolation can be noted as a small factor as well since the Aztecs kept their empire confined to the continent and never...

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