The Conquest of the Aztec Empire 1518–19

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Map Code: Ax01299

In October 1518 Hernán Cortés led an expedition, funded by the governor of the Spanish colony on Cuba, Diego Velázquez, along the coast of Mexico in search of trade prospects. On his journey west, Cortés made contact with Gerónimo de Aguilar who had been living amongst the Mayans of the Yucatán Peninsula after being shipwrecked during a previous expedition in 1511. Aguilar and a Mayan woman, who became known as La Maniche, were able to act as vital translators for Cortés during the upcoming expedition. After establishing a base at Veracruz in April 1519, Cortés secured assistance from the Totonacs and the Tlaxcalans, who sided with the Spanish against their enemies, the Aztecs. Cortés and the Tlaxcalans then massacred the Aztec forces in Cholula in November 1519, forcing Aztec ruler Moctezuma II to accept the Spanish as guests in the capital Tentochtitán, a decision which began the downfall of the Aztec empire. By November 1519 Moctezuma was Cortés’s prisoner, and emperor in name only.

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