The day the Spanish came to the capital of the Aztec Empire – level 3


In the year 1519, Spanish sailors under the leadership of Hernán Cortés arrive at the Yucatan Peninsula, today’s Mexico.

Cortés sinks all his ships and begins to conquer the territory. He learns that there is a rich Aztec empire inland where people have a lot of gold. The Aztec capital is built on water in the middle of a large lake. It’s 400 kilometers from the sea. Cortés wants to go there.

On November 8, 1521, Cortés and 600 of his men find themselves at the gates of the capital. Cortés is amazed by the city. It has 300,000 inhabitants, which is 10 times more than the biggest Spanish city at that time.

The Aztec ruler Montezuma II welcomes all the men in peace and puts them in one of his palaces. A week later, Cortés shows his real intentions and captures the ruler. The Aztecs are not happy with the situation. They start a big fight. Many people are killed on both sides, including the ruler. Cortés has to run away.

Cortés decides to build new ships on the shores of the lake. Some local people who don’t like the Aztecs help him. When the ships are finished, the Spanish begin to blockade the city. The blockade lasts 80 days. People in the city are starving and dying of a disease that the Spanish brought from Europe.

On August 13, 1521, Cortés conquers the city and the Aztec Empire starts to disappear.

Difficult words: sink (to destroy a ship and let it go under water), conquer (to get control of a country by fighting), learn (to get information), intention (a plan to do something), capture (to catch and keep somebody as a prisoner), blockade (to block the entrance), last (to take time).

What was the main reason for the Spanish victory over the Aztecs?


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