Columbian Exchange - goods brought to America and Eurasia
Wheat, Rye, Oats, Pumpkins
Farming Plow Avocados
Citrus Fruits Sweet Potatos
Guns Understanding of Astronomy
Steel Stonework ability
How did the Spaniards defeat the Aztec empire so easily? How did the conquest take place?
The Spanish easily conquered the Aztecs. They did this so easily because of the technology, ability to deceive, and alliances that the Spanish had with other Native tribes that were against the Aztecs as well. Hernan Cortes, along with 600 armed men, carried out an invasion. As brutal and savage as it was, Cortes and his men slaughtered the Aztecs. Nearly 90% to 95% of the Aztec population was killed. It took such a short amount of time to sweep them away, because the Spanish had more advanced technology. They had steel, which was incredibly useful. They had guns. Guns were very powerful, and were believed to “make thunder”. The advancements of their technology brought surprise to the Aztecs.
The Europeans were more advanced than the Americans for a variety of reasons. One very effective reason is the way their country laid out; their geography. They were positioned east to west, while the Americas were positioned north to south. The Europeans were able to exchange ideas, especially related to farming and food. The Americans were unable to do this, because of their climate due to their geography. Some parts of America were extremely close to the equator, while other parts were far away. Therefore the farming techniques of those near the equator had to be very different than the farming techniques of those far away from the equator. This took a lot of work, trying to find different ways of growing crops. It also disconnected the American people in a way.
The Spaniards were cunning. Hernan Cortes made alliances with people who were also against the Aztecs, promising them safety and protection. They later killed the alliances they had made, breaking their promise and destroying the tribes. Cortes also sneaked into Tenochtitlan acting as Quetzalcoatl and killed thousands of Aztecs. Another example of Spaniards being cunning was Christopher Columbus, who was able to convince Queen Isabella to allow him to go on the expedition when he didn’t even come from her country!
Another way the Spaniards conquered so easily is because of disease. When Cortes and his 600 men who had volunteered came, there were European disease amongst them. Diseases can wipe out civilizations with even thousands of people. This happened to the Aztecs because they had no immunity to the diseases that the Europeans brought, while the Europeans did have a built up immunity to the diseases. These diseases were an inevitable part of history - meaning they couldn’t be avoided. Even if a European had arrived in the Americas meaning no harm, they still would have killed off thousands of native people because of disease.
Important and Influential: People of Spanish Conquest
Queen Isabella -
The queen of Spain who funded Columbus’s famous expedition.
Why do they fund expeditions?
For the king and queen, funding expeditions was a win/win situation. By funding it, they didn't lose many resources, even if the conquistadors never came back. They would send them off with their most damaged ships. Often, the explorers would bring criminals on their journeys, because no one else wanted to go. People thought that the world was flat, and it was possible to sail off the edge of the world. If the people on the expeditions never came back, the criminals would just be out of the way.
What if the explorers did come upon something?
If explorers were to find something valuable, it would be a big win for the king and queen. They would earn:
Christopher Columbus -
Christopher Columbus was an explorer and the first person to “stumble upon” America in a European perspective. He opened up a trade route between the Americas and Eurasia.
Hernan Cortes -
Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztecs. He appeared at a ceremony with weapons and savagely killed off thousands of Aztecs. He was a leader in Spanish conquest and was a sort of “inspiration” to conquistadors with his brutal ways. They tried to “outdo” him, and by doing so they opened up an entirely new chapter of Spanish conquest. This gave Spaniards a lot of American land and goods.
Moctezuma 11 -
Moctezuma 11 was the son of Moctezuma 1 and the leader of the Aztec empire when it was conquered. One day he saw a meteor shower and believed this was a sign coming directly from the gods, so when Cortes appeared, he was all too quick to let him into the city. He believed that Hernan Cortes was the light skinned Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, and allowed him into the city as an honored guest. This was a bad leadership decision and ultimately led to the downfall of the Aztec empire when Cortes began to savagely attack Aztecs.
In terms of culture, how did the Spanish shape the world we live in today?
When Columbus stumbled upon America, he opened new doors to the Spaniards. He opened up a new trade route between the Americans and Europeans. This gave Americans and Europeans new crops and technology that the cultures had never seen before. For example, when you think of Italy, don’t you imagine pizza? Pasta with tomato sauce? Well… if the Columbian exchange had never occurred, Italy would be without tomatoes. An important piece of technology brought to the Americas would be the plow. This allowed people to farm with ease, and much less human labor was necessary. Farming became much quicker from then on. This allowed people to produce more food, so they had more food to sell, which gave them more money. More food means less hungry people, and more money means less poor people. When you put all these factors together, the results are amazing. People will be able to spend their free time going to school and getting jobs (which more people will have access to because they have more money and they can even start their own businesses). Can you see how bringing the plow into society boosted the economy?
The Spaniards killed off thousands of native people. They brought their own people to the lands they had conquered, and somewhat replaced the native people. This is a very sad aspect of Spanish conquest, however it was a very influential part of it.
The Spanish Conquistadors did something else - they stayed. This is the single most important thing that the conquistadors did. When they did this, they colonized natives, and forced a new culture and religion upon them. This is the reason why so many people in the Americas are Christian. It’s also the reason why many countries in the Americas speak Spanish. They built new cities, and created new families. They were now a part of the Americas.