Cortés and the Aztecs
In 1519, inspired by rumors of gold and the existence of large, sophisticated cities in the Mexican interior, Hernán Cortés (1485–1547) was appointed to head an expedition of eleven ships and five hundred men to Mexico. At that time the great empire of the Mexica—now known as the Aztecs—dominated much of Mesoamerica. Their capital, Tenochtitlán, had become such a splendid city that, according to records, it dazzled the Spaniards, exceeding anything they had seen before. Two years after the arrival of Cortés and his conquistadors, constant war and diseases new to the Americas had destroyed Tenochtitlán, and the Aztec Empire was no more.
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