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The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs

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1 The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs
This sample should be done in the target language Spanish.

2 Summary : Mesoamerican Civilizations Aztec Empire development of a civilization Aztec Empire Characteristics Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztec Empire Aztecs. The social structure Aztecs. Human sacrifices The Europeans enter America with better technological weapons Spaniards attacked the Aztecs with the help of enemy tribes The effects of Europeans on native population: disease Conclusions

All 3 Mesoamerican civilizations existed in Central and South America and are considered empires. 1. Mayan Empire (200 AD – 900’s AD) 2. Inca Empire (1200 AD – 1535 AD) 3. Aztec Empire (1200 AD – 1535 AD) *These civilizations and other groups of Native Americans developed different and unique cultures. EMPIRE: a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor or empress. Usually a territory of great size. Examples: Roman Empire, British Empire, etc..

4 -Corn (maize), pumpkins, peppers, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco.
THE AZTECS Around 9,500 years ago, some groups of Native Americans in Central and South America learned how to farm. -Corn (maize), pumpkins, peppers, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco. -People could now settle down in one area and not live as nomads. People needed to stay in one area in order to plant seeds, tend and harvest crops. Human civilizations begin to develop in the Americas. Farming: Corn Aztec city. CIVILIZATION: Advanced culture with a religion, cities, government, written language, and social classes.

5 AZTEC EMPIRE: 1200 AD – 1535 AD -Central Mexico. -Built capital city of Tenochtitlan. -Used human sacrifices to satisfy gods. -Social Classes: Ruler, priests and nobles, warriors, merchants and artisans, farmers, and slaves. -Empire ruled by emperor. -Neighboring conquered tribes could govern themselves but had to pay tribute(tax). Enemy soldiers were used for sacrifice. -Created writing system using hieroglyphics. -Religion was polytheistic: Believed in many gods. Created 365 day calendar -Built irrigation system for crops

6 Tenochtitlan: -Over time, they conquered the area around the lake and eventually created large empire in Central Mexico. -Warfare was important because they needed a constant supply of human sacrifices as well as their tribute (tax) system.

7 Tenochtitlan: The only way to get to the city was by boat or over causeways.

8 Aztec Social Structure:
-Aztec Empire was ruled by an emperor. -Under the emperor were the priests and nobles who helped run the government. -Next were the warriors who defended the empire and captured prisoners for religious sacrifices.

-Sacrifices used to keep gods happy. -Used prisoners captured in battle; Constant warfare. Prisoners or slaves were held down and their chest was cut open and their heart pulled out. This was done while they were still alive. Aztecs developed calendar in order to keep track of religious ceremonies.


11 1492: EUROPEANS IN AMERICA -Spanish enter the America’s in 1492 when Columbus “discovers” the New World. -The Spanish search for gold take them to the Aztec Empire. -Cortes defeats and conquers the Aztec Empire. Spanish conquistador Cortes meets Monctezuma who thinks Cortes is a God. According to a legend Quetzalcoatl was supposed to return that year. -Spanish had better weapons and technology and easily defeated the Aztecs. Spanish: Muskets, metal swords and spears, cannon, horses, metal armor. Aztecs: Wooded armor, bows/arrows, spears with stone tips. Cortes takes Moctezuma hostage. Fighting broke out between the Aztec and the Spanish. During the fighting Moctezuma is killed. Cortes and his followers escape with heavy loses but come back with supplies, guns, and Native American Allies to defeat the Aztecs.

12 Spanish attacked Tenochtitlan with help from other groups of Native Americans who hated the Aztecs because they were used as slaves and human sacrifices. Can you see the groups of Native Americans helping the Spanish attack the Aztecs?

13 The Spanish defeat of Montezuma and the Aztecs.
Can you notice the differences in weapons used by both sides?

14 Effects of Europeans: Due to warfare and European diseases, the population of Native Americans decreased sharply. -European diseases, such as smallpox, measles, and the flu killed millions of Native Americans. In a period of 80 years, the population of Central America went down by 24 million people.

15 CONCLUSIONS The Fall of the Aztec Empire What caused the fall of the Aztec empire? There were a number of factors involved, not just one. There are probably many factors that we don't know about that were already contributing to the weakness of the Aztec Empire. These are some of the main factors we considered played a role in the Aztecs demise. 1. Human sacrifices Although the Aztecs certainly weren't the first people ever to sacrifice humans, the fact that they did it and the incredible number they sacrificed led to the hatred of some of the surrounding peoples. The powerful city-state of Tlaxcala was one of these. Many of their own had been sacrificed, and in the end they joined the Spaniards to fight the Aztecs. It may be that the Spanish simply were an excuse to start what was already an inevitable civil war. Lastly, it's believed that the horror of human sacrifice highly motivated the Spaniards to conquer what they considered an evil culture.

16 2. Religious Beliefs Religion already played a part because of the sacrifices to the God sun Huitzilopochtli that demanded constant supply of human blood. It is also believed that the Aztecs thought that the Spanish were gods. Moctezuma belief in the return of the god Quetzalcoatl coincided with the fateful arrival of the Cortes that same year, so instead of attacking an army that was much less in numbers they welcomed and treated Cortes as a God. Even more interesting is the theory that, at one point, the Aztecs did not completely destroy the Spanish army because they wanted more people to sacrifice to their gods. This was a tactical error that at least hastened the fall of the Aztec empire.

17 3. Disease Disease played a huge part in the fall of the Aztec empire. After Cortes landed in Mexico, another Spanish army came from Cuba to make sure he followed orders. In this new group was an African being held as a slave, who had smallpox, a very contagious disease. One of Cortes' men contracted the disease. When they returned, the Aztec army killed that soldier, and, likely, an Aztec soldier caught the disease. Quickly, smallpox spread among the population. The people had no resistance and no idea how to treat it. In many cases, everyone in a house died. With no time to bury so many people, houses were simply demolished over the bodies. During the siege of Tenochtitlan in 1520, the population was not only low on food but dying of smallpox. 25% of the empire is said to have been lost to the disease alone.

18 4. Superior technology/Tactics
Spanish had better weapons and technology and easily defeated the Aztecs. Spanish had muskets, metal swords and spears, cannon, gunpowder, horses, metal armor. The Aztecs on the other hand relied on wooded armor, bows and arrows, and spears with stone tips. Cortes also brought along 16 horses. Horses had become extinct in the Americas during the last ice age, so the Aztecs had never seen horses and were frightened of them. Some Aztecs thought the horse and rider were one big anima. Riding a horse has speed advantages. The Aztecs did not know how to defend themselves from powerful technologies and fast horses. 5. Tribute system The Aztec army had 200,000 men. The Aztecs controlled a vast empire. The Empire heavily taxed its people. The people paid taxes in crops, gold, jade and cloth. The Aztecs had many enemies. The Aztec Empire forced other natives peoples to pay heavy taxes. Young people in neighboring tribes were captured and killed in the religious sacrifices. When Cortes arrived it was easy for him to recruit Aztec enemies to help him. The tribute was a strength for the Empire for its constant supply of goods and human blood, but its weakness was the hatred that cause that ended up being a cause of its defeat.

Henry Billings(2003). History of our World. People, Places and Ideas. Orlando. FL:Steck-Vaughn. Mexicolore Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire Fall of the Aztecs Global Studies: The Aztecs

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