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Forum LockedSiege of Tenochtitlan

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    Posted: 30-Aug-2005 at 12:11


I hope this artcicle may end the general believe that a handful of spaniards were the backbone that conquered to the Aztec Empire.



The siege of Tenochtitlan was the final, decisive battle that led to the downfall of the Aztec civilization and marked the beginning of Spanish colonization of what is now Mexico.

Hernán Cortés landed on the coast of Mexico in 1519 with 550 men and 16 horses, after hearing rumor of a great empire somewhere to the far west of his base in Cuba. He soon came into contact with a number of tribes who resented the Aztec rule; Cortés skirmished with some of these natives, defeating them easily and earning an alliance with them against the Aztecs. In particular, his horses, firearms and iron armor made Cortés and the Spaniards seem otherworldly enough to be mistaken for the god Quetzalcoatl, who was prophesied to return. When Cortés was informed by the Tlaxcalans of an ambush by the Aztec emperor Moctezuma, and was thus able to avoid it, this solidified the emperor's belief that Cortés was a god. Cortés entered the city of Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519.

Hearing that some Spaniards at Vera Cruz (his landing point) were killed by Aztecs, Cortés seized Moctezuma and began to rule the Aztecs with Moctezuma as a puppet ruler. Since the people had no other ruler but Moctezuma, there was little rebellion or dissent until Cortés outlawed the native religion and tried to impose Christianity upon the Aztecs. At the same time, Cortés learned of another Spanish landing force, under Pánfilo de Narváez, and gained their allegiance with promises of the vast wealth of Tenochtitlan. He then led a small contingent of men to battle Narváez, and assimilated Narváez' army into his own force.


Early Events
Cortés left Pedro de Alvarado in command of Tenochtitlan when he left to fight Narváez. At this time, the Mexica began an Aztec ceremony, and Alvarado mistook it for a violent uprising. He hurriedly ordered an attack on the dancing natives which would be known as The Massacre in the Main Temple, and as the Spanish attacked, the Aztec warriors came. The attack incited a revolt and, outnumbered, Alvarado and the Spanish were soon overwhelmed and lost the control of the city. Cortés returned with his 1100 Spanish soldiers to aid in the battle, but his forces were pushed into the palace. Cortés freed Cuitláhuac, hoping it would end the revolt, but as soon as Cuitláhuac was released, he was elected Emperor. Then the natives began to surround the palace, and Moctezuma was sent to order his people to cease fighting. He was later killed as a result (whether or not he did as the Spanish ordered him to is uncertain). Cuitláhuac set out organize a determined resistance, on June 1520, as the Aztecs began to attack Cortés' men, launching arrows and javelins; cannon and arquebus killed many of the attacking Aztecs, but their numbers were so overwhelming they could not be stopped from breaking through the palace walls. The city was laced with canals, and the Aztecs had far superior numbers, as well as control of the bridges over the canals, so attempts on the Spaniards' part to fight back were hopeless. Every Spaniard not killed was wounded.

On either the night of July 1, 10 or 30, 1520 the Spaniards attempted to sneak out of the city with as much treasure as possible, but were cited and the Mexica stormed the fleaing soldiers. The battle would be known as the "La Noche Triste" (The Sad Night). By the end of it, 869 Spaniards lay dead and some 1,200-2,000 Tlaxcalan allies with them, only 20 horses survived (all wounded). Though they were now removed from the city, a small force waited for them near the area of Otumba.


More Spanish came to replenish the depleted resources of the defeated soldiers, bringing 200 more men, 80 horses, ammunition and guns, they had also built 13 brigantines for a naval assault on the capital. Although the Spanish would have been easily destroyed had Cuitláhuac ordered a pursuit, he desired a proper battle (despite the fact he had only a small portion of the Aztec military in fighting condition). He set in motion the campaign to defend the empire in a succession of massive battles all across the mexico basin.


Battle Of Tecuba
In March of 1521 Cortes assembled his forces, under Spanish command were around 80,000 men (less than 600 of them were Spaniards and only 40 were cavalry), the plan being to gain control of communities near Tenochtitlan as a springboard for the final attack. As they reached the city of Tecuba, he was met with a massive army, led by the new Emperor Cuauhtemoc (Cuitláhuac died of smallpox only about 40 days into his rule). Though bloody, and long, Cuauhtemoc managed to defeat the Spanish and halt the march to the capital in a brilliant land and naval attack. This one battle significantly pushed back the Spanish-Native confederacy and they subsequently lost control of the area. Though a major defeat, the battle would serve a major strategic gain for them. Cortes was able to cut off the water supply to Tenochtitlan from Chapultepec, which would later ravage the city and lead to an earlier defeat in the siege. Another important note of the battle was that the Mexica had grown accustomed to the Spanish tactics, and had in this battle used their knowledge to large effect, which would make the factor of guns nearly obsolete (though many of these guns were out of date and clumsy in the close-comabat situation the Spanish found themselves in).


The Siege
By the time Cortes arrived at the shores of Tenochtitlan, the population of the city was ravaged by smallpox, which had been brought by a deserted spanish slave in the capital during La Noche Triste. Those who were not dead or infected were starving from the blockade. Mexica resistance was almost entirely wiped out at this point from contracting diseases at battles. Others were either wounded, exhausted (there had been a drought across the valley for about 2 years at this point) or merely felt resistance would be most effective at other areas as an insurgency (such as the Mixtec and Zapotec wars). The central military force could no longer attack the strategically situated Spanish forces, and so outside resistance was quite ineffective.

This time, Cortés used a complex strategy to siege the city. He divided his force into four groups, the first three attacking towns around the shore and securing the causeways leading out of the city. The fourth group, led by Cortés, consisted of the thirteen brigantines, which he sailed on the lake and used to eliminate any effective Aztec canoe counter attack. After some initial quarelling amongst his commanders, and the defection of one Tlaxcalan leader, Cortés was ready to attack.

By the end of May, the acqueduct providing water to the city was destroyed, as was the canoe fleet. However, gaps created in the causeways made invasion on foot all but impossible. One of the brigantines fired into the city, and served to transport soldiers who enjoyed some early successes but were driven back by the overwhelming numbers of Aztecs.

The battle went on for ten weeks, the Aztecs sacrificing Spanish prisoners atop the pyramid in the center of the city. The Spaniards slowly, gradually made their way into the city, smallpox and the lack of fresh water and food eventually taking their toll upon the Aztecs. On 13 August, Cortés finally entered the now-empty city once again, officially conquering it.


Conflict: Spanish conquest of Mexico
Date: May 26 - August 13, 1521
Place: Tenochtitlan, present-day Mexico City, Mexico
Outcome: Decisive Spanish victory
Combatants
Spain Aztec Empire
Commanders
Hernán Cortés Cuauhtemoc
Strength
86 cavalry
900 infantry
80,000-200,000 Tlaxcalan and Texcoco warriors 150,000-300,000
Casualties
20,000 native dead 100,000 dead

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2005 at 14:37

Interesting article--did you write it?

Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Another important note of the battle was that the Mexica had grown accustomed to the Spanish tactics, and had in this battle used their knowledge to large effect, which would make the factor of guns nearly obsolete (though many of these guns were out of date and clumsy in the close-comabat situation the Spanish found themselves in).

The Spanish probably did not have any men to spare to clear and level a path for the cannon to be dragged along.  Plus, even if they did manage to get the artillery through the jungle the damp tropical climate would render primitive firearms useless.

I cannot remember which explorer it was, but apparently some of his men tried to build a homemade trebuchet when they ran out of powder and shot for their cannon.  These soldiers recalled using trebuchets some during the Reconquista and tried to construct one based on what they remembered.  As the story goes, they couldn't calibrate it right and it tossed the stone straight up in the air and back down onto the weapon!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2005 at 16:50
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Interesting article--did you write it?


Originally posted by Jalisco Lancer

Another important note of the battle was that the Mexica had grown accustomed to the Spanish tactics, and had in this battle used their knowledge to large effect, which would make the factor of guns nearly obsolete (though many of these guns were out of date and clumsy in the close-comabat situation the Spanish found themselves in).


The Spanish probably did not have any men to spare to clear and level a path for the cannon to be dragged along.  Plus, even if they did manage to get the artillery through the jungle the damp tropical climate would render primitive firearms useless.


I cannot remember which explorer it was, but apparently some of his men tried to build a homemade trebuchet when they ran out of powder and shot for their cannon.  These soldiers recalled using trebuchets some during the Reconquista and tried to construct one based on what they remembered.  As the story goes, they couldn't calibrate it right and it tossed the stone straight up in the air and back down onto the weapon!



No my friend, I took it from Wikipedia. Seems I skipped to quote the source.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote jason askew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jan-2006 at 20:40
Dear Sir,
I was most interested to read your article.I am
considering producing a series of paintings
depicting the siege of tenochtitlan,and I need visual
information on the following-the causeways,were
they constructed at water level,or were they bridges
above water level?-were the ordinary houses in the
city flat roofed or thatch roofed?-what materials did
the spanish and their allies use to fill the water filled
gaps and canals,wood,debris from houses,what?
many thanks for your assistance.
yours sincerely,
jason Askew
historical artist
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2006 at 08:12

The causeway

Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2006 at 08:21
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2006 at 08:24
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2006 at 08:25
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ITZOCELOTL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jan-2006 at 23:16

Why do people refer to the Mexicans( Mexicatl) as Aztecs? We were called aztecs when we lived in Aztlan- "land of the cranes". Then the god  Huitzilopochtli told the prophet/priest named  Huitzilopochtli Mexicatl to tell the aztecs to leave Aztlan and go south and find the eagle on the cactus eating a snake. They would also have to change their names to the Mexicans( Mexicatl). If I am mistaken please give me some feed back.

thank you for all the information xalisco, I am studying film making and I am planning on making 2 films about Mexico. One will focus on ancient and "medieval" Mexico, and the other will focus on the conquest. Also has anyone heard of the    Nahuatl University of Cuernavaca?

tlazohcamati My mexican brotha!

and Mexicatl tiahui!



Edited by ITZOCELOTL
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jan-2006 at 08:19
IIRC all Nahuatl speaking peoples were originally called Aztecs (including ao the Tlaxcaltecs and Tepanecs). It was Wilhelm von Humboldt (around 1800) who first started to use Aztecs for the Mexicah, the people we nowadays call Aztecs.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ITZOCELOTL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jan-2006 at 16:23
Thats stupid because we are called Mexicans( Mexicatl) thats why are country is called Mexico not Azteco or somthing like that. We arent called Aztecans.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ITZOCELOTL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jan-2006 at 16:29
How did the Mexicatl archers look? what kind of armor or gear did they have and wear? how did they live and train? Were they respected among the army unlike the archers of europe? Did they prove effective during the war against the Spanish?

Edited by ITZOCELOTL
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ITZOCELOTL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jan-2006 at 17:52

Has anyone seen the movie called "The other conquest"? it takes place in Mexico after the fall of Mexico and the film is all in Nahuatl and spanish. I rented it from a video store in california 3 years ago and I knew what it was and what it was about but not so much because I didnt know so much about Mexico back then. I think it was good especially because it was the first time for me hearing Nahuatl. Now I live in Georgia and I cant find it anywhere! does anyone know a website or a place that sells it? There is another film called    In Necuepaniztli In Aztlan-" the return to Aztlan" and again I cant find this film anywhere. Jalisco you live in Mexico have you ever seen or heard of these films? because they were shot in Mexico.

Here are some pics of the film

www.theotherconquest.com

 

.



Edited by ITZOCELOTL
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Jan-2006 at 04:09
Yes, I saw that film back in 1998.
It was a good one.
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