Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital city, was one of the largest cities in the world at the time of the Spanish Conquest in 1521, with possibly 200,000 inhabitants. It grew from a small settlement on an island in the western swamps of Lake Texcoco to the powerful political, economic, and religious center of Pre-columbian Mexico’s greatest empire in less than 200 years. But did you know what happened during the Battle of Tenochtitlan?
Thousands of native allies who resented the Aztecs joined the Conquistadors during the Fall of Tenochtitlan. Cortes’s army besieged the capital for 93 days and their victory destroyed the Aztec empire enabling Spain to conquer the city.
What Happened When the Conquistadores Arrived at Tenochtitlan?
The Aztecs ruled over a vast territory with 400 to 500 subjugated states at the start of the 16th century. They gave a tlatoani, or ruler, absolute power. At its peak, the empire was ruled by the tlatoani Montezuma II, but his empire’s cross-cultural expanse was also its weakness.
Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador or an explorer-conqueror, landed an expeditionary force of 500 soldiers and 100 sailors at Potonchan. This was located on the Yucatán Peninsula of what is now Mexico, in 1519.
Spain had previously sent expeditionary forces to explore the region, but they had no idea how vast the Aztec empire was. After a three-month siege, the Spanish forces led by Hernán Cortés capture Tenochtitlan, the Aztec empire’s capital. Cortés’ men destroyed the city and captured the Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc. (Source: Brittanica)
Where is Tenochtitlan Located?
The city of Tenochtitlan was built on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco in southern Mexico. Because no one else wanted the land, the Aztecs were able to settle there. It wasn’t a great place to start a city at first, but the Aztecs soon built up islands where they could grow crops. The water also served as a natural defense against other cities’ attacks.
Tenochtitlan was a large city that spanned approximately 5 square miles. According to some historians, the city had a population of nearly 200,000 people at its peak. (Source: Brittanica)
What Influenced the Aztecs to Settle in a Swampy Island?
The Culhuacan drove the Aztecs from their valley home, they needed a new place to stay. The priests claimed to have received a divine sign leading them to Tenochtitlan. The Aztecs should settle where they saw an eagle standing on a cactus holding a snake. They came across this sign on a marshy island in the lake and decided to build a new town there. (Source: Brittanica)
Is Tenochtitlan city Still Standing?
The Spanish and Hernan Cortes destroyed the majority of Tenochtitlan’s buildings. Mexico City, the country’s capital, is located in the same area. The ruins of Tenochtitlan have been discovered near the center of Mexico City by archeologists. (Source: Brittanica)