When the Spanish and their native allies were finally successful in breaching the city’s walls, they did not hold back their brutality. They took the Aztecs down one block at a time, murdering without discrimination and pillaging all they could get their hands on. Temples were leveled along with residential buildings.
The Aztecs had lost faith in Montezuma, their food supply was running low, and an outbreak of smallpox had begun among them. More than three million Aztecs perished as a result of the smallpox epidemic; with such a severely depleted population, it was very simple for the Spanish to conquer Tenochtitlán.
The Aztecs suffered from the effects of smallpox in more ways than one. To begin, it directly caused the death of a significant number of its victims, mainly newborns and young children.
The fragile nature of the Aztec Empire, the strategic advantages offered by Spanish technology, and the presence of smallpox all contributed to Cortez and his expedition’s successful fall of the Aztec Empire.
|Fall of Tenochtitlan|
|Casualties and losses|
|450–860 Spanish 20,000 Tlaxcaltecs||100,000 killed in action 300 war canoes sunk At least 40,000 Aztecs civilians killed and captured, other sources claim 100,000 to 240,000 were killed in the campaign overall including warriors and civilians|
After the fall of the Aztec empire, the beautiful art that had been kept in its temples was turned into currency and the buildings themselves were defiled or destroyed. The common people suffered from the illnesses brought by the Europeans, which killed out up to fifty percent of the population, and their new masters turned out to be no better than the Aztecs had been.
At that time, it is thought that the Spanish had accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of eight thousand pounds of gold and silver, in addition to a substantial amount of feathers, cotton, gems, and other items.
Only a little amount of meat was consumed on a daily basis; the Aztec diet was predominantly vegetarian, with the exception of grasshoppers, maguey worms, ants, and other types of larvae.
Nahua is the name that has come to be used for the Aztecs’ descendants in modern times. More than one and a half million Nahua people make their life in tiny settlements that are spread out throughout wide swaths of rural Mexico. These people make their living mostly by farming and sometimes by selling handicrafts.
By the 1500s, they had not only survived, but even triumphed over their adversaries, and they were making every effort to ensure that they would not be forced to regress. They conquered their neighbors, at first the various ethnic groups that lived in the central core of Mexico, and subsequently far further away, by employing both their intelligence and their physical might.
The peoples who had been subjugated by the Aztecs disliked the Aztecs for demanding payment and victims for their religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military managed to keep any uprisings under control. Hernán Cortés, a young nobleman who was born in Spain, traveled to the island of Hispaniola in the West Indies in the year 1504.
An anthropologist from New York has proposed that the Aztecs didn’t just sacrifice humans atop their holy pyramids for religious reasons; rather, they did so because they were forced to consume people in order to achieve the necessary amount of protein in their diet.
Due to the fair skin and black hair of the Spanish, the Aztecs at first believed that these people were gods. In order to honor these occasions, the Aztecs would present the Spanish with gold and other presents. When the Spanish saw all of these riches, they knew they needed more, but they also knew that the Aztecs outnumbered them.
What kind of treatment did the Spanish have in store for the natives? They forced them into slavery and stole their food.