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The Aztec empire was of vast size and population (millions) that benefited from a central control. This made possible the massing of armies in numbers of thousands and of a system of communication, which made regional resistance possible. Cortes found that his conquest of Mexico would not be as relatively simple as his colleagues’ of the Incas. The process of gradual trade, leading to the killing of the leadership was not possible in Mexico. Structurally, it was the religious beliefs of the Aztecs that gave Cortes and his forces the opportunities necessary for conquest.
Aztec Empire Conquest
But, that conquest was not easy, as towns goaded each other into resistance. Armed with inferior weapons and armor, the much larger Aztec forces fell more often than not to the Spanish steel and cannon fire. There were many towns too, that had suffered greatly under the totalitarian rule of Montezuma that were more than willing to lay down their arms to the Spanish without resistance. However, force was not Cortes’ only weapon in his conquest, he used political and religious manipulation to its fullest extent.
The religion of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and South American played a key role in their being conquered by the Spaniard, Cortes. The peoples under the rule of Montezuma held very strong beliefs about the source of their creation, and the Gods which controlled them, their lands, and their lives. This is the very thing that lead to their downfall: Their strong attachment to their Gods. The appearance of the Spaniards, with the following, created the belief that the Gods of the Aztec belief system had arrived on their shores:
- Light skin
- Odd dress
Though the exposure of the Aztecs to the illnesses carried by the Spaniards had an effect as well, it was the open acceptance of the arrival of Cortes and his men by Montezuma which allowed for such a complete and total conquest of the Aztec nation.