Pre-Columbian Civilizations In 1519 one Hernan Cortez landed with some horses and a few hundred Spanish conquistadors, armed to the teeth with guns, cannons, and steel swords. Through a combination of terror tactics and shrewd alliances with the Aztecs' many enemies, he gained enough strength to march on Tenochtitlan. His forces were greeted in the city of 200,000 by Aztec leader Moctezuma II himself. A few days later, Cortez took Moctezuma prisoner in his own palace. The Aztecs were having none of this. They chose a new leader and drove the Spanish and their allies out of the city. Cortez, undeterred, gathered an army and went back to besiege Tenochtitlan, which was by this time weakened by a smallpox epidemic. A few short years later, nothing would remain of the Aztec Empire. .. except for the capital city, and the name of the future country, and a few of the festival days; and the canals, which were turned into boulevards, and the stones of the temples and palaces, which were recycled into. ..
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Mexico City, Hernán Cortés, Aztec leader Moctezuma