Invaders led by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés overthrew the Aztec Empire by force and captured Tenochtitlan in 1521, bringing an end to Mesoamerica’s last great native civilization.
What are some bad things about the Aztec?
Today the descendants of the Aztecs are referred to as the Nahua. More than one-and-a-half million Nahua live in small communities dotted across large areas of rural Mexico, earning a living as farmers and sometimes selling craft work. Most Nahua worship in the local church and take part in church festivities.
Disease. When the Spanish arrived, they brought with them smallpox. Smallpox spread among the indigenous people and crippled their ability to resist the Spanish. The disease devastated the Aztec people, greatly reducing their population and killing an estimated half of Tenochtitlán’s inhabitants.
How Hernán Cortés Conquered the Aztec Empire. Tenochtitlán, the capital city of the Aztec Empire, flourished between A.D. 1325 and 1521—but was defeated less than two years after the arrival of Spanish invaders led by Cortés.
When used to describe ethnic groups, the term “Aztec” refers to several Nahuatl-speaking peoples of central Mexico in the postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology, especially the Mexica, the ethnic group that had a leading role in establishing the hegemonic empire based at Tenochtitlan.
Victims had their hearts cut out or were decapitated, shot full of arrows, clawed, sliced, stoned, crushed, skinned, buried alive or tossed from the tops of temples. Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled.
In 1521, Hernán Cortés, along with an allied army of other Native Americans, conquered the Aztecs through germ warfare (germ theory not being established until 1560 by earliest records, this was an unintentional result of Europeans coming to the New World), siege warfare, psychological warfare, and from direct combat.
Cortes wanted to conquer the aztecs for gold glory and god. Because of these things, many people in the Aztec Empire were unhappy. Some of them helped the Spanish conquistadors take over the Empire.
The disease became known as Cocoliztli by the native Aztecs, and had devastating effects on the area’s demography, particularly for the indigenous people. Based on the death toll, this outbreak is often referred to as the worst disease epidemic in the history of Mexico.
Within five years as many as 15 million people – an estimated 80% of the population – were wiped out in an epidemic the locals named “cocoliztli”. The word means pestilence in the Aztec Nahuatl language.
But most people in Mexico or of Mexican descent these days are not indigenous but rather mestizo, meaning they have a mixture of indigenous, European, and African ancestry.
The Nahuas, who are the descendants of the Aztecs, continue to be the largest Indigenous group in Mexico, but there are many others in Mesoamerica, such as the Hñahñu, the Mixtec and the Maya.
While the Aztecs ruled, they farmed large areas of land. Staples of their diet were maize, beans and squash. To these, they added chilies and tomatoes. They also harvested Acocils, an abundant crayfish-like creature found in Lake Texcoco, as well as Spirulina algae which they made into cakes.