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"I observe the strange customs and rituals of the Aztec people. They are happy to provide me with religious drawings and to share their legends, despite the complexity of translation."
―Giovanni Borgia, 1520.[src]-[m]

The Aztec Empire was an alliance of three Nahua city-states, Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan which ruled from the Valley of Mexico in Central America during the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 1519, Emperor Moctezuma II established contact with the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his contingent of soldiers. In the events that ensued throughout the next two years, the Aztec Empire was finally defeated by a force of around 1,500 Spanish soldiers supported by hundreds of thousands of indigenous followers, who laid a decisive siege upon the capital of Tenochtitlan in 1520.


Giovanni Borgia with the Aztecs

In 1520, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés led a group of explorers to Mexico, among them an undercover Assassin, Giovanni Borgia. Upon their arrival in Mexico, they made contact with several Nahua and Maya groups and acquired translators in order to facilitate communication with the regions' various societies including the Nahuatl-speaking populace of the Aztec Empire.[1]

Emperor Moctezuma II allowed for the Spanish expedition to be brought to the capital city of the Aztec realm, Tenochtitlan, where he greeted them warmly and allowed the soldiers accommodations within his own palace. Whether this was out of the belief that they were gods or to learn their weaknesses was questioned by many of the Spaniards.[1]

Night of Sorrows

Main article: Night of Sorrows

As the Aztec people celebrated the arrival of their "gods" through the Festival of Toxcatl, many of the Aztec nobles present were adorned with fine gold and jewelry. While the Spanish became envious over the vast swathes of wealth before them, Giovanni searched for one of the Pieces of Eden, which he knew was somewhere in the city.[1]

The Spanish, including Giovanni, were eventually led to the Main Temple, where they witnessed the Aztec clergy sacrificing one of their own as a tribute to the gods. During the ritual, Giovanni noticed a priest holding a Crystal Skull, and he immediately recognized it as the Piece of Eden he had been looking for; he quietly assassinated the priest and took the skull.[1]

Moctezuma speaking to his people

Upon witnessing the display of human sacrifice, the Spaniards – either out of disgust or the opportunity to strike – began to massacre the unarmed citizens of Tenochtitlan, though they were eventually driven back into Moctezuma's palace. They then forced the hostage Moctezuma II to speak to his people, during which he urged them to return to order. However, his people refused to listen, and proceeded to stone their Emperor to death.[1]

Shortly after, the Spaniards attempted to sneak out of the city by the cover of night, but were engaged by Aztec forces during their escape. Although the ensuing battle killed many of the Spanish soldiers (many of whom drowned from being weighed down by huge sums of gold), some of them managed to flee the Aztec realm, wherein a few returned to Europe.[1]

In the early 18th century, french pirate Alonzo Batilla recovered several treasures of Aztec of Hernán Cortés.[2]



Animuslogowhite.svg An image gallery is available for Aztecs