What enabled the Spanish to defeat the Aztecs?
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The two largest contributing factors were Cortes' ability to make alliances with the outlying tribes that were enemies of the aztecs and disease.
The Aztecs' practice of ritual sacrifices had not exactly endeared them to their neighbors, since many times the Aztecs would raid their neighbors for sacrifice victims or demand them as tribute. When Cortez opposed the Aztecs, he found many tribes, like the city state Tlaxcala, willing to contribute both supplies and warriors due to their hatred of the Aztecs.
Disease is probably the largest contributing factor in the Spaniard's success in defeating the Aztecs. One of Cortes' men was infected with small pox, and the native Aztec population had absolutely no resistance or any sort of immunity built up to the deadly virus. The virus decimated the population, wiping out at least a quarter of all the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, including the emperor, which of course disrupted the chain of command.
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