What three things helped Spain defeat the Aztecs?

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In the early sixteenth century, the mighty Aztec empire in the New World was defeated by a relatively small amount of Spanish soldiers. There are several reasons for the Spanish victory. We'll list these, and then you can select the three that you think are most important.

First of all,...

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In the early sixteenth century, the mighty Aztec empire in the New World was defeated by a relatively small amount of Spanish soldiers. There are several reasons for the Spanish victory. We'll list these, and then you can select the three that you think are most important.

First of all, the Spanish possessed far superior weaponry and battle tactics. The Aztecs relied on cotton pads for armor, reed or wooden shields, clubs, spear throwers, and traditional bows and arrows. Aztec officers wore elaborate costumes signifying rank, which made them easy to target. Their warriors advanced in a loose formation and considered warfare a ritual undertaking. The aim was to capture prisoners for subsequent sacrifice. On the other hand, the Spanish had crossbows, pikes, steel swords, guns, cannons, and metal armor. The Spanish cavalry decimated the Aztec ranks, and the Aztecs were unprepared for the way that the Spanish brutally slaughtered their opponents.

Aztec customs and religion helped to bring about their own downfall. When Hernan Cortes first advanced upon Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capitol, he was greeted warmly and treated with respect. This was likely due to a combination of factors. It was Aztec custom to treat guests with honor, and it was a tactic designed to placate a potential enemy. Additionally, it's possible that some Aztecs believed that Cortes was the return of the god Quetzalcoatl.

Another factor in the defeat of the Aztecs was the ruthlessness and treachery of the Spanish. The Aztecs were used to following certain rules of diplomacy and warfare. The Spanish, however, had no such scruples. Soon after the Aztec monarch cordially welcomed the Spanish, the Spanish turned on him and took him hostage. This was a pattern of duplicity that the Spanish in the New World would often follow when it suited their purposes.

The Spanish also allied themselves with disgruntled subjects and enemies of the Aztecs. The Tlaxcalans and other subjugated communities, with Spanish help, rose up against their Aztec oppressors, who had demanded heavy tribute and also regularly took sacrificial victims from among the populace.

Finally, the Spanish overcame the Aztecs by bringing Old World diseases such as smallpox, measles, and mumps to which the Aztecs had no immunity. These diseases wiped out up to half of the total Aztec population.

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The Spanish colonizers defeated the Aztec Empire through more advanced weaponry, the introduction of European diseases, and creating alliances with smaller indigenous tribes in the region who had been resentfully living under the forced rule of the Aztec Empire.

The Spanish conquistadors were able to overpower the Aztec Empire through their more advanced weaponry, which created a massive advantage. Additionally, when the Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire, they brought with them several diseases, such as smallpox, tuberculosis, and influenza, that had not been previously introduced to the immune systems of the indigenous people of the South and North American continents. The result was devastating and resulted in the deaths of approximately 90% of the continents' indigenous populations. This monumental tragedy led to a general weakened ability to resist Spanish colonization. Lastly, several tribes, such as the Tlascalans, had been fighting against the Aztec Empire's regional dominance. This instability within the empire allowed Cortés and his men to band with the aggrieved tribes to further Spanish victory over the Aztec Empire.

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The three things that allowed the Spanish to defeat the Aztec were horses, gunpowder, and disease.   Before the Spanish came to the New World, Native Americans did not have access to horses.  Horses had long been used in war in Europe.  The horse gave the owner a higher vantage point and a clear advantage in chasing down a retreating enemy.  When combined with the lance, the mounted warrior had an advantage over the foot soldier with the club.  The Aztecs were also not sure what to think about the Spaniard's horses, so there was a shock value as well.  

Gunpowder technology helped to reduce Aztec fortifications to rubble.  The first guns and cannons were slow to load and somewhat unreliable. However, they made a loud noise and produced smoke which could confuse an enemy not used to them.  While Aztec weapons could be loaded faster, their bows and obsidian knives were no match for Spanish armor.  Just as in the case of the horse, gunpowder technology had a shock value which weakened the morale of the more numerous Aztecs.  

The final factor in the Aztecs' defeat was disease.  This factor was not introduced purposefully by the Spanish. However, smallpox and diphtheria ravaged native populations all over the continent.  The fact that the prayers of native holy men did not cure the disease also helped weaken Aztec society.  Disease allowed a handful of Spanish to defeat an empire which had existed for hundreds of years.   

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Three things which helped Spain defeat the Aztecs were disease, superior weaponry, and the Aztec religion. First, Europeans unknowingly transmitted the smallpox virus to the Native Americans, who had no immunity for the disease. Smallpox killed hundreds of thousands of the Native Americans, which weakened the Aztec Empire and created political and social instability.

Second, Hernan Cortes and his men had superior weaponry. The Spanish had steel weapons, cannons, and horses; these advantages helped them defeat the much larger Aztec army.

Third, the Aztec religion allowed Cortes to infiltrate the Aztec government. The Aztec emperor Moctezuma (sometimes spelled Montezuma) believed Cortes was the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl (or had at least been sent by him). Thus he welcomed the Spanish rather than greeting them with hostility. Once inside Tenochtitlan (the Aztec capital), Cortes took Moctezuma prisoner and used him as a puppet ruler.

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