What is your response to Chapter 1, First Encounters: The Confrontation Between Cortes and Montezuma (1519-1521)?
Montezuma and the Aztecs never had a chance. Montezuma thought that the Spanish were a prophecy come to reality, that is they thought that Cortes was god. The Spanish were there for one thing, gold. Cortes was quoted as saying "Spaniards suffer from a disease that only gold can cure". That quote says it all.
Because the Aztecs thought of Cortes as a god, they allowed the strangers in their land many liberties. Cortes used this to his advantage. The Spaninsh had the better technology.
The Spanish conquered the Aztecs gained incredible wealth from this conquest and enslaved the natives and built a huge empire in the new world.
Initially the confrontation can only be compared to the meeting of humans with an alien life form -- each seeing the other as other worldly. The advantages were all on Cortes' side. Moctezuma was the reigning ruler of a warlike land that no longer had anyone who really threatened them. In that there is almost an allusion to the end of the cold War in our epoch and the emergence of the United States as the only Super Power.
Additionally there was the Quetzacoatl effect: the Aztecas were expecting someone who resembled Cortes at least superficially.
Finally there the motive argument, Moctezuma could not afford to lose face to this small contingent of strangers, his whole world was watching. He must remain imperial and imperturbable. Yet Cortes had destroyed his own ships and made it clear to his men that for him it was "todo o nada!"