Upon arriving in Mexico in February of 1519, in what is now the state of Veracruz, Hernán Cortés burned his ships. As a result, his men were well motivated to conquer the land; there could now be no leaving without a victory. The fact that Cortés and his few hundred Spanish companions were not immediately wiped out by the vastly more numerous Aztecs is one of the more incredible parts of this story.
Cortés quickly went about making allies of the Aztec's rivals, primarily the Toltecs and the Tlaxcalans. Cortés was very shrewd at recognizing that the Aztecs had many enemies that he could rally to his side. In doing so, he greatly increased the size of his own forces and learned about the Aztec's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the lay of the land.
Furthermore, when King Moctezuma's ambassadors met up with Cortés, the Spaniard was mistaken for the god Quetzalcoatl. It had been prophesied that Quetzalcoatl would arrive that exact year, and the coincidence was too much for...
(The entire section contains 3 answers and 741 words.)