Conquest of Mexico


The conquest of Mexico or the conquest of the Aztec empire as it is also known was a historical process that happened between the years 1517 and 1521. A period that happened from the arrival of the first Spaniards to the coasts of the Mayan peoples until the fall of Tenochtitlan at the hands of Hernán Cortés and his indigenous allies . This conquest was responsible for allowing the expansion of Spanish dominions throughout Mesoamerica and the creation of new kingdoms and cities throughout the 16th century.

  • When was it:  From  02/01/1519 to 08/23/1521
  • Where was it: Mexico
  • Belligerents:  Spanish Empire, Aztec Empire
  • Commanders: Hernán Cortés , Moctezuma II

What is the conquest of Mexico?

The conquest of Mexico was the union of a series of historical events that made Hernán Cortés , in 1521, hand over the lands of Tenochtitlán to the crown of Spain , events that led to the conquest of the country by the Spanish.


Summary of the conquest of Mexico

The emperor of the Aztec Empire thought when he saw Cortés that this was the god they had been waiting for and for this reason he was very well received with gifts and entertainment. After several clashes between the Aztecs and the Spanish broke out in Tenochtitlán , Mexico City was founded.



The following dates and events were the antecedents of the conquest of Mexico:

  • 1492 – 1504 :  Christopher Columbus discovered the islands of the Caribbean , the coast of Venezuela and Central America .
  • 1507 : the first map of the ” New World ” was published, which had been prepared by Américo Vespucio .
  • 1511 : Diego de Velásquez began the conquest of Cuba together with his soldiers, among whom were Hernán Cortés , who received a commission from Indians in Santiago de Cuba and managed to become mayor of this city.
  • 1518 : the Gulf of Mexico was discovered by Juan de Grijalva and he became aware of the existence of the Aztec Empire .
  • 1518 : Diego de Velásquez put Hernán Cortés in command of the expedition to conquer Yucatán , but shortly thereafter he suspected that he was going to be betrayed, so he decides to revoke the position granted.
  • 1519 : Hernán Cortés did not follow Velásquez’s orders and accelerates his departure, leaving the Cuban shores on February 10, 1519.

Who led the conquest of Mexico

The conquest of Mexico began on March 14, 1519 , and was carried out by Hernán Cortés . An event that was consummated with the taking of Tenochtitlán in August 1521, which allowed the establishment of the Spanish colonial regime in Mexican lands.


The stages for the conquest of Mexico were the following:

  • First stage : in the first stage, the predominance and interests that Diego de Velásquez had in the Antilles are retaken , until Cortés decides not to follow his rules and for this reason he founds the city of Villa Rica in Veracruz.
  • Second stage : it occurs from the moment Hernán Cortez enters Mexican territory until the alliance with the Tlaxcalans is formed . In this stage there is the acculturation of the indigenous people by Europe .
  • Third stage : this stage occurs from the Spaniards entering Mexican territory specifically in Tenochtitlán , and when the reception is given by Montezuma until the famous ” sad night “
  • Fourth stage : the fourth stage occurs when Tenochtitlán falls.
  • Fifth stage : it happens when the rest of the republic is conquered.

Most important facts

Hernán Cortés arrived in Yucatán and defeated the Maya of Tabasco, founding their first city, Santa María de la Victoria . The chiefs gave him twenty slaves, and there he met Malintzin ” La Malinche “, who was his wife and translator. In Totonaca, he founded Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz where he was proclaimed Captain General, to obey the King , and not Diego de Velásquez.

The Totonacs , stopped paying tribute to Tenochtitlan , and joined the Spanish . On August 16, 1519, Hernán Cortés began the expedition to the interior of Mexico . He found support from the Tlaxcalans . When the emperor Moctezuma II realized ordered to attack the Spaniards, but Hernán Cortés arrived in Tenochtitlan imprisoning to Moctezuma . But Cortés had to leave the place and when he returned to Tenochtitlan there was a great rebellion of the Aztecs . The rebels, led by the new Huey Tlatoani Cuitláhuac , expelled the ChristiansJuly 1, 1520, in what was called ” La Noche Triste “.

Hernán Cortés initiated the siege of Tenochtitlán and there were three months of fighting in the waters and bridges of Lake Texcoco . In August the resistance of Cuauhtémoc was overcome by hunger, thirst and smallpox. On August 13, 1521 Cuauhtémoc was captured , which caused the definitive fall of Tenochtitlán in the hands of the Spanish.


The causes for the conquest of Mexico were the following:

  • The Aztec Empire was destroyed, making it easier to subject the peoples and the oppression of the Europeans to other cultures of Mesoamerica had a negative impact on the nomadic peoples and groups.
  • Struggles between cultures that ended up separating the tribes.
  • Unexpected alliances occurred between the Spanish and some indigenous peoples .
  • Strategies and weaponry
  • As a result of the conquest of various towns and cities, migration by Europeans and African slaves increased.


Some of the consequences of the conquest of Mexico were:

  • Alliances of the Spanish with enemy ethnic groups of the Mexica.
  • Destruction of the leadership and political structure of the Aztecs.
  • Creation of a political-administrative unit directed by Spain , which was made up of the king, the council of the Indies, the audience, viceroy, visitors, town halls.
  • A new base was created in the economy.
  • Established new routes of trade .
  • There was the introduction of new crops such as wheat, rice, sugar cane.
  • The conquerors decimated the indigenous populations .
  • A new race emerged known by the name of mestiza , which was the union of Indians with Spaniards.
  • The Spanish language was introduced as an official language.

Prominent figures

Some of the most prominent characters of the conquest were the following:Cuauhtémoc

  • Cuitláhuac
  • Diego Velázquez de Cuellar
  • Francisco Hernández de Córdoba
  • Hernan Cortes
  • Juan de Grijalva
  • Moctezuma Xocoyotzin
  • Pánfilo de Narváez
  • Pedro de Alvarado


For Spain it was very important because it was enriched with the gold that they found in the place and that helped them maintain the stability of the Catholic Church . Without the conquest, the mestizo race would not exist , the Portuguese would have invaded most of South America because there would have been no Spaniards to defend the place and England and France would not have fought for colonization.

Phrases about the conquest of Mexico

Some of the most recognized phrases that were pronounced during the conquest of Mexico were the following:

  • «It is better to die with honor than to live in disgrace « (Hernán Cortés)
  • ” Success is achieved by turning each step into a goal and each goal into a step” (Hernán Cortés)
  • «Take that dagger that you have on your belt and kill me» , to Doña Marina. (Cuatémoc)

Books about the conquest of Mexico

Some books that have been written telling the history and facts of the conquest of Mexico are:

  • The Conquest of Mexico (Hugh Thomas).
  • Hernán Cortés, Letters of the conquest of Mexico.
  • The Conquest of Mexico (Charles M. Robinson III).
  • Tlaxcala, in the conquest of Mexico (Lucina Toulet Abasolo).
  • The Conquest of Mexico (Francisco López de Gómara).

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