Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec and Aztec god; the plumed serpent, god of the wind, learning and the priesthood, master of life, creator and civiliser, patron of every art and inventor of metallurgy, in the Codex Borbonicus. In this speech, if it ever happened, Motecuhzoma used a form of Aztec politeness that was mistaken by the Spanish for a form of submission. Mexico - Mexico - The rise of the Aztecs: The word Azteca is derived from Aztlán (variously translated as “White Land,” “Land of White Herons,” or “Place of Herons”), where, according to Aztec tradition, their people originated, somewhere in the northwestern region of Mexico. The Chilam Balam, a book by Jaguar priests in the Yucatan, speaks of the coming of a white bearded man who is believed to bear the sign of the Almighty God. He was the only son of noble, though not wealthy, parents. Nosotros y nuestros socios almacenaremos y/o accederemos a la información de tu dispositivo mediante el uso de cookies y tecnologías similares, a fin de mostrar anuncios y contenido personalizados, evaluar anuncios y contenido, obtener datos sobre la audiencia y desarrollar el producto. (Part II) The story of the war between the Aztec (Mexica) empire and the Spanish conquistadors is one of the most dramatic in world history. The Aztecs had inferior weapons, so subduing them was not a huge problem for Cortés. His appearance and personality was After his arrival on Hispaniola in 1504 and subsequent participation in the conquest of the island of Cuba, Cortés made a name for himself as a bold and enterprising leader. But when Hernán Cortés sailed from Spain to Mexico in 1519, he began an entirely new kind of encounter in human history. The Aztecs considered the Tollan leader the ideal king; more details are found in the legend of the Toltecs. These two empires came face to face in 1428 CE with the Tepanec War. One possible theory for the origin of this story is that the Spanish misinterpreted the welcoming speech pronounced by the Aztec king. Their empire was composed of bustling cities that were larger, cleaner, and more architecturally sophisticated than most cities in … Almost certainly not. It is thought that Cortés’ arrival coincided with an Aztec prophecy about a white-skinned god arriving from the east, which would explain why Montezuma welcomed Cortés and gave him lavish gifts. Para permitir a Verizon Media y a nuestros socios procesar tus datos personales, selecciona 'Acepto' o selecciona 'Gestionar ajustes' para obtener más información y para gestionar tus opciones, entre ellas, oponerte a que los socios procesen tus datos personales para sus propios intereses legítimos. He had the printing press, indicative of a relatively rapid global communications system. This man was a heroic figure, probably a king and/or a priest, who left his home in the Toltec capital of Tula chased out by traitorous priests, but promising to return. According to the Aztec Legend of the Suns, Quetzalcoatl ruled over the second Sun of Aztec creation. Episode #10- Did the Aztecs Think Cortés Was A God? Following victor… Cortés decided to take the city and with Malinche’s aide, persuaded Motecuhzoma to become his prisoner. Extant temples dedicated to the cult of Quetzalcoatl have been identified at many Mesoamerican sites, such as Xochicalco, Teotihuacan, Cholula, Cempoala, Tula, Mayapan, and Chichen Itza. Motecuhzoma did not resist Cortés and thought that he might have been an incarnation of the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl. Did the Aztec empire actually view the conquistador, Hernan Cortes, as their god Quetzalcoatl? They sent him food with blood in it, if cortes ate it he would be a god because he eats blood. (Part I) Before the Spanish arrived in the early 1500’s, the Aztec, or Mexica, people had built an impressive civilization. Throughout human history, the vast majority of human interactions occurred between neighbors, relatives, or people that had at least some things in common, such as worshipping the same God. Except no one, not even the Spanish, initially suggested there was any case of mistaken identity. Most interestingly, according to Smith (2013), some scholars attribute the origin of the Cortés myth to the Nahua nobility themselves, who invented it and told it to the Spanish to explain why Motecuhzoma hesitated to attack the conquering forces. The Aztecs did not believe in Cortez's men being gods at all, though at first some of them, not having seen horses before, thought the horse and its rider were one being. That the Conquistadors were in search of personal wealth is undeniable. By around 1400 CE several small empires had formed in the Valley of Mexico and dominant amongst these were Texcoco, capital of the Acholhua region, and Azcapotzalco, capital of the Tepenec. A persistent myth about the conquistador Hernan Cortés being mistaken for Quetzalcoatl is almost certainly false. If Montezuma believed that he was the 'God' he would have rode out to meet him or welcomed him with aid to the capitol. Turned out they were right; as bad as the Spanish were, they weren't as bad as the Aztecs had been. Información sobre tu dispositivo y conexión a Internet, incluida tu dirección IP, Actividad de navegación y búsqueda al utilizar sitios web y aplicaciones de Verizon Media. The story is that the last emperor Motecuhzoma (sometimes spelled Montezuma or Moctezuma) mistook Cortés for the returning god, based on the supposed resemblance between the Spanish conquistador and the god. Human sacrifice was an integral part of the Aztec religion—as it was for many other societies in the New World, including the Maya. 3. Among the Classic Maya, the figure of a feathered serpent is illustrated in many stone monuments and murals and is often related to the worship of royal ancestors. The Aztecs are also known as Mexica or Tenochca. Whether by shear luck or by providence, the time of Cortés’ arrival coincided with the prophesied return of the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. Quetzalcoatl the deity was one of four sons of the creator god Ometeotl in his male form Ometecuhtli (“Two-Lord”) and his female form, Omecihuatl (“Two-Lady”), and brother of Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, and Huitzilopochtli. The accounts of the conquest are diverse and, at times, contradictory. It was Francisco López de Gómara who first said that the Spaniards conquered Mexico because the indigenous people had seen the conquistadors as gods. YES POINTS His arrival in the Aztec empire in Mexico occured around the same time that was prophesized of Quetzacoatl's return to their land. Seduced by their religious credulity, the Mexica—“Aztec” was a post-conquest term—were ripe for conquest by their “white gods.”Historians of early Mexico have buried the myth of the “white gods,” but this news hasn’t filtered into general knowledge. Some arguments in favor of Montezuma’s belief that Cortez was the god Quetzalcoatl begin with the god’s promise to return after he died in a pyre or sailed off in a boat traveling east. Cortés used his new allies and united them against the Aztecs, who were resented by local groups for the high tributes they exacted. When the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men arrived in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in 1521, they described witnessing a grisly ceremony. Centuries later, the Aztecs grew to control 200,000 square miles, ruling 6 million people. Motecuhzoma's behaviour when he received Cortés was natural for his culture, with all those speeches in which he offered the throne to the visitor and welcomed him so kindly. The legend can be dated back to 1552. This would obviate or answer awkward questions (which people back in Spain really did ask) about what right the Spaniards had to dispossess the indigenous rulers. He became fascinated with tales of Christopher Columbus' New World explorations. The real story here is how Cortes, with such a small force of men (regardles of the superior accoutrements of war) conquered the Aztec peoples. Yes, Cortés did attack Tenochtitlán, but he wasn't alone.Cortés had just 1,000 Spanish soldiers, but he joined forces with 100,000 natives, mainly Tlaxcalans, tribal enemies of the Aztecs.. Cortés did, after all, have to operate within an operational framework not entirely of his own making—one in which a concern for religion and spiritual mission was simply a necessity. As an Aztec deity, he was one of four sons of the creator god Ometeotl, associated with the wind god, and the patron god of arts and knowledge. During the Postclassic period (900–1521 CE), several cultures—including the Maya, Toltecs, Aztecs and other polities in Central Mexico—all practiced some version of the cult which had formed around the legends of Quetzalcoatl. Potential personal wealth also resided in the p… The Aztecs worshipped many gods and goddesses, and the number increased as more and more cities and tribes were forced to pay tribute to the Aztecs. Towards the end of the 15th century, Pope Alexander VI decreed that Spain could claim any lands in the New World for itself under the condition that the natives were converted to Christianity. Before he left, however, he promised to return. Other scholars suggest that the idea that Cortés and Quetzalcoatl were confused by the Mexica was entirely created by Franciscan friars, and elaborated during the post-Conquest period. He was a creator god, associated with the wind god (Ehecatl) and the planet Venus. (4) According to Document C, why did Spanish missionaries claim that Moctezuma believed Cortés was Quetzacoatl? The writings of the Native… By extraordinary coincidence, Cortés appeared out of the east in that very year. Along the way, Cortes and his men collected thousands of pounds of gold, silver, jewels … That, along with Spanish steel, guns, and horses, was the reason for the small Spanish retinue's unlikely conquest. Cortés had heard of the Aztecs and knew that they, and their leader Montezuma II, were a primary force in Mexico. This story, detailed in Spanish records, is almost certainly false, but how it arose is a fascinating story itself. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico in the 16th century, the conventional narrative declares that the native Aztecs (properly: the Mexica) mistook the conquistadors for gods. Cortes did not speak Nahuatl, so he culd not speak directly to Motecuhzoma/Montezuma. But when Montezuma noticed that he wasn't a god because he's … The problem is that Sahagun's Aztec … Nor do they they exactly reinforce the general idea that the Aztecs believed Cortés to be a god. Quetzalcoatl (Aztec God) Sailed to the East on a canoe made of serpents and was said to come back to destroy the empire being bearded and have wight skin. Yahoo forma parte de Verizon Media. As the story goes, the Aztec believed in a white, bearded god named Quetzalcoatl, who, long ago, had disappeared into the east. He was greeted as an honored guest, which was cool with him because it meant he'd be able to take the entire civilization quickly and treacherously. Nicoletta Maestri holds a Ph.D. in Mesoamerican archaeology with fieldwork experience in Italy, the Near East, and throughout Mesoamerica. At that time the great empire of the Mexica—now known as the Aztecs… Together, they successfully attacked Tenochtitlán and … The Aztecs were terrified of the horses the Spanish brought with them. The Spanish had better weapons and armor. Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, Spain. In his hasty retreat, he was startled by a quail and tripped and broke them (which is why humans come in a range of different sizes), but managed to carry the bones to the paradise of Tamoanchan, where the goddess Cihuacoatl ground them up and placed them in a jade bowl. According to local and colonial legends, the Toltec shaman/king Quetzalcoatl (known as Kukulcan in the Maya language) arrived in the Maya region after having been ousted by political rivals, bringing with him not just a new architectural style but a new set of religious and political practices associated with militarism and human sacrifice. What really happened... Or was it? Quetzalcoatl is the name of a central Mexican deity, closely related to the morning star, Venus. In 1519, Hernan Cortes and his greedy band of some 600 conquistadors began their audacious assault on the Mexica (Aztec) Empire.By 1521 the Mexica capital city of Tenochtitlan was in ashes, Emperor Montezuma was dead and the Spanish were firmly in control of what they took to calling "New Spain." Experts on Mesoamerican religion believe that the Aztec (1325–1521 CE) figure of Quetzalcoatl began with the legend of the pan-Mesoamerican god and blended in a historical Tollan leader, Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who reportedly lived 843–895 CE). He did so with aid from the various peoples that the Axtecs conquered. Did the Aztec empire actually view the conquistador, Hernan Cortes, as their god Quetzalcoatl? It was the nobility who created the prophecy, a series of omens and signs, and claimed that Motecuhzoma truly believed Cortes to have been Quetzalcoatl. The Aztecs called their era the time of the 5th Sun—there had been four previous versions of the earth and its people, each ruled by different gods. Quetzalcoatl and the Bones of the Ancestors, Tezcatlipoca: Aztec God of Night and Smoking Mirrors, The Toltecs - Semi-Mythical Legend of the Aztecs, Cempoala: Totonac Capital and Ally of Hernan Cortes, Xipe Totec: Grisly Aztec God of Fertility and Agriculture, Tonatiuh, the Aztec God of the Sun, Fertility and Sacrifice, History of Animal and Plant Domestication, Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California Riverside, M.A., Anthropology, University of California Riverside. They figured that the Spanish COULDN'T be worse than the Aztecs had been. A God. Some 21st- century historians, however, questioned not only whether the Aztecs thought Cortés was a god but whether the legend of Quetzalcóatl was really a part of the Aztecs’ belief system. He did neither. In November 1519, Hernán Cortés reached the Aztec Empire. To view Cortés as a Machiavellian manipulator of religion, however, does him injustice. The disease killed thousands of Aztecs. During the Terminal Classic or Epiclassic (650–1000 CE) period, the cult of the Feathered Serpent spread dramatically throughout Mesoamerica, including the central Mexico centers of Xochicalco, Cholula, and Cacaxtla. The most famous example of the Mayan Quetzalcoatl cult is reflected in the architectural aspects of Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán Peninsula, where Maya Puuc styles are contrasted with those of the Quetzalcoatl-inspired Toltec. One such myth is that the Aztecs believed that Hernan Cortes, the leader of a band of conquistadors, was in fact a reincarnated deity by the name of Quetzalcoatl. (3) According to Document C, why did Moctezuma tell Cortés that the Aztecs had been expecting him? Tenochtitlan (the most important Aztec city) was introduced to gods from all over the Aztec world. Cortés Defeats The Aztecs. At age 14, Cortés was sent to study law at the University of Salamanca, but he was restless and unhappy. During the 16th century, Quetzalcoatl – whose name in the Nahuatl language means “feathered serpent” or “plumed serpent”, was one of the principle Aztec deities. The quest for Aztec gold was at the forefront of the Cortés expedition and the reason why many soldiers willingly joined the campaign. Then Quetzalcoatl and other gods performed the first auto-sacrifice when they shed their blood over the bones and endowed them with life, thus lumbering humanity with a debt that had to be repaid by abundant human sacrifices. Why did the Aztecs think gold was the poo of the sun god? Pic 1b: from Tizatlan Codex (Click on image to enlarge) Thereafter, the plot thickens, mainly because of Cortés’s relationship with Malintzin (La Malinche) and with the Tlaxcalans, who hated the Aztecs … They suggested the well-known version of this story was a Spanish creation … The idea that Cortés was seen as a reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl Topiltzin can be traced to the work of Sahagun, who claimed that the Aztecs supposedly believed this and that's why they didn't take action against Cortés sooner. Letters to King Charles V. It is during this time that he began writing the second of his five letters to King Charles V. Quetzalcoatl’s fame is also linked to a persistent story about Hernan Cortés, the Spanish conquistador credited with conquering the Aztec Empire. "He arrived in the great Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán in 1519," said Cosme. So essentially they didn't really have a thunder god, they did associate spanish fire arms with thunder. Para obtener más información sobre cómo utilizamos tu información, consulta nuestra Política de privacidad y la Política de cookies. That's Cortés' own account on how Motecuhzoma assured Cortés that Motecuhzoma was not a god and was in fact a person just like Cortés. He was one of the most human-loving of the gods in the Aztec pantheon. Consider the following: 1. However, the majority of information about this god comes from Aztec/Mexica sources, including surviving Aztec codexes, as well as oral history told to the Spanish conquistadors. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. The story is that the last emperor Motecuhzoma (sometimes spelled Montezuma or Moctezuma) mistook Cortés for the returning god, based on the supposed resemblance between the Spanish conquistador and the god. Thanks for the A2A. Who did the Aztecs think Cortes was when he originally arrived in Tenochtitlan. 2. This is marked on the Biblical Timeline with History during 300 AD. Appeared to have identification after the Conquest. He appears in Post-classic tales from the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec cultures. In 1519, just two years after Martin Luther began the Reformation in Germany, Hernan Cortés arrived in Central America with the mixed motives of “God, Glory and Gold.” Along with this religious mission and the tantalizing lure of undiscovered riches, Hernán Cortés set off to accomplish both. So, the conjecture written 50 years later was based upon that quote and some remarks by Cortez to the Spanish Crown as to the naiveté of the Aztecs. This story, detailed in Spanish records, is almost certainly false, but how it arose is a fascinating story itself. YES POINTS His arrival in the Aztec empire in Mexico occured around the same time that was prophesized of Quetzacoatl's return to their land. Puedes cambiar tus opciones en cualquier momento visitando Tus controles de privacidad. He was the god who met with an ant to provide humans with their first maize to plant, and he was responsible for saving all humanity at the beginning of the Fifth Sun. Episode #10- Did the Aztecs Think Cortés Was A God? ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Disease like smallpox (lack of Aztec immunity). The pyramid of Quetzalcoatl (god of the 'feathered serpent') is showing the alternating 'Tlaloc' (left, with goggle eyes, a god of rain, fertility, and water) and feathered serpent (right, with a collar of feathers) heads. In his human aspect, he is often depicted in dark colors with a red beak, symbolizing Ehecatl, the wind god; and wearing a cut shell as a pendant, symbolizing Venus. The idea that Cortés was seen as a reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl Topiltzin can be traced to the work of Sahagun, who claimed that the Aztecs supposedly believed this and that's why they didn't take action against Cortés sooner. The accounts of the conquest are diverse and, at times, contradictory. To warn him about the conquest. Columbus had landed at San Salvador and explored the West Indies in 1492, when Cortés was a young boy. The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by an alliance of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan (the capital of the Mexica) and several other smaller cities. They did. Moctezuma did not think Cortés was a god (Quetzalcoatl) ... And whether Motecuhzoma really thought Cortés was a god or not is lost to legend. The final twist in Quetzalcoatl’s story came with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, who claimed that Cortés was welcomed as the long-departed Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl who, in another story, did not kill himself but left on a long voyage over the ocean, promising one day to return. The problem is that Sahagun's Aztec … Cortes does not eat it but not because he know about the blood but because he believes it is poisoned, this confused the Aztecs. His appearance and personality was At the end of the fourth sun, so it is told, all humanity was drowned, and after the creation of the fifth sun, Quetzalcoatl descended into the underworld (Mictlan) to negotiate with the god of the underworld (Mictlantecuhtli) the return of humanity's bones so the earth could be repopulated. Cortés even had ship-builders who made boats used in the battle for Tenochtitlan. How did the Aztecs test to see if Cortes was Quetz? Even in modern Quechua the world "illapa" can mean both "thunder" and "rifle". In many images, he is depicted wearing a plumed headdress and carrying a plumed shield. While he had never been to Mexico, López de Gómara was chaplain and secretary to the retired Hernando Cortés, the one who lead the conquistadors. If gold did not come their way then silver, textiles, jewelry and other treasures were never far from reach. (Part II) The story of the war between the Aztec (Mexica) empire and the Spanish conquistadors is one of the most dramatic in world history. Quetzalcoatl pronounced Keh-tzal-coh-WAH-tul and roughly translated as the "Feathered Serpent", the "Plumed Serpent" or the "Quetzal-Feathered Serpent", is the name of an important Mesoamerican deity who was worshiped throughout the region in one form or another for 1,200 years. De cookies leader Montezuma II, were a primary force in Mexico Mexico because the indigenous people had seen conquistadors. Ruled over the Aztec religion—as it was for many other societies in the of... Nuestra Política de cookies `` rifle '' a central Mexican deity, closely related to the morning star Venus... Introduced to gods from all over the Aztec legend of the gods in the p… Episode 9... Many images, he is depicted wearing a plumed headdress and carrying a shield! For Cortés ( Ehecatl ) and the tantalizing lure of undiscovered riches, Cortés! 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