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The declines of the Aztec and Inca Empires

The declines of the Aztec and Inca empires were similar because of the way they fell and who they fell by.  Both Empires fell to small contingents of Spaniards.  First Cortes was thought to be the god Quetzalcoatl by the Aztec people.  Of course the emperor Moctezuma was scared and did not know how to react.  While moving inland Cortes met a Native American woman whose people had been conquered by the Aztecs and served as the guide and interpreter as they moved inland.  She told them stories of mistreatment and picked up more support along the way because of Cortez’s promise to free them.  Cortes finally got to the capital and his men killed Moctezuma and sacked the Aztec Capital.  Cortes’ men set fire to the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. The victorious Spaniards built their new capital on the site of the old one. Defeated Aztecs were put to work tearing down the old city’s statues and buildings.  The city was later called Mexico City the capital of Mexico.

Now moving south the conquistador Francisco Pizarro reached Peru where Atahualpa, the son of the former Inca ruler, had just defeated his brother in a war for the throne and the Inca Empire was very week and exhausted.  Now just winning the battle and gaining the throne the young ruler was very arrogant and thought nothing of the small number of Spaniards in his midst.  Then Pizarro took him prisoner and executed him the next year and without a ruler the Empire was easy prey for the Spaniards.  Pizarro soon captured the Inca capital city of Cuzco.  In Peru, Pizarro also ordered a new capital to be constructed. But the Inca stronghold of Cuzco was high in the Andes Mountains, far too remote for the capital of a Spanish colony.  In 1535, Pizarro founded a new city near the Pacific coast.  He called it “the City of the Kings.” The city was laid out in Spanish style. A large plaza, surrounded by a cathedral and government buildings, formed the heart of the city.  That city was later called Lima the capital of Peru.

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