Tuesday, January 15

We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma

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In the early 16th century, Spanish colonies were already well established in the Caribbean islands and they were turning their eyes westward.  Under the leadership of Hernán Cortés, the Spaniards looked to Aztec territory in present-day Mexico.

The island capital of Tenochtitlan, built on islands in Lake Texcoco, was a bustling metropolis of the era!  It was linked to mainland by causeways, had a freshwater source, and was an engineering feat.  Thousands of people visited and lived in this empire.  The area is present-day Mexico City.

The Aztecs who lived here had an ordered system, but were often regarded as brutal because of their practice of human sacrifice.  They often captured victims for this purpose, and occasionally allowed themselves to become victims to obtain a privileged afterlife.

Upon his arrival, Montezuma (ruler of the Aztecs at the time) thought Cortes was the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, and he greeted him with great honor.  However, within a few months, Montezuma was captured and killed.  While historians aren’t sure how he was killed, they do know that the Spaniards tried to flee after his death.  The Aztecs attacked them as they fled, killing half of the Spanish army; this is known as the “Night of Sorrows.”

The Aztecs had already been weakened, though, by diseases that the Spaniards introduced to the area.  After a three-month siege of the area, the Spaniards were able to conquer the Aztecs in August 1521.  In only two years, Hernán Cortés brought about the downfall of this great military civilization.

Even now, five centuries after his death, many modern Mexicans have little respect for Montezuma, who they blame for the fall of the Aztec empire due to poor leadership.

Our spine novel is We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma

Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

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  1. It's interesting that people still have feelings about him. Kinda like Spanish who still hate Elizabeth I b/c of the Spanish Armada defeat.

  2. i now know what the Night of Sorrows was all about!

  3. Interesting information. Thanks for sharing about these men.


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