Quiz about Fall of the Aztec Empire
Quiz about Fall of the Aztec Empire

Fall of the Aztec Empire Trivia Quiz


This quiz looks at how the once mighty Aztec Empire was brought down by Hernan Cortes and a handful of conquistadors.

A multiple-choice quiz by AlonsoKing. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
AlonsoKing
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
367,210
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
332
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. In 1502 the great warrior, Emperor Ahuizotl, died and was succeeded by Montezuma II. How did Montezuma become the next emperor? Hint

He was the eldest son of Ahuizotl
He was a member of the royal family chosen for his prowess in battle
He was elected by the Aztec people
He seized power in a bloody civil war

2. Hernan Cortes, the man who would be Montezuma's nemesis, came from a totally different environment. He had grown up in an impoverished region of Spain. Which region, whose name in Latin literally means 'extremity', is this? Hint

Catalunya
Galicia
Andalusia
Extremadura

3. A Mayan chieftain gave Cortes a slave girl who was of noble descent and spoke Nahuatl. She became invaluable as an interpreter. Her name was Malinalli, the Spaniards called her Marina, but she is best known under which name? Hint

Pocahontas
Dido
Sacajawea
Malinche

4. In April 1519 Cortes and his conquistadors finally came ashore in the Gulf of Mexico. There he founded a settlement which has become an important Mexican port city. Which city is this? Hint

Acapulco
Veracruz
Mazatlan
Puerto Vallarta

5. Cortes set off for a 400 km (250 mi) journey to Tenochtitlan. On his way he had to pass through the territory of a city-state whose residents hated the Aztecs. Their lands formed an enclave in the Aztec Empire and they lived in constant fear of an Aztec attack. Which city-state was this? Hint

Copan
Cahokia
Tlaxcala
Tikal

6. Cortes reached Tenochtitlan in November 1519. He was welcomed cordially by Montezuma who gave him free access to the city and let him stay in the royal palace. This was highly unusual for an Aztec royal who was of such an elevated status that even his own subjects weren't allowed to look directly at him. One possible reason for this leniency is that Montezuma mistook Cortes for an Aztec god who, according to legend, would one day come back from the east. Which god is this? Hint

Tezcatlipoca
Huitzilopochtli
Quetzalcoatl
Tlaloc

7. Cortes and his conquistadors were badly outnumbered in Tenochtitlan. Cortes made a bold move to turn the odds in his favour. What did he do? Hint

He took Montezuma prisoner
He poisoned the food supplies
He set fire to Tenochtitlan
He let his conquistadors loose on unarmed people in the market square, causing a bloodbath

8. Why did Cortes suddenly leave Tenochtitlan and return to the coast? Hint

He fled because he didn't believe his small number of men could ever conquer such a big city
There was a mutiny among his men
He had heard that a large party of conquistadors had landed on the coast with an arrest warrant from the Cuban governor
Montezuma had bribed him with a room full of gold and a room full of silver

9. According to Spanish sources, how did Montezuma die? Hint

He was executed by the Spaniards after a mock trial
Unknown, he was banished and never heard from again
He committed suicide
He was killed by his own people

10. How did Cortes eventually conquer Tenochtitlan? Hint

He negotiated a treaty. Tenochtitlan would become a vassal of Spain. In the following years the Aztec lands were incorporated into the Spanish Americas
He built a huge wall around the city and starved the defenders
He built a fleet to attack via Lake Texcoco and conquered the city with help from his local allies
He retreated to the hills and waited for more soldiers to arrive from Spain


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In 1502 the great warrior, Emperor Ahuizotl, died and was succeeded by Montezuma II. How did Montezuma become the next emperor?

Answer: He was a member of the royal family chosen for his prowess in battle

The Aztecs had a hereditary system of succession. However, it wasn't necessarily a son of the previous ruler who would succeed him. The successor was chosen within the royal family. Montezuma was Ahuizotl's nephew and chosen because he was the best warrior.

Warfare was a very important aspect of Aztec life. Their battles were largely ritual and the goal wasn't to kill the opponent on the battlefield but to take him captive so he could be sacrificed to the gods. A man was considered a great warrior when he had taken four prisoners. He then was showered with honour and allowed to wear special fighting gear. Their primitive weaponry consisted mainly of wooden clubs set with sharp pieces of obsidian.

Of all the Aztec emperors, Ahuizotl had conquered the most lands. Montezuma added even more to this. By 1519 the Aztec empire stretched from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast and as far south as present-day Guatemala. The conquered tribes were allowed to continue their lives as before and keep worshipping their own gods as long as they paid tribute to Tenochtitlan. Ahuizotl had also increased the number of sacrifices, which kept his enemies mortified. Unsurprisingly, many of the conquered peoples were very resentful towards their Aztec overlords.

The Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was built on an island in lake Texcoco. It was connected to the mainland by three causeways that could be closed off, which made the city virtually impregnable. It was one of the largest cities on earth in the early 16th century and had grown fabulously wealthy from tribute. Agriculture was also more efficient than in Europe. Tenochtitlan had a network of canals dotted with chinampas, patches of fertile land.
2. Hernan Cortes, the man who would be Montezuma's nemesis, came from a totally different environment. He had grown up in an impoverished region of Spain. Which region, whose name in Latin literally means 'extremity', is this?

Answer: Extremadura

Hernan Cortes was born in Medellin, a small town in Extremadura, Spain, in 1485. He had an education in law rather than in warfare. With hot and dry summers and terrain that yielded little income from farming it was the least populated region of Spain. Many of the impoverished population went to the New World hoping to make a fortune. The region was the birthplace of several other famous (or notorious) conquistadors such as Francisco Pizarro, Francisco de Orellana and Hernando de Soto.

In 1504 Cortes sailed to Hispaniola where he assisted Diego Velazquez with the conquest of Cuba. Velazquez became the governor of Cuba and later Cortes' brother-in-law. When in 1517 Velazquez commissioned an expedition to the mainland Cortes lobbied to be the commander of the expedition. Although by then the relationship between Velazquez and Cortes was already strained he reluctantly gave his permission, albeit under the condition that it would only be a trade mission. Velazquez later changed his mind but Cortes ignored that and went anyway.

Cortes set sail with 500 conquistadors and a number of Cuban servants to the Yucatan peninsula. There they rescued Geronimo de Aguilar, a priest who was shipwrecked a couple of years before and had learned the Maya language.

The three wrong answers are also autonomous communities in Spain.
3. A Mayan chieftain gave Cortes a slave girl who was of noble descent and spoke Nahuatl. She became invaluable as an interpreter. Her name was Malinalli, the Spaniards called her Marina, but she is best known under which name?

Answer: Malinche

From Yucatan Cortes sailed to Tabasco where he was attacked by a hostile Mayan tribe. The conquistadors easily defeated the Mayans in a short battle. Now the conquistadors knew the locals weren't a match for them. After the battle the Mayan chieftain gave Cortes twenty female slaves, of which one was Malinche.

With Malinche Cortes could now communicate with the Aztecs. She translated from Nahuatl (the Aztec language) to Mayan, and de Aguilar then translated from Mayan to Spanish. This elaborate way of communicating must have been difficult and may have contributed to some misunderstandings between the Spaniards and the Aztecs. Later Malinche learned Spanish, which made things easier. She became Cortes' mistress and gave birth to his son Martin.

Over the years Malinche has become somewhat of a legend in Mexico. Depending on what one's point of view she is sometimes seen as 'the mother of Mexico' or as a traitor. Malinchista is a derogatory term in Mexico for a disloyal person.
4. In April 1519 Cortes and his conquistadors finally came ashore in the Gulf of Mexico. There he founded a settlement which has become an important Mexican port city. Which city is this?

Answer: Veracruz

Since Cortes had sailed to the mainland without the approval of the Cuban governor his expedition was considered illegal. He founded a settlement which he called La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (Rich Village of the True Cross). A hastily created council pronounced him 'adelantado', which gave him the right to act as governor for the region. This was a legal trick to free himself from the authority of the Cuban governor.

Montezuma had spies all over the country and was already aware of the Spanish presence. Shortly after Cortes had landed he was met by an Aztec delegate. He gave Cortes gold and many presents, hoping he would accept this and go away. It had the opposite effect. Now they had seen gold they were even more determined to push on. When Cortes asked if the Aztecs had more gold the delegate answered: "Yes, we have". It was the worst possible answer he could have given.

Today Veracruz is Mexico's oldest and most important port. The city has about 550,000 inhabitants (2010 census). The three wrong answers are Mexican cities on the Pacific coast.
5. Cortes set off for a 400 km (250 mi) journey to Tenochtitlan. On his way he had to pass through the territory of a city-state whose residents hated the Aztecs. Their lands formed an enclave in the Aztec Empire and they lived in constant fear of an Aztec attack. Which city-state was this?

Answer: Tlaxcala

As soon as the Tlaxcalans realised how powerful the Spanish weapons were they proposed an alliance. They saw the Spanish presence as an opportunity to rid themselves of the Aztec yoke. This was very welcome to Cortes, who was badly outnumbered by the Aztecs.

Cortes and his newfound allies then headed towards Cholula, a city-state that was a vassal of the Aztecs. Montezuma had given orders for an ambush of the Spaniards in the narrow streets of Cholula. Cortes had heard of these plans and attacked preemptively. Again the locals proved to be no match for European iron and gunpowder. The Spaniards slaughtered most of the Cholulan warriors and the survivors were taken to Tlaxcala to be sacrificed. The road to Tenochtitlan now lay open.

Cahokia is a Native American settlement in the USA, Tikal is a Maya settlement in Guatemala and Copan is a Maya settlement in Honduras.
6. Cortes reached Tenochtitlan in November 1519. He was welcomed cordially by Montezuma who gave him free access to the city and let him stay in the royal palace. This was highly unusual for an Aztec royal who was of such an elevated status that even his own subjects weren't allowed to look directly at him. One possible reason for this leniency is that Montezuma mistook Cortes for an Aztec god who, according to legend, would one day come back from the east. Which god is this?

Answer: Quetzalcoatl

Quetzalcoatl means feathered snake in Nahuatl. Many Mesoamerican cultures worshipped the feathered snake. In the Aztec Empire Cholula functioned as the centre of worship of Quetzalcoatl. The myth of Quetzalcoatl may have been merged with the myth of Topiltzin. Topiltzin was a mythical Lord of the Toltecs who brought his people to Tullun (now the site of Tula). The myth ends with Topiltzin going eastwards to find a resting place. The subsequent Toltec lords ruled in his name. The Aztecs may have adopted this myth to legitimize their power after they had conquered the lands that had once belonged to the Toltecs. According to some versions they believed that Quetzalcoatl-Topiltzin would one day return to reclaim his lands.

The Aztecs lived by a complicated calendar that consisted of a cycle of 52 years. Each year of the cycle was given a specific name and was associated with a deity. According to the myth Quetzalcoatl would return in the year One Reed. That year coincided with 1519. Before Cortes had reached Tenochtitlan Montezuma's spies had described the conquistadors as 'bearded men with white faces who rode on deer as high as a house' and who had 'sticks that spit fire and could tear apart trees'. Quetzalcoatl was supposed to come from the east and have a white face and a beard.

It has to be noted that there are no Aztec sources of a myth saying that Quetzalcoatl would return one day. This may well be a story concocted by the Spaniards, who were eager to depict the Aztecs as superstitious savages.
7. Cortes and his conquistadors were badly outnumbered in Tenochtitlan. Cortes made a bold move to turn the odds in his favour. What did he do?

Answer: He took Montezuma prisoner

Aztec society was very hierarchical. The ruler determined every aspect of Aztec life, and without him nothing could function properly. Cortes allowed Montezuma to rule from captivity, but obviously it was Cortes who was pulling the strings. Cortes forced Montezuma to swear an oath of allegiance to the Spanish King Charles V.
8. Why did Cortes suddenly leave Tenochtitlan and return to the coast?

Answer: He had heard that a large party of conquistadors had landed on the coast with an arrest warrant from the Cuban governor

Rumours that a second group of conquistadors had landed near Veracruz reached Tenochtitlan. Cortes rushed back to the coast with 240 conquistadors. The others stayed behind in Tenochtitlan under his second in command, Pedro de Alvarado.

There were in fact 900 conquistadors in Veracruz, led by Panfilo de Navaez. They had been sent by Cuban governor Diego Velazquez to arrest Cortes on the charges of mutiny and treason. Velazquez' actions were probably caused by fear that Cortes would become too powerful, or maybe he just wanted the Aztec riches for himself.

When Cortes arrived in Veracruz he was outnumbered by the new arrivals but he mounted a surprise attack. He took de Navaez prisoner and persuaded the other conquistadors to follow him instead. He told stories about the immense wealth of Tenochtitlan and promised them a part of the spoils of war. Cortes then returned to Tenochtitlan with 900 extra men.
9. According to Spanish sources, how did Montezuma die?

Answer: He was killed by his own people

During Cortes' absence from Tenochtitlan de Alvarado and his men had slaughtered a number of Aztec nobles at a religious festival. The Aztecs had had enough and besieged the Spaniards who retreated to the royal palace where Montezuma was still in captivity. The siege was still in progress when Cortes returned to Tenochtitlan.

According to Spanish sources, Montezuma appeared on the balcony of the royal palace to ask his people to retreat. The Aztec people then stoned Montezuma to death because he was unable to deal with the Spanish threat. Given the godlike status of Montezuma this is very unlikely. Aztec sources from after the conquest say that Montezuma was stabbed by the Spaniards, but since there are no contemporary Aztec sources we will probably never know the whole truth.

What happened next is unclear. Somehow Cortes and a number of conquistadors fled Tenochtitlan under the cover of night. Most conquistadors were left behind and sacrificed to the Aztec gods. This event is known in Mexican history as 'la noche triste' (the sad night).
10. How did Cortes eventually conquer Tenochtitlan?

Answer: He built a fleet to attack via Lake Texcoco and conquered the city with help from his local allies

After having fled Tenochtitlan Cortes was determined not to give up. He and the surviving conquistadors retreated to Tlaxcala to recuperate. Then Cortes gave his master shipbuilder, Martin Lopez, the order to start building a fleet. He also had the causeways blockaded. The Aztec defenders started to weaken because of European diseases and famine. Most of their former vassals had revolted and tributes no longer came to Tenochtitlan. It took Cortes almost a year of preparations before he could attack. Most of his army now consisted of Tlaxcalan warriors. Tenochtitlan fell on August 13, 1521 after 80 days of bloody siege.

Those who hadn't died in the siege or from disease were used as slave labourers. The Aztec temples were destroyed and Lake Texcoco was eventually drained. On the ruins of Tenochtitlan arose present-day metropolis Mexico City. Cortes had almost single-handedly destroyed the Aztec Empire.
Source: Author AlonsoKing

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