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Strangers on the Coast
The Spanish conquistador HERNAN CORTES landed
on the Yucatan Peninsula in what is now MEXICO in
1519. He and his crew of more than 600 soldiers had
come to find RICHES and to claim the land for SPAIN.
Through the MAYAN people who greeted him,
CORTES learned of the mighty AZTEC empire.
Before marching off to find the AZTECS, CORTES
claimed MEXICO for SPAIN and the ROMAN
Cortes in Tenochtitlan
CORTES and his troops arrived at the Aztec capital of
Tenochtitlan in November 1519.
The Aztec ruler, MONTEZUMA, tried to appease the
Spanish by giving them GOLD. However, the Spanish
wanted more GOLD, and fighting soon broke out between
the two groups.
The Aztec fought hard, but many of them soon fell to
European DISEASES such as SMALLPOX and MEASLES.
Cortes conquered the Aztecs in 1521. He destroyed
Tenochtitlan and ordered that a new city, MEXICO CITY,
be built on the site.
Pizarro and the Incas
In 1531, the Spanish conquistador FRANCISCO
PIZARRO marched on the Incan Empire in South
By 1535, PIZARRO had conquered the empire and
made it a SPANISH colony.
SOUTH AMERICA held far more gold than MEXICO,
and the former Incan empire became SPAIN’S richest