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Warlord of the Aztecs

Tsouras, Peter G.

Publication Year: 2005

Places Aztec civilization and history in the context of world history Montezuma (ca. 1466û1520), who had been educated as a priest and had served well as a military commander, ascended to the Aztec throne in about 1502 on the basis of his military record and reputation for piety. As Peter G. Tsouras demonstrates, almost immediately Montezuma transformed himself from a man of good judgment to a pitiless autocrat. He killed indiscriminately at home and waged wars of conquest against his neighbors, adding territory in contemporary Honduras and Nicaragua to his empire. In 1519, Hern?n CortTs arrived in Mexico at the head of a Spanish expedition. Montezuma believed the invaders to be gods fulfilling the prophecy that the god Quetzalcoatl would return. He failed to resist and cautiously offered gifts. As a result, CortTs and the conquistadors marched on the capital and seized Montezuma. The monarch fell, surrendering his power, wealth, and even the sovereignty of his people, almost gladly. He became a puppet of the Spaniards and finally allied himself in battle against his own people. When the emperorÆs brother at last led an uprising, the ungrateful Spaniards killed Montezuma.

Against the backdrop of ancient MexicoÆs rich cultural heritage, Tsouras captures the tragedy that befell Mexico during MontezumaÆs reign.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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p. vii

List of Maps

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

Cortés could not pronounce his name and so gave it a Spanish flavor— Montezuma. There was much more about this Indian ruler of fifteen million subjects that the Conquistador did not understand, aside from his name—properly Motecuhzoma, the Angry Lord. But he did grasp the one most correct thing about this mighty man,...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Chapter 1 The Rise of Empire

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pp. 3-17

In early November 1519 Hernan Cortés and his band of adventurers emerged from a mountain pass and saw the Valley of Mexico, the teeming heart of the Mexica Empire. Known later as the Aztecs, the Mexica had created in less than a hundred years the mightiest and richest empire Mesoamerica had ever seen. Their achievement still..

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Chapter 2 “There Was Dread in the World”

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pp. 18-32

The electors of the empire met to pick Ahuítzotl’s successor the day after his ashes had been interred in the Great Temple. As was his right, Nezahualpilli, lord of Texcoco and son of Nezahualcoyotl, addressed the assembled lords. First he spoke of the importance of the office they would soon fill. With your vote and consent...

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Chapter 3 Arrow Wars and Flower Wars

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pp. 33-40

The rich Mixtec region of Tototepec along the Pacific coast of Oaxaca had been under assault by the Mexica for several generations and had been much reduced in size. After his coronation war, Motecuhzoma directed his first campaigns there. He led the army in person, determined to excel the now-legendary Ahuítzotl His first target, however, was chosen more by greed than policy. In 1503 he heard...

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Chapter 4 Omens of the End of the World

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pp. 41-49

Already by 1510 the tight bonds that Motecuhzoma had created to keep his world in place had frayed badly. Repeated campaigns in Oaxaca had not quelled the region’s rebelliousness, and repeated defeats close at hand in the flower turned arrow wars were an open shame. One day, Nezahualpilli arrived unexpectedly to seek a private meeting. Motecuhzoma was much surprised; it...

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Chapter 5 The Meeting of Two Worlds

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pp. 50-60

As Motecuhzoma followed the inexorable progress of Cortés, he summoned the kings of Texcoco and Tlacopan to his palace to be with him when he welcomed the —the gods. He moaned as he said, O mighty lords, it is fitting that the three of us be here to receive the gods and therefore I wish to find solace with you. I wish to greet you now and also bid..

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Chapter 6 The Taming of Motecuhzoma

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pp. 61-69

Six days after the Spanish arrival in Tenochtitlan, Tlaxcallan messengers slipped into the compound with letters reporting the murder of the Spaniards near Vera Cruz. Already Cortés’s captains had demanded the seizure of Motecuhzoma to prevent his turning upon them. The size and splendor of Tenochtitlan had left them sleepless in...

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Chapter 7 “He Had Survived His Honor”

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pp. 70-85

Motecuhzoma had surrendered all the things of earthly value— power, wealth, even the sovereignty of his people, almost gladly. Now Cortés would press him for the things of the spirit. Perhaps he felt that this too would follow. Shortly after the execution of Quauhpopoca, Cortés climbed the 114 steps of the Great Temple with a bodyguard. To let in the light they cut..

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Chapter 8 The Dusk of Empire

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pp. 86-94

Even as his corpse grew cold, Motecuhzoma’s dead hand held the fate of the Mexica in its grip. The damage he had done to the empire had left it too narrow a margin in the dangerous days that were to follow. There were only a few chances to recover the situation. One by one they would be missed. The Toxcatl massacre had cut a deadly swath through the Mexica governing...

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pp. 95-97

Motecuhzoma may have died on the day the Spaniards fled Tenochtitlan, but his ghost continued to haunt the Mexica. His successors would be crippled by the consequences of his reign. Other men would don the turquoise Toltec diadem as tlatoani. They would be men of heroic stature, in the mold of the best of their empire..


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pp. 98-105

Bibliographic Note

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pp. 106-110


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pp. 111-114

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About the Author, Military Profiles Available and Forthcoming

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pp. 115-117

Peter G. Tsouras is a distinguished defense analyst. For sixteen years previously he was a military intelligence analyst working for the U.S. Army on the military forces of the Soviet Union and Russia, Iran,...

E-ISBN-13: 9781612340654
E-ISBN-10: 1612340652
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574888218
Print-ISBN-10: 1574888218

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2005

OCLC Number: 899261748
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Montezuma

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Subject Headings

  • Montezuma II, Emperor of Mexico, approximately 1480-1520.
  • Aztecs -- History -- 16th century.
  • Aztecs -- Kings and rulers -- Biography.
  • Mexico -- History -- Conquest, 1519-1540.
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