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The Unequal Fight

The Spanish Invasion of Tenochtitlan

Aztec Weapons
1. War Club
.

Could cut like a knife, but shattered against hard


surfaces like armor.

Designed for swinging or chopping, but was so heavy


that a warrior had to use both hands to swing it.

2. Wooden Spear
. Ends were sharpened wood that had been hardened
in fire.
. Aztecs would try to get close to the enemy and
thrust the spears at unprotected areas such as the
throat and eyes.
3. Atlatl
. Was a piece of jointed wood that allowed a warrior
to throw a short spear great distances.
4. Bows and Arrows and Slings
. Allowed warriors to attack from mid distance but
useless against protected surfaces.

Spanish Weapons

1. Sword

. Doubled edged, needle pointed, and


sharp as a razor.
. One handed weapon which could both
slash and stab at an enemy. The other
hand was free to carry a shield or
hold the reins of a horse.
2. Halberd
. Was over two metres long and had a
spear blade, an axe point, and a hook.
3. Crossbow
. Could shoot a wooden arrow with such
force that it could penetrate even the
thickest armor.

Weapons Unknown to the Aztecs

The Spanish also brought muskets, which were long


rifle-like guns that were fired from the shoulder. They
also brought cannons.

These firearms were common in Europe but were


unknown in Mexico. When the Aztecs first heard these
weapons go off, they thought it was thunder and
lightning.

The Spanish also brought horses with them. The


Aztecs had never seen horses and Cortes used the
animals to great advantage.

Their size, power, and speed fascinated the Aztecs.

The Spanish were such well trained riders that they


could hold the reins with one hand and attack an
enemy using a weapon with the other.

The Role of Disease

In the conflict between the Spanish and the Aztecs,


disease gave the Spanish a massive advantage.

At a critical point in the battle, a smallpox epidemic


broke out in Tenochtitlan, killing vast numbers of
Aztecs and weakening their ability to resist the
Spanish assault.

The Spanish brought the disease over with them


from Europe. The Spanish had been exposed to the
disease in Europe and over time, had built up
immunity to the smallpox virus.

Some Spanish never caught the disease, and those


who did survived. However since the Aztecs had
never been exposed to smallpox before, they had no
immunity.