The History of Mexico

When people think of Mexico they think Spanish, but that is wasn’t always the way it was. For thousands of years the Spanish hadn’t even heard of the New World. Or what is now known as Mexico. Various Mesoamerican tribes ruled it. There is evidence of people living in the area over 15,000 years ago. These people were nomadic and roamed all around South America. Around 2500 BC these people began to grow crops and set up villages, instead of hunt and gather, and move around all the time. This left more time to start a civilization.

One of the first of these civilizations was the Olmec, who lived around 1500 to 600 BC. They lived in what is now the Mexican State of Tabasco and Veracruz. Scholars believe that this tribe started it all, traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles that were used by the tribes that came after them. The made a calendar, early mathematics, and art including sculptures made of jade. Around 900 to 400 BC the Olmecs were destroyed. The Zabotec people were next to rise up in 500 BC at what is now Oaxaca. They made the first writing system in the Americas. It consisted of characters like hieroglyphics.

At about the same time the Mayans started to flourish too. The Mayans lived from 250 to 900 AD, the built temples, homes, and ball courts in all their cities. The also made a calendar that was the most accurate in the world until about the 16th century. The Mayan cities were strangely deserted and what was left of them moved to the Yucatan Peninsula, this is where the stayed. In the 10th century a new group called the Toltecs ruled. They were the first people of Mexico to leave a complete history. The ruled much of central Mexico and other tribes and groups paid them tribute.

Two centuries later there was a great drought in Northern Mexico; and starving people moving south overwhelmed the Toltecs and overthrew them. The biggest and greatest tribe to ever rule Mexico was the Mexica, which is how the name Mexico originated, or later called the Aztecs. The Aztecs drew from the Toltecs and other groups for their civilization. When the started they paid tributes to neighboring tribes and were forced to live in swampy, wet lands. There was a small island that was the only piece of dry land available. Legend says that they settled there after seeing an eagle with a serpent in its claws.

The symbol which is now on the flag of Mexico. Tenochtitlan was what they named the island and their new capital. It soon grew, and the Aztecs created a great military force. They Expanded to rule most of Central and Southern Mexico. They went form coast to coast. Tenochtitlan became one of the largest cities in the world, the Aztecs seemed an unbeatable force. Although in the 1500s the Spanish started their conquest of the New World. The Spanish occupied what is no the Dominican Republic and Cuba. The first governor of Cuba sent three expeditions to Mexico. The First was led by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba.

He set sail in 1517. They charted the coast along the Yucatan Peninsula, but when they ashore Mayans attacked them and killed over half. The rest reported back to Cuba, sparking new interest in Mexico. One year later a second expedition set sail under the command of Juan De Grijalva. The Expedition defeated the Mayans, and explored more of the coast. Montezuma II heard of the Spaniards and told his subjects in the region to give them a feast and ask them to leave. He feared this was the return of an angry Quetzalcoatl, a white god who left Mexico but said he would return.

When the expedition returned and reported of the Aztec empire, the governor sent a third expedition in 1519. This time led by Hernan Cortes. Cortes prepared and was about to set sail when some of his enemies complained. The governor called off the expedition but Cortes ignored the orders and left anyway. When he landed he set up his own government that reported only to the Spanish Monarchy. He destroyed all his boats so his men couldn’t desert him and he set out towards the Aztec empire. He encountered the Tlaxcalan people just outside the Aztec borders.

The Tlaxcalan hated the Aztec and after some fighting joined with the Spanish and marched to the city of Cholula. The Aztecs there let the Spanish in but not the Tlaxcalan. Cortes spent three days in the city before getting word that there was an ambush planned. Cortes reacted by locking all the leader of the city in a room and then massacred all the citizens. They killed over 3,000 Aztecs that day. The Spaniards then marched toward the Aztec capital. Montazuma met the Spaniards outside the city and invited them in. They were allowed a communal place and could walk around the city.

Thinking the Aztecs would try and betray him Cortes took captive Montazuma and made him swear allegiance to Spain. At the same time the governor of Cuba sent men over in 1520 to arrest Cortes. Cortes found out about this and decided to leave 200 men at Tenochtitlan and go take care of the men the governor sent. He took their camp at night and killed the leader and persuaded the rest to join him. As Cortes made his way back to Tenochtitlan, the men he left there were instituting harsher rules in fear of an attack. They killed hundreds of Aztecs in a religious ceremony causing an up rise.

Cortes got there and was allowed to enter the city but after he did he was attacked. Cortes had Montezuma speak to the Aztecs to stop the revolts; he was stoned and died a few days later. The Spaniards retreated but lost over half their men and all their cannons. Cortes reorganized his army in the summer of 1520 with the help of the Talaxcalans. By 1521 he had taken many Aztec outposts and had surrounded the capital. The Spanish raided the city daily and made special boats that could bombard the island city. After three months the Aztecs who had no food or fresh water, had their new emperor captured and the city fell.

The Aztec Empire had been destroyed. The Spanish destroyed all the buildings and made a new city on the island and used it as their new capital. They named the country New Spain and set up a government. They expanded their rule to most of Mexico, and brought over people to live in the new country. The island city is still the capitttal of the Mexico and is called Mexico City. At first there was a major social difference between Spaniards and the Native People; but with the intermingling of the races it became harder and harder.

The new government was very corrupt and many citizens wanted to form a new country separate from Spain. This Eventually happened when Spain lost its grip of New Spain due to a war between Spain and France. The new country formed was called Mexico. There were many people who lived in Mexico before the Spanish came. In this essay I have told you about those people. About how Spain came to rule Mexico. And about how Mexico became how it is today. Mexico is a country with a deep culture that shows all these things.


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