Introduction of smallpox into Mexico by the Spanish around 1520 was one of the factors that led to the demise of Aztec Empire. None of the Mexicans died. It took CortГ©s two years, but he finally conquered the Aztec capital in August 1521. How to Use the, United Why do you think people died of "famine" during this epidemic? Diseases brought to the Americas by Europeans after the Columbian Exchange caused a population decline among Native Americans that was the largest in human history. The Aztec authors of the codex described how smallpox caused many deaths soon after the Spaniards arrived, not only because of the disease itself but also because so few remained healthy enough to feed and tend … From a cross-checking of five key sources the author concludes that "reporting that many died of it [smallpox] must be the influence of the Franciscan myth." YorkTalks 2021 The document was produced by the victors and must be used with caution, although Sahagún's account is the closest we come to reading about the events of 1519 to 1521 as the Aztecs understood and responded to them. The Aztecs (/ ˈ æ z t ɛ k s /) were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. On August 13, 1521, the city fell to Cortes. After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernán Cortés capture Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire. Many great encounters in world history, including CortГ©s’s clash with the Aztec empire, had less to do with weaponry, tactics and strategy than with the ravages of disease. There was indeed perishing; many indeed died of it. The brave warriors waged war in boats; the shield-boatmen shot arrows at them. Some researchers argue that the way Native Americans viewed the disease, as well as their methods of disease treatment and response to … His ally in this fight was the European germs he and his men unwittingly brought with them. Following victor… Sahagún transcribed the Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Españia ("General History of the Things of New Spain," also known as the Florentine Codex) as it was told to hi… This region was home to the Aztec civilization, an empire of an estimated 16 million people at this time. That reflects me a lot, because if all I was doing was working all day then sacrificing people that would not be a fun life. Source Type: Images. More than three million Aztec succumbed to the disease. Richard Gunderman is a Friend of The Conversation. It came to be prevalent in Teotleco, and it went diminishing in Panquetzaliztli. Indeed many people died of them, and many just died of hunger. First, it killed many of its victims outright, particularly infants and young children. The National History Center’s New Teaching Decolonization Resource Collection - added Mar 19 Foundations of American History Syllabus - added Apr 14 Paper Assignment: Localizing Global Encounters, Case Study: New Netherland/New York (Suffolk County Community College) - added Apr 14 Chancellor's Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University. 1800's Vaccinia virus used in vaccinations against variola 1950 Primary Source Reading: Aztec Accounts of the Conquest. — Indirectly from an infected person. Sores erupted on our faces, our breasts, our bellies; we were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot.”. Direct transmission of the virus requires fairly prolonged face-to-face contact. Happily, worldwide vaccination efforts have been successful, and the last naturally occurring case of the disease was diagnosed in 1977. The Aztecs believed that the gods required human hearts and blood, leading to the sacrifice of thousands of war captives. When Europeans began to explore and colonize other parts of the world, smallpox traveled with them. ... Smallpox spread rapidly among the Aztec warriors and elites. — Its name was smallpox. Sahagún is regarded as a sensitive recorder and translator of the Aztec stories, but it is important to keep in mind that the words you read below have been transferred to paper through the pen of a Spanish interpreter. — Sources suggest that the loss of human life was disproportionately one-sided; during the siege, it is estimated that 100 Spaniards lost their lives, compared to as many as 100,000 Aztecs, many of whom died to smallpox. The Marquis knew that the man of Tenochtitlan was a great warrior. And when they bestirred themselves, much did they cry out. This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook . The Azcapotzalco forces were defeated by an alliance of Texcoco, Tenochtitlan (the capital of the Mexica) and several other smaller cities. Their arrows rained upon the Spaniards. He was the only son of noble, though not wealthy, parents. by . The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. It was in Tepeilhuitl that it originated, that there spread over the people a great destruction of men. - In fighting with the Aztecs, the Spanish eventually had to retreat (glossing over lots of details here), but the infected soldier died. How did the Aztec elders describe the epidemic? They moved there from Texcoco; they went to set forth by way of Quauhtitlan; they came to settle themselves at Tlacopan. Smallpox took its toll on the Aztecs in several ways. He became fascinated with tales of Christopher Columbus' New World explorations. — The ability of smallpox to incapacitate and decimate populations made it an attractive agent for biological warfare. In the meantime a Spanish priest left a description of what happened: Smallpox undoubtedly played a huge part in the fall of the Aztec Empire. Population figures for the indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to colonization have proven difficult to establish. First, it killed many of its victims outright, particularly infants and young children. In 1519, conquistador Hernan Cortes landed on Mexico's Gulf coast and began an audacious conquest of the mighty Aztec Empire. Birmingham, Warwickshire, The Large Hadron Collider and the Hidden Universe Smallpox is caused by infection with the variola virus. Of some, the eyes were injured; they were blinded. Many times he fought, and the Mexicans contended against him. Smallpox existed in ancient times in Egyptian, Indian and Chinese cultures. These two empires came face to face in 1428 CE with the Tepanec War. Part B is an image from the Florentine Codex, a pictorial account of what happened. (Do you think "plague" was an Aztec term?) Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Online talk: Net zero – why and how? 64­66, 129­131. Smallpox is believed to have first infected humans around the time of the earliest agricultural settlements some 12,000 years ago. Although written earlier, The T… These turn into scabs which leave scars. Recalling the epidemic, one victim reported: “The plague lasted for 70 days, striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people. There [the Spaniards] quickly came to reach Nonoalco. Recent investigations have suggested that other infectious agents, such as Salmonella – known for causing contemporary outbreaks among pet owners – may have caused additional epidemics. Smallpox contributed to the decline of the Aztec Empire, in what is now Mexico, following the virus's arrival with Spanish conquerors in 1519. It remained endemic in human populations for millennia, coming to Europe during the 11th century’s Crusades. Before the arrival of Cortés, 30 million people were living in Mexico. When Berdardino de Sahagún, a Franciscan friar who came to Mexico in 1529 as one of the first Spanish missionaries, learned the Aztec language, his superiors directed him to compile a record in Nahuatl of Aztec history and customs. - It took Cortes some time to return to the Aztec capital. The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations. Columbus had set sail hoping t… No effective anti-viral therapies were available. Smallpox took its toll on the Aztecs in several ways. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Smallpox was one of the most devastating consequences of the Columbian Exchange. 2. What story does the image of the epidemic tell? No surviving evidence of it, however, predates the so-called New Kingdom of Egypt, which lasted from about 1570 B.C. In the 18th century, the British tried to infect Native American populations. Twenty-ninth Chapter, in which it is told how there came a plague, of which the natives died. By August of 1521, the glorious city of Tenochtitlan was in ruins. It was at the time that the Spaniards set forth from Mexico. Of course, the Aztecs were not the only indigenous people to suffer from the introduction of European diseases. Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, Spain. Then the Spaniards turned their backs. Painted in the seventeenth century, the eight detailed canvases tell the story of the 1521 Spanish conquest of the native Aztec people. And in Nextlatilco, or Ilyacac, there indeed war first began. What does the pictorial story add to the written description? In 1519 Hernan Cortés sailed from Cuba, landed in Mexico and made his way to the Aztec capital. to 1085 B.C. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. Five hundred years ago, in February of 1519, the Spaniard HernГЎn CortГ©s set sail from Cuba to explore and colonize Aztec civilization in the Mexican interior. There was much perishing. Sahagún transcribed the Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva Españia ("General History of the Things of New Spain," also known as the Florentine Codex) as it was told to him by Aztec elders who had witnessed the events that led to the fall of Tenochtitlán. because the over sacrificing of humans. No such catastrophe actually occurred." Mass vaccination against smallpox got going in the second half of the 1800s. The Spaniards hoped to use the information in his record to convert the Indians to Catholicism. One commander wrote, “We gave them two blankets and a handkerchief out of the smallpox hospital. He got it in the form of a smallpox epidemic that gradually spread inward from the coast of Mexico and decimated the densely populated city of Tenochtitlan in 1520, reducing its population by 40 percent in a single year. Owner: University of New Mexico Press. Because it spreads through infected saliva droplets, smallpox is easily transmitted by face-to-face contact. And on some, each pustule was placed on them only far apart; they did not cause much suffering, neither did many die of them. Smallpox had been introduced to the Aztecs through the Spanish, and during those months the disease killed half of Tenochtitlán’s inhabitants, among them the emperor Cuitláhuac. Cortés men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor. The 1545 cocoliztli pestilence in what is today Mexico and part of Guatemala came just two decades after a smallpox epidemic killed an estimated … More on Teaching the History of the Early Americas. Portsmouth, Hampshire, Copyright © 2010–2021, The Conversation Trust (UK) Limited. The Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has killed hundreds. The Aztecs made Cuauhtémoc the next tlatoani. After helping conquer Cuba for the Spanish, CortГ©s was commissioned to lead an expedition to the mainland. How does the Aztec account compare to that of the "first plague" described by Motolinía? How smallpox devastated the Aztecs – and helped Spain conquer an American civilization 500 years ago February 19, 2019 6.32am EST And many were crippled by it; however, they were not entirely crippled. Directly from person to person. 1796 Jenner shows persons inoculated with cowpox virus are resistant to smallpox. The native people of the Americas, including the Aztecs, were especially vulnerable to smallpox because they’d never been exposed to the virus and thus possessed no natural immunity. Another reason is because Inca was not as worried about religion 24-7 like other civilizations were. Source: History. Called "the speckled monster," smallpox was considered "the most terrible of all the ministers of death." Smallpox endemic in India, spread to China, Japan, Europe, and north Africa. In the meantime, Cortés constructed 13 small ships to launch against the city during his next attack. Helping your child with contamination related concerns, Online talk: Net zero – why and how? 1518 Smallpox introduced to the Caribbean by the African slave trade. Online, Oxfordshire, Angela Saini - Race, Gender and Power There the responsibilities were then divided; there, there was a division. Though vastly outnumbered, he and a small force marched on Tenochtitlan, where Montezuma received them with honor. Pedro de Alvarado's [a lieutenant of Cortés] responsibility became the road coming to Tlatilulco. Richard Gunderman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. After 1570, why was Japan supplanted as the primary source of silver for China? Like a covering, covering-like, were the pustules. At this time this plague prevailed indeed sixty days — sixty day-signs — when it ended, when it diminished; when it was realized, when there was reviving, the plague was already going toward Chalco. The Spaniards hoped to use the information in his record to convert the Indians to Catholicism. Spanish invaders, including Hernán Cortés, who will wage war against the Aztecs, will carry the smallpox inland. Finally, people could no longer tend to their crops, leading to widespread famine, further weakening the immune systems of survivors of the epidemic. The Conquest of Mexico paintings are significant both artistically and historically. Smallpox is caused by an inhaled virus, which causes fever, vomiting and a rash, soon covering the body with fluid-filled blisters. In turn, CortГ©s took Montezuma prisoner. Records confirm there was a smallpox epidemic in 1519 and 1520, immediately after the Europeans arrived, killing between 5 and 8 million people. He wrote The True History of the Conquest of Mexico in the 1560s as a corrective to a very flattering biography of Cortés published in the preceding decade. And the Marquis thereupon threw [the Spaniards] toward those of Tenochtitlan; he followed along the Acachinanco road. No longer could they walk; they only lay in their abodes, in their beds. 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