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Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
SS6H1 The student will describe the impact of European contact on Latin
a. Describe the encounter & consequences of the conflict between the Spanish & the
Aztecs & Incas & the roles of Cortes, Montezuma, Pizarro, and Atahualpa.
b. Explain the impact of the Colombian Exchange on Latin America & Europe in
terms of the decline of the indigenous population, agricultural change, & the
introduction of the horse.
The Aztecs
 The Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico in 1100s (central Mexico, including
present day Mexico City).
 They wandered about looking for a home site until 1325.
 The Aztecs finally settled on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.
 They built a magnificent city called Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City).
o They built floating islands called “chinampas” by piling rich earth from
the bottom of the lake onto rafts made of wood.
o Roots of plants grew down to bottom, anchoring the rafts
 In the 1400s, Aztec warriors began conquering other people.
o They made them pay taxes; the noble Aztecs grew rich.
o The Aztecs had an emperor; the nobles and priests helped the
emperor—all were very wealthy.
o Not everyone was rich—most people were farmers.
 The Aztec were very involved in agriculture.
o They used chinampas (man-made floating islands) to grow crops of
vegetables, flowers, grasses, and medicinal plants.
o They also hunted and fished.
 The Aztec women spent the day taking care of the children, cooking, knitting,
and doing housework.
 Doctors developed thousands of medicines from plants.
 Astronomers predicted movements of the planets; designed an accurate
 Priests kept extensive records using hieroglyphics.
 Schooling: Boys studied either religion or military skills; girls learned cloth
spinning and cooking.
How did the Aztecs discipline children?
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
 Some punishments included making them inhale smoke, holding them over
fire in which spicy peppers where thrown, and puncturing their skin with
 Cities were religious centers; they worshipped their gods in pyramid-shaped
 Sacrifice was an important part of the religious ceremonies (meant to honor
the gods).
 Polytheistic (worshipped many gods): Sun, Death, Maize, Rulers, Rain, etc.
 Instead of tearing down old temples, the Aztec kept adding levels to the
existing one.
o Rooms for sacrificing are at the top.
 The bath was an important part of daily life--not only to be cleaned, but also to
be religiously purified.
 Most homes had a steam room attached to living quarters.
 Other religious ceremonies included human sacrifices: usually children or
prisoners of war
 They felt that human hearts and blood strengthened the gods
The Inca
 In 1200 AD, the Incas settled in Cuzco, a village in the Andes Mountains (now
in Peru).
o Most were farmers.
 In 1438 AD, Pachacuti became ruler of the Incas and conquered more
 The empire stretched 2,500 miles and ruled 12 million people.
 They used runners to spread news—at a rate of 250 miles a day!
 The jaguar was an important symbol to the Incans.
 Cuzco (capital city) was built in the shape of a jaguar!
 They were excellent farmers, builders, and managers.
 Incans built more than 19,000 miles of roads (over mountains)!
 They also built canals and aqueducts to carry water to dry areas.
o aqueduct—pipe or channel designed to carry water to a distant source;
irrigates dry land
 The Inca cut terraces into the Andes to create farmland.
o They developed a large variety of foods.
o They also discovered ways to store and preserve food.
o The potato was a staple food (due to it being able to grow in the high
altitudes of the Andes).
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
o Other foods: tomatoes, maize, lima beans, peppers, grains
 Incan ruins are some of the most impressive works of architecture in the
o They cut stone with such precisions that each block fit exactly with its
o The fit was so tight, even a thin knife wouldn’t fit in the cracks.
 The nobles conducted a census to count people so they could be taxed.
 They did not have a written language.
 They recorded information on knotted strings called quipus.
o Each color represented a different item and knots of different sizes at
different intervals stood for numbers.
 Like the Aztec, the Inca were also polytheistic.
o The main god was the sun god.
 Sacrifice was a big part of their religion—usually a white llama was used, but
sometimes they sacrificed small children.
 They also believed in reincarnation.
The Fall of the Aztec & Inca Civilizations
 “Conquistadors” = soldier-explorers who settled in the Americas in hopes of
finding treasure
o They were inspired by Columbus to seek fortune in the New World.
o Many came from the part of Spain called Extremadura.
o Poor soil, icy winters, & blistering hot summers held little chance for
o Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro were born in this province.
The Inca Empire
 In the 1530s, the Incan empire was HUGE!
 The Inca thought they ruled most of the world; two threats from the north soon
proved they did not...
o They couldn’t stop the spread of smallpox.
o They couldn’t scare away Pizarro.
 Pizarro was from the Extremadura.
o He was not of noble birth; could not even write his name.
o At age 16, Pizarro fled a job herding pigs in Italy.
o In 1502, he arrived in the Americas and became very wealthy by
exploring Panama.
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
o He heard a rumor that there was a great empire filled with gold in the
mountains of South America…
o Pizarro led 160 soldiers to the Incan homeland.
o They raided Incan storehouses & fired guns at villagers.
o Incan emperor, Atahualpa, thought Pizarro was crazy. How could he
stand up to an army of 80,000 Incan warriors?
o In 1532, Pizarro came up with a plan to defeat the Inca.
 Spanish messengers invited Atahualpa to a meeting.
 He agreed & left most of his army behind--brought only 5,000
 Pizarro’s 160 soldiers attacked the Inca & kidnapped
 Pizarro offered to free Atahualpa if he filled one room with gold
& one with silver.
 Atahualpa kept his end of the bargain, but Pizarro killed him in
o The Spanish king made Pizarro the governor of Peru.
 Pizarro’s conquest of Peru opened most of South America to Spanish rule.
 Spain controlled a vast territory covering 375,000 miles with almost seven
million inhabitants.
The Aztec Empire
 Cortes was a Spanish conquistador who reached Mexico in 1519 in search of
 He arrived in Mexico with only 550 soldiers, 16 horses, 14 cannons, & a few
 His group was met by Aztec emperor, Montezuma II.
 Cortes knew how to use the Spanish horse and guns to shock Aztecs.
 Malintzin (a Mayan woman) gave Cortes the inside scoop on the Aztec
empire & helped him form alliances against Montezuma.
 Cortes had invisible help--diseases that killed more Aztecs than Spanish
 Montezuma believed Cortes to be Quetzalcoatl--an important Aztec god.
 Cortes traveled 400 miles to reach Tenochtitlan.
 Montezuma did not attack right away because he first thought Cortes was
 The Spanish were able to take control of the city & took Montezuma hostage.
 Cortes ordered the Aztec to stop sacrificing people.
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
 Cortes’ orders angered the Aztecs, so they planned a rebellion.
 Fighting broke out & Montezuma was killed.
 The Spanish were outnumbered, so they fled the city.
 Before they could prepare a 2nd attack, smallpox broke out in Tenochtitlan &
greatly weakened the large Aztec empire.
 In 1521, the Spanish destroyed the Aztec capital.
 Cortes took part in one more expedition to Honduras.
 He served as Governor General of New Spain.
 He returned to Spain a very wealthy man.
 He died in Seville, Spain in 1547.
The Columbian Exchange
 The Columbian Exchange is the term used to identify the exchange of goods,
animals, people, and diseases between Europe and the Americas.
 It is called the Columbian Exchange because it began after, and as a result
of, Columbus ‘discovering’ the Americas
 The ‘Old World’ usually means Europe, but can sometimes also include
Africa, because these parts of the world were already known to Europe and
its explorers ~ it was ‘old’ news
 The ‘New World’ means the Americas (both North & South America), because
these lands were ‘new’ to Europe and their explorers who ‘discovered’ these
new lands
 One important part of the Columbian Exchange was the exchange of food
o Cocoa, corn, potatoes, peppers, & tomatoes grew in Central & South
America & were shipped back to Europe
o Coffee, peaches, sugar, & wheat grew in Europe and were shipped to
the Americas
o Having these new crops meant that what people ate, both in Europe &
in the Americas, changed drastically
o Not only did this mean a larger variety of foods to choose from but also
meant a more complete and nutritious diet insuring that people were
more likely to get all of the vitamins, minerals etc. their bodies need to
grow & be healthy
 While many things Europeans brought with them to the Americas were useful
to the natives, often helping to make their lives better & easier, Europeans
also unknowingly brought something else that would devastate the native
population throughout the Americas … Diseases
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
o The Europeans brought with them many diseases that the native
people had never seen or been exposed to before.
o Their bodies did not have immunities (natural resistance) to these new
diseases and their healers did not know how to treat them
o Some of the diseases Europeans brought with them to the Americas
were influenza (flu), measles, small pox, and typhoid fever.
o Between 50% and 75% of the indigenous (native) population of some
tribes in the Americas lost their lives to these new European diseases.
o Far more indigenous people died from these diseases than in battle
with European explorers/conquerors
 Europeans also introduced certain animals to the New World.
o These included pigs, cows, goats, and bees
o The horse was another animal Europeans introduced to the
indigenous people of the New World
o Horses were by far the most important animal the Europeans brought
to the New World
o Horses made it possible for the natives to travel faster and farther than
ever before
o They made trade and travel easier, which made it possible for the
natives to spread their culture and knowledge farther, reaching other
native tribes they had never come into contact with
 This sharing of goods, culture, and information made life better for all people
living in the Americas
 One of the most important results of The Columbian Exchange (the exchange
of goods, people, and diseases between the ‘Old World’ and the ‘New
World’), was a trade pattern called the Triangular Trade
o The Triangular trade was named after the shape that its trade routes,
coming and going from Europe, Africa, and the Americas, made.
o The trade routes of the Triangular Trade carried the goods and people
that were also a part of the Columbian Exchange
o But, the Columbian Exchange was the trading of goods, people, and
diseases between Europe and the New World (it included any
exchange of anything between the ‘Old World’ and the ‘New World’)
o The Triangular Trade were the specific trade routes of specific goods
between specific places
o In the Triangular Trade:
 Raw Materials (examples: cut trees and animal hides that have
not been processed into finished goods that can be sold) are
shipped from the Americas, where they are grown and
Latin America’s History
(Conflict & Change; Movement & Migration)
harvested, to Europe where they will be processed and turned
into finished goods, like rocking chairs and winter coats.
o In the Triangular Trade:
 Manufactured Goods (examples: Rocking Chairs and Winter
Coats) are made in Europe using the raw materials shipped to
them from the Americas. They are shipped from Europe to
Africa, where they will either be sold or shipped to the Americas
to be sold.
o In the Triangular Trade:
 Slaves shipped from Africa to the Americas where they were
forced into slavery, working to grow and harvest the raw
materials that were shipped to Europe