Expanding Contacts : Discovery and Exploration

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This booklet describes the Spanish conquest of the Americas, societies that were organized in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish, the effects of the Spanish conquest in the Americas around the world and discusses the reason for the Spanish colonizing America.
1. Unit 3 Expanding contacts:
Discovery and exploration
The Spanish
conquest of
the Americas
Towards the end of the 15th century, a period of
discovery and exploration began in Europe. In
1492, explorer Christopher Columbus discovered
the islands now known as the Bahamas. This
marked the beginning the Spanish conquest of
the Americas.
Driven by a desire for wealth, power and
territories, countries such as Spain sent
explorers known as conquistadors (conquerors)
in search of new lands and trade routes. When
the Spanish arrived in the Americas, there
were two dominant empires there – the Aztec
Empire and the Inca Empire. Despite their
advanced societies and cultures, the Spanish godless ‘savages’. They quickly set
saw these Indigenous peoples as primitive, to work enslaving their people and
devastating their cultures.
Source 1 An artist’s impression of the capital city of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, before the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. At this
time, Tenochtitlan was home to around 200 000 people. By 1521, two years after Spanish arrival, the Aztec Empire had collapsed and
Tenochtitlan had been destroyed.
How were societies organised in
Why did the Spanish colonise
What were the effects of Spanish
the Americas before the arrival the Americas? conquest in the Americas and around
of the Spanish? 1 Great voyages of exploration were launched by
the world?
Europeans towards the end of the 15th century.
1 Religion was a central part of Aztec society, and
What might have motivated Spanish explorers to 1 Spain ruled a great empire in the Americas for three centuries.
human sacrifices were performed in honour of the
journey through unknown oceans? Suggest how the Indigenous population might have been
gods. Why might they have done this?
affected by Spain’s colonial rule.
390 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 391
2. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
19.1 The Spanish conquest
of the Americas: a timeline
An artist’s impression of Corte’s meeting
1428 1494
A triple alliance is The Treaty of Tordesillas
forged between the is signed. In it Pope 1507 1519
cities of Tenochtitlan, Alexander VI grants all lands ‘America’ is first named Hernán Cortés arrives in the Aztec empire Siege of Tenochtitlan
Texcoco and Tlacopan. to the west of a line in the by the cartographer and enters the capital city, Tenochtitlan
This cements the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, Martin Waldseemüller, 1521
power of the Aztec and all lands to the east of in honour of the explorer The Aztecs are defeated and Tenochtitlan is destroyed after a
Empire. the line to Portugal. Amerigo Vespucci. three-month siege by the Spanish and their allies.
1420 1490 1500 1510 1520 1530 1570 1580
1492 1502 1520 1532 1572
Christopher Columbus arrives Montezuma becomes Aztecs in Tenochtitlan are massacred Pizarro returns with a small The last Inca Empire is
in the Americas, landing in the Aztec ruler. by the Spanish and Montezuma dies. force and captures the Inca defeated by the Spanish,
the Bahamas, Cuba and The Spanish are driven out of the city a ruler. The Inca capital of ending all resistance to
Hispaniola in the Caribbean. few months later. A smallpox epidemic Cuzco falls to the Spanish Spanish colonisation in
sweeps through the region in the same in the following year. South America
year killing thousands.
1517 1530
Hernandez de Cordoba begins to Francisco Pizarro makes
D explore the Yucatan Peninsula and
Mexico’s east coast.
contact with the Inca Empire
Check your learning 19.1
Remember and understand a the arrival of Cortés in the Aztec Empire and the
capture of its capital Tenochtitlan
1 List the Spanish or other Europeans mentioned in
b Pizarro’s arrival in the Inca Empire and the
the timeline and the key events in which they were
capture of its capital Cuzco.
2 What was the name of the Aztec ruler when Cortés Evaluate and create
entered the Aztec Empire? 4 Select an individual from the timeline. Conduct
Apply and analyse some research and write a paragraph that explains
An artist’s impression of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas. their significance in the Spanish conquest of the
3 Use the timeline to calculate the length of the period
Source 1 A timeline of key events during the Spanish conquest of the Americas
392 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 393
3. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
19.2 The major civilisations The Inca
The Inca were originally one of many tribes in the
The Aztec
The Aztecs were a group that originated in the
of the Maya, Inca and Aztec
Andes Mountains of South America, in modern-day north of modern-day Mexico. Aztec can refer to
Peru. They conquered other tribes and, by 1493, the civilisation itself, the people, or just the ruling
the Incan Empire had become the most powerful in classes. The Aztec people called themselves the
the Americas, with the city of Cuzco as its capital. Mexica. By conquering rival tribes, the Aztecs created
Their territories extended for 4000 kilometres on an empire that stretched between the Pacific Ocean
Human occupation of the Americas began when The Maya the western coast of South America (see Source 2). and the Gulf of Mexico (see Source 2). When the
people migrated from the Eurasian land mass They included parts of modern-day Chile, Ecuador, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in 1519,
eastwards, sometime between 40 000 and 15 000 years The Maya was the oldest of the three civilisations. It Peru and Bolivia. To govern their empire, the Inca there were around 489 city-states in the Aztec
ago, during the last great Ice Age. They journeyed on was at the height of its power between 250 and 900 developed an efficient administrative system, an empire, ruled by the powerful ruler Montezuma II
a land bridge between Asia and North America that CE, when the Maya ruled a large area of southern extensive network of roads and strategically built (also known as Moctezuma). The centre of Aztec
existed when sea levels were lower than in the present modern-day Mexico and northern Central America, stone fortresses. They excelled in working metals civilisation was the capital Tenochtitlan.
day. Some peoples moved eastwards and settled across centred around the Yucatán Peninsula. The Mayan such as silver, copper and gold. The Inca built
the northern parts of North America. Others moved people did not have a sole leader or capital city. intricate cities and temples. One of the most famous
further south, into the most southern regions of Each of their cities had its own ruler who governed examples of this is Machu Picchu, perched high on
North America and into South America. There were independently. The Maya were skilled in arithmetic the top of a mountain (see Source 4).
three main civilisations in this region – the Maya, the and astronomy, as well as having their own form of
Inca and the Aztec (see Source 2). Only two of these hieroglyphic writing.
civilisations remained by the 15th century. These
Source 3 A reproduction of a fresco at the Mayan site
were the Aztec, in the region that is now Mexico, and of Bonampak which is know for its well-preerved murals
the Inca, in the region that is now Peru. that detail a single battle and its outcome
Gulf of
Mexico Chichen Itza
ait Yucatán
Str Arctic Circle Tenochtitlan
g Peninsula
Source 4 The restored remains of Machu Picchu
Caribbean Sea
AMERICA Check your learning 19.2
Tropic of Cancer Gulf of AT L AN T I C Remember and understand
OC E AN 1 What were the three main civilisations in the region
Caribbean Sea
D shown in Source 2?
2 In which modern-day countries were the Aztec
Equator and Inca civilisations located?
SOUTH Apply and analyse
Aztec civilisation 3 Suggest some of the key skills and features of
Tropic of Capricorn
Maya civilisation the civilisation that built the city of Machu Picchu,
Inca civilisation based on your observations of Source 4.
N Evaluate and create
of map
4 Use an atlas and Google Earth to examine the
0 1500 3000 km 0 1000 2000 km geographical features of one of the Mayan, Aztec
or Inca civilisations. Describe the main types of
Source 1 Source: Oxford University Press Source 2  Source: Oxford University Press environments within your chosen civilisation, and
suggest how they may have affected daily life.
394 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 395
4. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
19.3 Key groups Commoners
Commoners included farmers, craftspeople,
in Aztec society
merchants and low-level priests. They were expected
to pay tributes to the nobles who owned the calpulli
(neighbourhoods) that they lived in. Commoners
usually ate basic foods and lived in simple homes.
They were not allowed to wear cotton, wear cloaks
The Aztec, Maya and Inca were agricultural societies. Before the longer than the knee, or wear sandals in the presence
arrival of the Spanish, farming life was very different from that of people with higher rank. Commoners could
found in Europe. In the Americas, there was no iron or steel, sometimes become nobles through marriage or
and farmers used digging sticks rather than metal ploughs to bravery in war.
turn up the land. There were no horses, cattle, sheep, pigs or
goats until they were introduced by the Europeans. In Central
America, domestic animals such as turkeys, dogs and guinea
pigs were eaten.
Source 2 The Aztec ruler Montezuma
Source 3 The long feather headdress worn by an Aztec noble
lived in a highly decorated palace and
enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. The Aztec Warriors
emperor ruled with the help of his noble Warriors were highly respected in Aztec society. Most
officials, counsellors, judges and military males in Tenochtitlan were trained to be warriors.
leaders. Women could not be warriors. At puberty, most Source 5 Illustrations from the 16th-century Florentine Codex
young men left their families and went to live in the showing an Aztec man threshing amaranth grain (a food used
Nobles by Aztecs in their religious ceremonies).
local warrior house. Warriors were expected to be
Source 1 Source: Oxford University Press
The nobility included high-level priests, very brave and were taught that it was an honour to
military leaders, landowners, judges and die in battle. There was a formal hierarchy within
Social roles in Aztec society heads of government. Noble status was the warrior group based on how many live captives
passed down from parents to children. (who were later sacrificed to the gods) a warrior had Slaves were owned by nobles or wealthy merchants
Aztec society was organised according to a strict hierarchy
(which means that people had a particular place or class in
society). There were five major social classes: the emperor,
These ruling groups were privileged,
and lived well compared to the ordinary
people. Nobles could receive tribute from
taken in battle. Successful warriors could expect to
receive gifts and riches, but for most it was a part-time
profession. Most warriors had to practice another
and had few rights. Typically, people became slaves
if they were criminals, could not pay their debts
or had been captured in war. Slaves could marry
nobles, warriors, commoners and slaves, and there was little commoners. They lived on their own with their master’s permission and could also buy
trade support themselves.
chance of movement out of the class into which you were born. estates and were the only class other than their freedom. Slave status was not passed down to
All free-born commoners were grouped into clans. Members the emperor allowed to wear decorated children; the children of slaves were born free.
of each clan owned and farmed their land. They were capes and jewellery. The wealthy and
responsible for maintaining their local temples and schools, heroes of war dressed elaborately, with
which every child attended. At the bottom of the social intricate headdresses (often made of
hierarchy were the landless peasants and slaves. Older people feathers), necklaces, earrings and bangles
were also highly respected in Aztec society. made of gold, silver, copper and precious
stones. Their body art included holes
in the ears and split bottom lips. The
At the top of the hierarchy was the emperor. The emperor was nobility would also show their wealth and Source 4 A 16th-century illustration of an Aztec warrior from
an absolute ruler, selected as leader by a council of nobles. He dominance through extravagant feasts the Historia de las cosas de Nueva Espana. The warrior carries
was regarded by the people as a god and the ‘Great Speaker’. He a wooden club and a shield made from feathers, agave paper,
and expensive gifts to each other.
leather and reed.
396 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 397
5. The role of men and women in
Aztec society 19.4 Religious beliefs
An Aztec family was made up of a man, his chief
wife, his other wives, his children and other relatives
such as his parents. Marriages were arranged with
in Aztec society
help from priests, who would consult the stars to
check for suitable matches. Girls married at around
Religion was a central part of Aztec society and would come to an end, so man had to provide
16 years of age and men at around 20 years of age.
dominated almost every aspect of daily life. Aztec nourishment for him in the form of blood sacrifice.
Both boys and girls went to school, although they
gods were demanding and had to be calmed through They welcomed Tlaloc as a god who gave life and
were destined for very different lives. Women were
bloody offerings. The many Aztec gods were sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability
expected to care for children, cook and weave cloth.
responsible for the Sun, warfare, crops, rain, fire, to send hail, thunder and lightning. The Aztecs
They helped to tend home gardens and any other
Source 7 Typical jobs for children in the Aztec Empire including harvests and the dead (see Source 1). decorated their temples for their gods, for example
plots of land the family was given to work. They had fishing, weaving and grinding maize (corn) for tortillas (bread). the temple Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan was decorated
almost no public role. Men were expected to become
with large sculptures of feathered serpents. The name
warriors and seek glory by capturing enemy warriors. Huitzilopochtli God of the Sun and of war
Quetzalcoatl means ‘the feathered serpent god’.
Check your learning 19.3 Tlaloc God of rain, agricultural fertility and water
Every spring the priests flayed (skinned alive)
Aztec discipline Remember and understand Xipe Totec God of springtime and new crops and sacrificed victims to Xipe Totec and then
For Aztec children, discipline was very strict, both Quetzalcoatl God of nature, earth and air paraded in their skins. This symbolised the annual
1 Explain the difference between a noble and a
at home and at school. Punishments included being spring renewal of vegetation or the renewal of the
commoner. Tezcatlipoca God of the night sky, giver and taker of all
speared with the sharp spines of a cactus, being left life on Earth Earth’s skin.
2 What rights did slaves have?
bound and naked in the dark in a cold puddle, or Mictlantecuhtli God of the dead
3 What were some of the punishments given to
being bound and held over a fire to inhale smoke
Aztec children who did not perform their tasks Xiuhtecuhtli God of fire
from burning chillies (see Source 6). Girls were
properly or were disobedient? Source 1 The gods most important to the Aztecs
awakened in the middle of the night to sweep the
4 Why did Aztec warriors capture, rather than kill,
house, and had their fingers cut if they made a
enemy warriors?
mistake in tasks such as weaving. These stories may The Aztecs believed that their many gods gave
Apply and analyse them life. They believed that Huitzilopochtli battled
have been exaggerated by the Spanish, but certainly
discipline was physical. Children were being with the forces of darkness every night so that the
5 Select a source from the unit. What evidence does
prepared for an unforgiving world dominated by Sun would come up the next morning. If ever he
it provide about Aztec society?
demanding gods. grew weak the Sun would not rise and the universe
Evaluate and create
6 Draw a diagram that shows the social hierarchy in
Aztec society, from highest to lowest. Add labels
to outline their roles or occupations.
Source 6 Illustration from the 16th-century Codex Mendoza
provide an account of Aztec discipline for children. Here, a boy
is being forced to inhale dried chilli smoke for disobeying his
Source 2 This turquoise mask represents the Aztec god Source 3 A drawing of the god Quetzalcoatl ‘the feathered
Xiuhtecuhtli, the ‘Lord of Fire’ serpent god’ from the Codex Borbonicus
398 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 399
6. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
Life after death heart was placed in a chacmool Mass sacrifices
Check your learning 19.4
(see Source 5) and the victim was
The Aztecs also believed in life after death. The way Sacrificial ceremonies could involve just one victim or
then thrown down the steep
that Aztecs died, rather than the way they lived, temple stairs. The body was
many thousands at once. For example, when the Temple of Remember and understand
decided what would happen to them in the afterlife. Huitzilopochtli was completed in Tenochtitlan, up to 20 000
picked up and part of it, such 1 What did the Aztecs believe would
If a person died a normal death, his or her soul victims were sacrificed. The prisoners were from a group called happen if sacrifices were not made to
as the thigh, was given as a
would pass through the nine levels of the underworld the Huastecs, from the north-eastern part of what is now Huitzilopchtli?
reward to the victim’s captor,
before reaching Mictlan, the realm of the death god. Mexico. In 1487, they had tried to revolt against the Aztec
to eat. Those who were 2 What was the purpose of a
However, warriors who died in battle and women Empire but had been unsuccessful. As punishment, the Aztec chacmool?
sacrificed were considered
who died in childbirth joined Huitzilopochtli. The warriors marched them back to Tenochtitlan, roped together
to be fortunate, since they
by cords running through a hole in their nose or around their Apply and analyse
dead were buried with goods of all descriptions for were guaranteed a place in
their use in the next life. necks. 3 How do you think the Aztecs felt
the highest heaven reserved
for warriors who died in As they arrived, they were greeted by priests who informed about their gods? What makes you
Human sacrifices battle. them that they had the privilege of dying as an offering at the think this way?
great temple. There were four lines of prisoners that stretched 4 Select a source from the unit. What
Human sacrifices were performed in honour of the full length of the streets leading up to the temple. They were evidence does it provide about Aztec
the gods of the Sun, rain and earth. The most men, women and children, who cried and wailed as they walked religious beliefs?
common form of sacrifice among the Aztecs involved to their deaths. They climbed, stumbled or were dragged up the
stretching the victim over a sacrificial stone. Four
Source 4 A knife used by Aztec Evaluate and create
priests for human sacrifices steps of the pyramid.
priests held the limbs of the victim while another When they reached the top, they were sacrificed by the 5 Choose one aspect of Aztec life from
priest cut open the chest and took out the heart. The priests. One body after another, after the heart was cut out, rolled the list below to research. Create
down the steps of the pyramid. The steps and the priests became a presentation to share the results
of your research, including source
drenched in blood and eventually the blood ran in rivers down
material. Examples of topics to
the pyramid steps.
investigate include:
• agriculture
• calendars and related beliefs
• daily life of rich and poor Aztecs,
including clothing, housing, food
and leisure
• trade and commerce, including
valued products
• warfare, including weapons and
D • gods and religious rituals.
6 Write an account of the sacrifice
depicted in Source 6 from the
perspective of either the sacrificial
victim or one of the Aztec nobles
watching the ritual.
Source 6 An illustration of a ritual killing from the Codex Magliabechiano,
showing victims being sacrificed on the steps of a temple
Source 5 An Aztec chacmool – a reclining human figure with a sacrificial tray on his lap, where the hearts of sacrificed victims
were placed
400 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 401
7. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
19.5 Life in Tenochtitlan
Many of Tenochtitlan’s ‘roads’ were in
fact canals. Six major canals – and many
smaller ones – criss-crossed the city. By
boat it was possible to travel virtually
anywhere in the city. The city was
Tenochtitlan was the capital of the Aztec Empire. It was founded Source 1 divided into four districts. Each district
around 1325 in the Valley of Mexico, now the site of modern- was composed of neighbourhoods called
day Mexico City. Tenochtitlan was built on a marshy site and When we saw all those cities and calpulli, inhabited by commoners such
surrounded by an enormous lake (see Source 2). According to villages built in the water … we as craftspeople and farmers. The crops
legend, the site of the city was pointed out to the Aztecs by were astounded … These great cultivated by farmers included maize
an eagle sitting on a cactus plant. Source 1 shows Cortés’ first towns and pyramids and buildings (corn), tomatoes, potatoes, beans, chillies,
impressions of Tenochtitlan. rising from the water, all made of peanuts, limes and avocadoes. They
As the power of Aztec Empire grew, the entire urban area stone, seemed like an enchanted farmed on chinampas, a clever system of
of Tenochtitlan was carefully rebuilt. By 1519, it was home to vision. artificial islands built on the shallow parts
200 000 inhabitants on an island of about 8 square kilometres. of the lake and joined together. Canoes
Extract from a letter by Cortés,
This was at a time when Spain’s largest city, Seville, had a describing his arrival in Tenochtitlan.
took sewage from the city’s public toilets to
be used as fertiliser on the chinampas.
population of 70 000.
The rebuilt city was laid out on a grid pattern, with ‘roads’ The centre of commerce was the huge
running north–south and east–west. In Aztec mythology each market square, where 60 000 people a day
of the four main points of the compass had important religious Source 2 An artist’s impression of the great city came to buy and sell. There was also a
of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. sacred precinct in the centre of the city,
significance, each with its own gods, rituals and colours. Because Tenochtitlan was built on a marshy site in the
it mirrored the path of the Sun, the east–west axis was the most surrounded by a wall. Within this precinct
Valley of Mexico in the middle of Lake Texcoco.
important one. were temples, public buildings, palaces and
plazas. Over everything loomed, the Great
Temple or Templo Mayor (see Source 4). The Source 3 A copy of an illustration taken from a manuscript shows the chinampa
system used by the Aztecs to construct the gardens for the city of Tenochtitlan.
blood on its stairs from human sacrifices
was visible from a great distance.
The Valley of Mexico did not have all
the requirements to keep a city the size
of Tenochtitlan running. For example,
cotton could not be grown in the valley,
nor could most food. There was also
very little land in the valley to farm.
For Tenochtitlan to survive, it relied
D on supplies from villages and societies
outside the city. Some of the supplies were
purchased through trade, but much of the
city’s wealth and many of its goods were
brought in from other parts of the empire
through the tribute system. Tributes were
the taxes that surrounding populations
within the empire were forced to pay
to the Aztecs. Each year, Tenochtitlan
received 7000 tonnes of corn, 4000 tonnes
of beans, 4000 tonnes of amaranth grain
and 2 000 000 cotton cloaks. Tributes
also included huge amounts of feathers,
precious stones and metals, cacao beans
(the seed pod from which cocoa is made),
Source 4 An artist’s impression of the marketplace in Tenochtitlan with
tobacco and chocolate. Templo Mayor in the background
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8. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
Daily life in the Aztec capital 1 3
Nobles dressed elaborately, with colourful The Templo Mayor (Great Temple) dominated
clothing, jewellery and headdresses. For the the city. Huge numbers of people – and
poor, clothing for men was typically a length sometimes animals – were sacrificed at an
of plain cloth wrapped around the body and altar atop this pyramid to please the gods.
knotted on one shoulder. Women wrapped a
piece of cloth around their hips and legs 4
(much like a skirt), and added a loose top. A popular game involved the use of elbows,
knees and hips to flick a rubber ball through a
2 stone hoop on the wall. Sometimes the defeated
The markets were the lively centre of the city. team lost their lives as well as the game!
Merchants travelled great distances to the
markets, by foot or canoe, to sell goods such 5
as feathers, rubber, animal skins and foodstuffs. A poor farming family’s home on a chinampa
(artificial island) was made of mud brick, and
its roof was made of reeds.
Maize (corn), the staple food of the Aztecs,
was ground into a course flour to make
3 tortillas, flat bread to wrap around vegetables
and meat.
Check your learning 19.5
Remember and understand
1 Describe Tenochtitlan’s location.
2 What was Tenochtitlan’s population
in 1519 and how did this compare to
Spain’s largest city?
Apply and analyse
3 Explain why the tribute system was
necessary for Tenochtitlan’s survival
and suggest what happened if a
D 6 group did not pay tributes.
Evaluate and create
4 Research to find out how the Aztec
2 built chinampas. Present the results of
your research as a step-by-step guide
to constructing a chinampa, including
images and sketches.
Source 5 An artist’s impression of daily life in
404 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 405
9. 19A How were societies organised in the Americas before the arrival of the Spanish?
19A rich task
The Florentine Codex was completed over the Source 3 Step 2 Evaluating usefulness
decades from 1549 to 1579. The 12-volume work
Life in the
To evaluate the usefulness of a source you
was compiled by a Spanish priest together with Midwife’s address to newborn boys: should ask the following questions:
Indigenous writers and illustrators. It includes more • What question am I investigating?
Aztec Empire than 2000 painted illustrations, and documents the
culture and religious practices of the Aztecs at the
time of the Spanish conquests.
My precious son, my youngest one … heed, harken: thy
home is not here, for thou art an eagle, thou art an ocelotl
[a jaguar] … Thou belongest out there … Thou hast been
• Is the source reliable?
• What messages is the source
conveying – both explicit and implicit?
In the 16th century, Spanish explorers created The Codex Mendoza was commissioned by sent into warfare. War is thy desert, thy task. Thou shalt
• What is the source saying or showing
Spanish rulers in 1541 to create a record of the give drink, nourishment, food to the sun, the lord of the
many illustrated accounts of daily life in the Aztec Empire. Illustrations were drawn by Indigenous
that will assist me to answer my
earth. Perhaps thou wilt receive the gift, perhaps thou wilt
historical question?
Aztec Empire so that people at home in Spain artists, with explanations written by Spanish priests. merit death by the obsidian knife [be killed as a sacrifice
• What additional information would I
could get a better understanding of traditional The Codex Magliabecchiano was another Aztec to the gods].
like that would help me to answer my
codex created as a religious document in the mid-
culture. Each of these written accounts was Midwife’s address to newborn girls: question?
16th century.
bopund together to make a special kind of Apply the skill
Thou wilt be in the heart of the home, thou wilt go
book known as a codex (plural codices). 1 Examine the three sources. What do they
nowhere, thou wilt nowhere become a wanderer, thou
These codices (such as the Florentine Codex tell you about the role and expectations of
becomest the banked fire, the hearth stones … And thou
men and women in Aztec society?
and the Codex Mendoza) have provided wilt become fatigued, thou wilt become tired; thou art to
2 How are these ideas conveyed?
valuable information to historians about how provide water, to grind maize, to drudge; thou art to sweat
by the ashes, by the hearth [the floor of a fireplace]. 3 How reliable are these sources and why?
the Aztec people lived beofre the arrival of 4 Whose voices have not been heard in this
Part of the addresses given by midwives to newborn boys and girls as
the Spanish described in the Florentine Codex
collection of sources? How do you explain
5 Using books in your library, or the internet,
skilldrill: Historical sources as evidence locate another written source and another
visual source that reflects additional
aspects of life in the Aztec Empire before
Analysing primary sources the arrival of the Spanish. Explain how
each adds to your understanding of life in
Primary sources are records produced during the period that is being
this period.
studied. They may be written documents such as letters or visual
sources such as paintings and buildings. It is the job of historians
D to examine these sources and come to conclusions about their
usefulness and reliability.
Extend your understanding
Step 1 Evaluating reliability Choose a civilisation in the Americas, other
It is important to identify, if possible, who created each source and than the Aztec, and locate three primary
the reason why it was created: sources for that society.
• Who created the source? 1 For each source, identify one feature that
• Why was the source created? helps you to understand an aspect of the
• Is there a possibility of bias? society.
2 Explain which source you believe to be
• What message does the source convey?
the most reliable and why. Support your
• What is included and what is excluded?
answer with reference to the source itself,
Source 2 Illustrations from the 16th-century Codex Mendoza Source 1 Illustrations from the 16th-century Codex • What can the source tell you about life at the time that it
shows punishments for disregarding instructions from a parent – Magliabecchiano detail religious practices, such as who produced it, when it was produced
was created?
being forced to inhale dry chilli smoke and being forced to lie on sacrifices, that were a part of Aztec life. This illustration and for what audience.
damp ground with bound hands and feet. shows an Aztec priest offering a human heart to the war
god Huitzilopochtli.
406 oxford big ideas humanities 8 victorian curriculum chapter 19 the spanish conquest of the americas 407