When the Spaniards, under Hernán Cortés, arrived in 1519, the Aztec civilization was at its height. However, many subject Indian groups, rebellious against Aztec rule, were only too willing to join the Spanish. Initially, the invaders were aided by the fact that the Aztec believed them to be descendants of the god Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma, the last of the independent Aztec rulers, received Cortés, who made him prisoner and attempted to rule through him. The Aztec revolted, Montezuma was killed, and Tenochtitlán was razed (1521). Cuauhtémoc, last of the emperors, was murdered (1525), and the Spanish proceeded to subjugate Mexico.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.