How Fighting Ended in the Aztec Empire and its Surrender to the Europeans

Ross Hassig

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
How Fighting Ended in the Aztec Empire and its Surrender to the Europeans

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The Aztec empire never surrendered. In early flower wars fought to demonstrate military prowess, surrenders were feasible among nobles but not in normal imperial wars. Individually, surrender is difficult to distinguish from capture, as captors had little incentive to accept surrender rather than take captives. Polities, however, did surrender, and could do so at any point, the extent of their resistance affecting their subsequent tribute obligations. But surrender was always a political decision. Yet if the leadership did not surrender after their army's defeat, their city would be sacked and the populace taken captives. Famously, however, Cortes claimed that the Aztecs surrendered to him on 13 August 1521, yet the subsequent sacking of Tenochtitlan strongly contradicts his self-serving assertion.

Keywords: Aztecs; Cortes; empire; flower wars; captives; capture; ritual sacrifices; tenochtitlan

Chapter.  6410 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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