The Spanish conquest of Mexico during the 16th century is one of the most significant events in gold history. Hernán Cortés and his army of conquistadors stopped at nothing to loot as much gold as they could from the ancient Aztec nation. However, “The Sorrowful Night” or La Noche Triste was a pivotal moment of the conquest during which much gold and many Spanish soldiers were lost.
During his expedition, Cortés and his men occupied the city of Tenochtitlan. To protect his men from a possible uprising, Cortés took king Montezuma II as hostage. Although Montezuma assured his subjects that he was living with the Spaniards willingly and that all would be well, the Aztec’s were not entirely convinced. Over the course of six months, they began to resent the occupation more and more.
Eventually, Cortés received news of a large party of soldiers sailing from Cuba to come and arrest him for insubordination. He left Tenochtitlan under the care of his lieutenant, Pedro de Alvarado, to go and confront the Cuban party. After defeating them in battle, Cortés told the defeated soldiers about the gold of Tenochtitlan. Under the promise of riches, the soldiers defected and joined with Cortés to serve as his reinforcements.
However, trouble was brewing back in Tenochtitlan. The Spanish might have gotten the gold they were promised, but at what cost? Find out in our next blog post.