The Aztecs were one of the thriving civilizations that were located in the New World when the Europeans first came. Much like the western civilizations their rise to become a dominant power in the region was gradual and took centuries to develop. When the Aztec civilization collapsed it left a vacuum that would be filled with the Spanish and eventual European powers. These natives would eventually blend into the new rulers of the New World and their heritage and DNA would never be pure again. Here is a look at a timeline of their rise to power and eventual fall.
Aztec Timeline: Migration and Settlement of Mexico
First Nahuatl speaking peoples begin to settle in present-day Mexico
The Mexica travel from their northern homeland of Aztlan. These early dates, and the existence and location of Aztlan are often disagreed on.
The Mexica roam for over a century from place to place until they find a place to settle.
Mexica settle near Lake Texcoco, in Chapultepec, though they are soon expelled by the Tepanecs
Mexica settle in Tizapan, by permission of the Culhuacan ruler Cocoxtli.
Tenochtitlán is settled by the Mexica
Aztec Timeline: Foundations of an Empire
Building of causeways with canals
Death of Tenoch, religious ruler of the Mexica
The first king of Tenochtitlán, Acamapichitli, rules
Original construction of Templo Mayor beings in Tenochtitlán
The second king of Tenochtitlán, Huitzilihuitzli, rules. An alliance with the Tepaneca is created.
The third king, Chimalpopoca, has his relatively short reign. He is assasinated by the Tepaneca.
War with the Tepaneca. Up to this point the Tepaneca had been dominant in central Mexico, ruling from Azcapotzalco and taking tribute from the Mexica.
Establishment of the Triple Alliance between the Mexica, the Acolhua in the city Texcoco and the Tepaneca of Tlacopan. These cities became the foundation of the empire.
Tenochtitlán’s fourth king, Itzcoatl, reigns
Tenochtitlán severely damaged by flooding
Famine in Tenochtitlán
Aztec Timeline: Height of the Empire
Reign of the fifth king, Moctezuma I, who is also referred to as Montezuma I
Tenochtitlán’s sixth king, Azayactl, reigns
Reign of Tizoc, the seventh king of Tenochtitlán
Rule of Ahuitzotl, eighth king of the city
Dedication of Great Temple (Templo Mayor) at Tenochtitlán. This was the 6th version of the temple.
(Christopher Columbus’s landing at Santa Domingo)
Reign of Moctezuma II, or Montezuma II, most famous of the Aztec kings and ninth king of Tenochtitlán
Severe floods in Tenochtitlán
Aztec Timeline: The Fall and Conquest of Mexico
The appearance of a comet, believed to signify impending doom
March 4. 1519
Landing of Hernan Cortes on the Yucatan Peninsula
November 8 1519
Cortes arrives in Tenochtitlán
Cortes allies with Tlaxcala, enemies of the Aztec, assault on the empire begins.
July 1, 1520
The Spanish forces were driven back. The Spanish and their native allies suffered heavy losses. (This is known as la Noche Triste – The Sad Night)
Rule of Cuitahuac, tenth king of Tenochtitlán dies from the first smallpox epidemic to hit the empire. He was the last king of the city
August 13 1521
Tenochtitlán falls to Hernan Cortes and the Spanish. The great Aztec city was destroyed
Rebuilding of the city by the Spanish as Mexico City, capital of New Spain
Cuauhetemoc is hung by the Spaniards