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How Fighting EndsA History of Surrender$
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Holger Afflerbach and Hew Strachan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693627

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.113) 7 How Fighting Ended in the Aztec Empire and its Surrender to the Europeans
Source:
How Fighting Ends
Author(s):

Ross Hassig

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693627.003.0008

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

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