Many are familiar with the popular tale of the meeting between Emperor Moctezuma and conquistador Hernán Cortés. As it goes, Moctezuma mistook the Spanish invaders for gods, thereby setting the stage for the conquest of the Aztec Empire. But how does this compare to what the historical record tells us? In this lesson, students read from two 16th century sources and one contemporary historian's interpretation of the event to answer the question: What happened when Moctezuma met Cortés?

Image source: Illustration of Moctezuma from the Mendoza Codex. Retrieved from the Public Domain Review.


I use a National Geographic video to go with this. You don't have to show the whole thing. You can start at 28:57 and it take about 20 minutes to cover the conflict.
Kids needed some help with Document A because of its length. Documents C & D are tough to understand. I think you need two teachers in the room and the kids in stations to be successful. Maybe do a whole class analysis of Document A and then let them do the rest themselves.
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