The Fall of the Aztec Empire
The discovery and conquest of the realm of the Aztecs, in the highland heartland of Mexico, is linked historically with the name Hernando Cortes. In 1519 he sailed from Cuba in command of a veritable armada of eleven ships, some six hundred men, and a large number of highly prized, scarce horses. Stopping, landing and re-embarking, he slowly proceeded along Yucatan's gulf coast. In the area where Maya influence waned and Aztec domination began he established a base camp and called it Veracruz (by which name the place is still called).
It was there that to the Spaniards' great astonishment emissaries of the Aztec ruler appeared offering greetings and bearing exquisite gifts. According to an eyewitness, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, the gifts included "a wheel like the sun, as big as a cartwheel, with many sorts of pictures on it, the whole of fine gold and a wonderful thing to behold, which those who afterwards weighed it said it was worth more than ten thousand dollars." Then another, even larger wheel,"made of silver of great brilliancy in imitation of the moon." Also a helmet filled to the brim with grains of gold; and a headdress made of the plumes of the rare quetzal bird(a relic still kept at Vienna's Museum fur Volkerkunde).
These were gift, the emissaries explained, of their ruler Moctezuma to the divine Quetzal Coatl, the "Plumed Serpent" god of the Aztecs; a great benefactor who was forced long ago by the God of War to leave the land of the Aztecs. With a band of followers he went to Yucatan, and then sailed off eastward, vowing to return on the day of his birth in the year "1 Reed." In the Aztec calendar, the cycle of years completed itself every fifty-two years, and therefore the year of the promised return, could occur once in fifty-two years. In the Christian calendar these were the years 1363, 1415, 1467 - and 1519, precisely the year in which Cortes appeared from the waters on the east at the gateway of the Aztec domain. Bearded and helmeted as Quetzalcoatl was (some also held that the god was fair skinned), Cortes seemed to fulfill the prophecies.
To learn more about what happened, you can watch this video from disclose.tv
Fall of the Aztec Empire
Here are some other links:
Latin American History
Cortes as Quetzalcoatl on Wikepedia