Several weeks later, Montezuma had been succeeded by Cuitlahuac, however the political system was in disarray and the social system was in anarchy. Nevertheless, he succeeded in motivating the Aztecs to mount a successful and complete siege on the Conquistadores. With food and water scarce, the Spaniards and the Tlaxcalans allies attempted to slip out of the city under cover of darkness on what is now known as La Noche Triste, the Sad Night. A sentry sent the alarm and the Aztecs attacked, resulting in over 500 Aztec/Tlaxcalan soldiers either killed or captured and sacrificed. Others, weighted down with the gold and silver loot they had collected, fell into the canals and drowned. A resounding defeat for the Spanish.
Damaged but not entirely disheartened, the surviving Spaniards and their allies retreated back into Tlaxcalan territory to regroup. In subsequent months they healed their wounds, trained and recovered their former zealousness. Devising a new strategy, Corts built a fleet for his next attack. In the January of the final year of the conquest, Cortez and his conquistadores once again came to the heart of the Aztec empire, staging a series of raids and taking the Aztec stronghold at Texcoco, where they could launch their fleet. In May Cortez began his final assault, bearing down with all his force with carefully planned tactics.
Though the Aztecs fought valiantly under the leadership of the last Aztec leader, Cuauhtemoc, they were ravaged by diseases, deprived of fresh water and food supplies after 80 days their emperor was left with no choice but yield, “surrendering August 13, 1521, only after their captured leader grasped the dagger in Cortï¿½s’ belt and pleaded, “I have done all that I could to defend my people. Do with me now what you will.”” (aztechistory.com)
The aftermath of the battle was bloody and a resounding defeat for the Aztecs, and the conquistadors totally destroyed the Aztec empire, erasing the remnants of the culture totally, scorching Tenochtitlï¿½n by fire, and pillaging the temples. The remnants of an ancient civilisation gave birth to the modern Mexico City, and new succeeded old. In the words of a nameless but wise scribe, “Nothing but flowers and songs of sorrow are left here in Mexico.”
After the Spanish conquest and the new Hispanic city was built, the Spaniard’s disgust with the barbaric rites of the Aztecs gave them an excuse to force the Aztecs down to the lowest echelons of Hispanic society. The less than 10 percent of remaining Aztec citizens were forced to convert to Christianity or die. Because the conquest was so complete, only sporadic uprisings occurred until the present day. However, today there are still small communities who celebrate ancient Aztec religion and religious ceremonies, communities that survived in secret through the wave of religious crackdowns. Today still some 20 million Aztec descendants still speak Nahuatl, the Aztec Language and in the Great Temple of Huitzilopochtli, over 6,000 artefacts have been recovered.