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Video Information and Comprehension Questions

Conquistadors: Hernán Cortés

The following questions appear onscreen in the video. Feel free to integrate them into your lesson plan as needed.


 
Part I
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • The first Europeans who came to America were called explorers. Think about why Spain sent explorers to the New World.
  • As you watch the program, pay attention to how these explorers became known as conquistadors. What did it mean to be a conquistador?
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • The Aztecs were loathed and feared by the Totonaca and Tlascalans. In what ways did the Aztecs alienate their neighbors?
  • How did Cortés use other groups' distrust of the Aztecs to his own advantage? Discuss the merits and the risks of this military strategy.
Suggested activity
Use maps, reference books, and the Internet to create a map of ancient Mexico. Include cities, land formations, and bodies of water. Label the route that Cortés followed from the Yucatan to Tenochtitlán.
 
 
Part II
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • As you watch the program, think about the dangers that sailors faced while traveling to the New World in the sixteenth century. What perils would they have faced on sea and land?
  • Think about what motivated Hernán Cortés and other explorers to make dangerous and financially risky voyages to the New World.
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • Moctezuma II decided to send gifts to the Spanish after learning of their alliance with neighboring peoples. What did he hope to accomplish by sending gifts?
  • Why was his choice of gifts a fatal error?
  • Discuss the Spanish soldiers' reactions to the gifts.
Suggested activity
Imagine you are an Aztec living in the sixteenth century and strange visitors have come to your city recently. Write a diary entry that describes the clothing, speech, and actions of the Spanish.