Like the rest of Mesoamerica, the Occidente experienced enormous social and cultural changes during the late Postclassic period. However, with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in the sixteenth century came the final collapse of most of the native cultures of the Mesoamerican world system. The first news of the arrival of the European invaders in México reached Michoacán in the form of an Aztec emissary who was sent to the Tarascan royal court in late 1519 to seek the cazonci's aid in repelling the newcomers (Martánez 1989:7). However, by that time, rumors of the Spaniards' military might with their horses and firearms had already reached the Tarascan king, who had decided it would be useless to oppose the invasion and thus refused the help requested by the Aztecs (Warren 1989:25-26). Eventually, the Tarascan leader also succumbed to Spanish domination; an event that can be explained, at least in part, by the fact that during this crucial period the cazonci was not sitting particularly firmly on the throne, because of internecine fighting between the king and his principal chiefs. Furthermore, the Tarascans had heard how Spanish troops had massacred the inhabitants of the Aztec capital and that must also have dampened their will to resist their onslaught (Warren 1989:365).
By early 1530, the conquest of Michoacán had been virtually accomplished. On February 14th of that year, the cazonci was condemned to death and executed by the Spanish (Warren 1989:332). In subsequent decades, the other native peoples of the Occidente fell one-by-one before the military might of the invaders, thus bringing an especially important and momentous chapter in Mesoamerican history to a violent, abrupt and tragic end.
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