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The Aztec Empire was a Native American state that ruled much of what is now Mexico from about 1427 until 1521, when the empire was conquered by the Spaniards. The empire represented the highest point in the development of the rich Aztec civilization that had begun more than a century earlier. At the height of their power, the Aztec controlled a region stretching from the Valley of Mexico in central Mexico east to the Gulf of Mexico …

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…them to work in gold mines and on Spanish estates. The fall of Tenochtitlán marked the end of the Native American civilizations that had existed in Mesoamerica since the first human settlement of the region. On the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the Spaniards built Mexico City. The city's present-day cathedral rises over the ruins of an Aztec temple, and the palace of the Mexican president stands on the site of the palace of Montezuma.