Cortes valued it for '3,800 gold pesos [about "pieces of eight"]. 'The amount was more than the king of Spain made in a year, but Cortes knew how valuable gold was to the Mexicans. He had the emperor's permission to take it. As soon as he reached Cuba, he sent part of his army back with the ship to Mexico City with the treasure.
'After paying his men, buying food and supplies, and other expenses, there was still a large amount left over. This he gave to the emperor because the gold came from taxes on his subjects. The emperor should have got half but instead spent most of it on gifts for his friends. Still, it was enough to pay the soldiers' wages for several months.
So, in broad strokes, Cortes and his soldiers escaped with 200 gold objects—a sizable loot, but perhaps not as great as some have believed throughout the years. They also left behind some horses, which were worth about as much as the men riding them.
The exact number of grams of gold is hard to calculate. The only thing we know for sure is that it was a lot - more than what most countries can afford to spend these days. Back then, however, it was a pretty good deal - enough money to pay for two or three ships full of soldiers.
According to one account, written by an Englishman who saw the plates in Spain after the conquest, the amount taken was "more than 20 thousand pounds sterling". Another estimate puts the figure at about 75000 pounds - which would be around $150 000 in today's market.
Some scholars believe the number may have been greater than this, but none of the estimates take into account losses due to theft over the years. For example, in 1695 a major fire destroyed most of Mexico City, including the city hall where the original records of the government were stored. No details of this disaster have survived, but based on other disasters in the city's history we can assume it was significant.
At the time, the Spanish were thought to have amassed some 8,000 pounds of gold and silver, not to mention a plethora of feathers, cotton, jewels, and other valuables.
The Spanish weapons, particularly its armour and firepower, was a major factor for their triumph. Cortes' Indian allies, such as the Tlaxcalans, who made up the majority of his united force, were maybe the most crucial cause of all.
They concluded they couldn't hold the city any longer and opted to leave on June 30. But what should be done about the treasure? At the time, the Spanish were thought to have amassed some 8,000 pounds of gold and silver, not to mention a plethora of feathers, cotton, jewels, and other valuables. This was far more than the 150 soldiers could carry so they left it behind. It later turned out that this was just half of the treasure; the other half was abandoned in the city when the army fled.
In 1540, the first English ambassador to Spain, Sir Antonio de Mendoza, arrived with a request from King Henry VIII for the return of the treasures left by the Spaniards in England after the Battle of Brentford. The king wanted the gold for his own court and the jewels for his new bride, Catherine of Aragon. A deal was brokered where in return for the loan of 50,000 pounds (then equal to nearly $1 million today), the English would get access to the gold and the jewels. Both sides complied with the terms of the agreement and the treasures were sent home.
Cortes's gold was worth only 3,750 pounds ($11.5 million in today's money) but it made up half of the estimated value of the treasure lost at Tenochtitlán. The other half was made up of items such as feather coats, jeweled necklaces, golden statues, and other goods too numerous to list.
This copper tajadero (Spanish for "chopping knife") was a type of money used in Central America and central Mexico. This standardized, unstamped currency, often known as Aztec hoe or axe money, had a set value of 8,000 cacao seeds—the other prevalent unit of transaction in Mesoamerica. It was used for buying food, slaves, and materials for making clothes and tools.
The Spanish introduced many aspects of their economic system to Mexico including coins, bills, taxes, banks, and markets. However they did not adopt the cacao seed as a means of payment because it had no value outside of Mexico. Instead, they used silver coins that were taken off of shelves where retailers kept them in stock to meet the needs of their customers. These coins were legal tender in both Spain and Mexico so there was no need for merchants to mark them down in price.
There were no interest rates in Mexico because all loans were at 100 percent per year. If a person wanted to save their money instead they would roll it over into another loan from the same lender. This practice created lots of problems for the banking industry because many people would never pay back their debts and this caused many businesses to fail.
Mexico's economy was based on agriculture and mining before the arrival of the Europeans and after their departure both sectors have continued to suffer financial setbacks.
Hernan Cortes de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca (1485–December 2, 1547), was a Spanish Conquistador with a $100 million net worth. He has been called "the father of Mexican nationalism" for his role in the discovery and conquest of Mexico.
When you include his salary, Hernan Cortes was paid about $72,000 pesos. At that time one peso was equal to 20 centavos or 1/20th of a real. So his income was equivalent to about $543,000 in today's dollars.
In 1525, he was given charge of an expedition against Cuba where he fought many battles against the natives before returning home in 1527. He then led another expedition into Mexico where he defeated several tribes until his death at age 45. His body was brought back to Spain for burial but no tomb was erected over it because he had no children or close relatives who could be notified.
During his lifetime, he earned enough money to become one of the richest men in Europe.
After his death, his estate was worth $20 million dollars, which is more than $200 million in today's dollars.
His salary was very high for its time and he managed to save most of it.
They mostly utilized cacao beans and, later, Spanish coinage. They also frequently utilized linen and copper "axe money," as explained in this post. The Aztecs knew Cortez was hunting riches, so they presented him a chest full of gold-encrusted plates that occurred to resemble large coins. He took them for fake, but when he opened the chest it turned out there were real plates inside.
Modern researchers have found evidence that the ancient Mexicans did use small bronze disks called "monies" to pay their servants and for other expenses. These items could be used like cash today.
In addition to coins, the Spanish also brought cotton cloth money to Mexico. This paper currency was used by merchants to record transactions or as savings instruments. It could also be used like cash.
Finally, there are examples of clay tablets with written instructions on how to make objects such as knives, needles, and mirrors. These instructions were often included with slaves or merchandise sold by weight rather than price. The Mexican ancients used these objects as forms of currency.
Thus, the Aztec people used several different methods to exchange goods and services without using real coins. They may have been able to do this because they got along quite well without any form of currency!