The smaller and more similar your group the easier it is to keep up unity and guard for any attempts of outside meddling. How could the natives even approach separate conquistadors to find anyone to be swayed? Aztecs had a big empire over a wide area with a lot of vassals. Cortes could easily approach them and make his sales pitch.
And sure technology played a role. Conquistadors were different, unknown and that made the sales pitch easier to make as they looked more powerful than they actually were. Plus they were a small outsider group. The natives that sided with them likely didnt fear them long term.
Conquistadors were not that alluring to French. They could never hope to do the same thing to a neighbouring country that is both powerful and hates your guts even if they found people willing. Plus a failed attempt like that would have meant retaliation against your own country which would not have been desirable. If their gambit had failed in Mexico there would have been no larger consequences. But it was still seen a lot in medieval europe. 100 year war was full of nobles switching sides like this. Almost a daily occurence in Holy Roman Empire throughout its existence. It was a slow day when one set of Princes didnt betray another set to join a third set to be betrayed and conquered by a fourth set.
I agree. I think what’s coming out in this discussion is that novelty played a role somehow; if only the Aztecs knew more about the Spanish (even if the Spanish also knew more about the Aztecs) things would have turned out differently. This maybe suggests that the Spanish were better at learning about the Aztecs than vice versa—and perhaps this was because they were fewer in number? I think a better explanation is that they had experience doing this sort of thing. They were explorer-conquerors, after all.
Edit: Oh, and there were plenty of opportunities to pit the conquistadors against each other—situations in which some were cut off from the others, situations in which some had been taken prisoner, situations in which they were actively fighting each other!
I agree that their sales pitch was easier because they could make themselves seem more fearsome than they were… but notice that this is in tension with the idea that their local allies didn’t fear eventual betrayal due to their small numbers. The same fearsomeness that makes them good allies should also make them scary enemies, no? So why didn’t the Tlaxcalans fear that they would be overthrown next after Tenochtitlan?
I think the Spain vs. France hypothetical has more to do with technological and knowledge parity than with threat of retaliation.