Hernan Cortes was born in 1485 in a town called Medellin in Extremadura. It talks about little of his child hood and little about his young life except that he studied law at the University of Salamanca. His law school years were cut short in 1501 when he decided to try his luck in the New World. He sailed from Santo Domingo in the Spring of 1504. After he had got there in 1511 he joined he Spanish Soldier and Administrator Diego Velasquez in the conquest of Cuba, and there he became alcalde or mayor of Santiago de Cuba.
In 1518 he persuaded Velasquez to give him command to the expedition of Mexico. Juan de Grijalva, nephew of Velasquez, had discovered the mainland the year before by the Spanish soldier and explorer Fernandez de Cobia and. On February 19, 1519 Cortes set sail west from Cuba even though Velasquez cancelled his pay because of suspicion that Cortes would find himself independent and refuse to take order. Cortes took with him about 600 men, less than 20 horses, and 10 field pieces. Cortes sailed along the east coast of Yucatan and in March 1519 landed in Mexico. Cortes neutralized the town of Tabasco.
The artillery, the ships, and especially the horses awed the natives. From these people of Tabasco Cortes learned about the Aztecs and their ruler Montezuma II. Cortes took lots of captives one of which they baptized and renamed Marina. She became his lover and out of loyalty to him became his interpreter, Translator, Guide, and Counselor. Finding a better harbor a little North of San Juan they established a town called La Villa Rica De La Vera Cruz, which literally translates to The Rich Village Of The Vera Cruz. This was later called just Varacruz.
Cortes did what Velasquez that he would do, and abandoned the authority of everybody except the king and queen. Cortes was a strategical thinker and destroyed his group of vessels in order to prevent small forces from opposing him and returning to Cuba to tell Velasquez. At about this time Cortes started his famous march inland even after negotiations with Montezuma. Montezuma tried to persuade Cortes not to enter the capital city of Tenochtitlan but Cortes was good at not following directions. Cortes overcame the native tribe Tlascalans. This tribe quickly became an alliance to the Spanish because they were enemies to the Aztecs. As the conquest went on this tribe continued to be the most important alliance of the Spaniards. Montezuma pursued an insecure policy during Cortes’s march, and he finally determined not to oppose the Spanish Invaders but to await their arrival at the Aztec capital and to learn more about their purposes.
On November8, 1519, Cotes and his small force and with another 600 native allies entered the city and established headquarters in one of its communal dwellings. There was an Aztec prophecy about the return of Quetzalcoatl, a legendary god-king who was light skinned and bearded. Because of this prophecy Cortes was believed to be a god and was received with honor. The Spanish soldiers were allowed to wander throughout the city at there digression. They found mounds of gold in stalk houses. Despite the friendly reception giving to the Spanish, Cortes had reason to believe that there would be attempts to drive them out of the city. To safeguard his position he took Montezuma as a hostage and forced him to swear allegiance to Charles I, king of Spain and to provide ransom of an enormous sum in gold and jewels.
While Cortes was doing this Velasquez dispatched an expedition under the Spanish soldier Panfilo de Narveas to Mexico. In April 1520 Cortes received word that Narveaz had arrived on the coast. Leaving 200 men at Tenochtitlan under the command of Pedro de Alvarado. Cortes marched with a small force toward the shore entered the Spanish camp at night and captured Narveas and persuaded the majority of the Spaniards to join his force. While Cortes was at work with this Alvarado’s harsh rule had aroused the Aztecs in the capital.
An Aztec revolt against the Spaniards and even their imprisoned ruler was under way when Cortes reentered the capital. He was allowed to enter with his followers and he was allowed to join Alvarado but was immediately surrounded and attacked. At Cortes’s request, Montezuma tried to calm the revolt. Montezuma was stoned, and he died three days later. A Group of Aztecs led by Montezuma’s nephew Guatamatzin drove the Spanish and their allies.
This was done on a dark rainy night called noche triste, which translates to sad night on June 30, 1520. The Aztecs pursued the Spaniards but at Otumba, on July 1520 Cotes defeated a large number of Aztecs and finally reached Tlaxcala. In this town he reorganized his force with the aid of some reinforcements at Vera Cruz. After this Cortes went back to the capital capturing every Aztec outpost along the way. On August 13, 1521 after a siege of three months the new emperor fell and so did Tenochtiltlan.
After this battle Cortes had the capital demolished and he built Mexico City on its ruins. After he had built Mexico City many Spaniards came and this city became of European importance. The confederation built by Cortes did not happen without cruelty to the natives. Cortes became very popular due to his conquests and riches he sent back to Spain. He was named governor and Captain-General of New Spain.
After this in 1524-1526 happened Cortes went on an expedition to Honduras. While this was happening the king sent people to investigate Cortes’s actions. In 1528 Cortes was asked to quit and return to Spain. There he appialed to the king and was created marquis of the valley of Oaxica. There he was reappointed Captian-General but he was not returned to the civil government of Mexico.
He married the daughter of the count of Aguilar and in 1530 he returned to Spain. In Spain he was constantly checked on his activities, all his stuff was confiscated, his rights contested with, and his popularity decaying. In 1536 Cortes found the peninsula of Baja California. In 1539 Francisco would not let Cortes search the seven cities that were there. He went back to Spain to co0mplain about tyhis in court.
In 1541 Cortes went on the expedition to Algiers. This was unsuccessful and there he was shipwrecked. After this expedition the court neglected Cortes and he retired in a small estate near Seville till his death in 1547. He died at the age of 62.