Home History Hernán Cortés, the great conqueror of the Aztec Empire

Hernán Cortés, the great conqueror of the Aztec Empire

Hernán Cortés, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, was a Spanish conquistador (soldier and explorer) who conquered the vast Aztec Empire in Central America.

Hernán Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, in western Spain. He initially studied law, but left university to make his fortune in the Americas.

Hernán Cortés

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Synopsis of life Hernán Cortés

Born around 1485, Cortés was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who defeated the Aztec empire and claimed Mexico for Spain.

He first set sail for the New World at the age of 19. Later, Cortés joined an expedition to Cuba.

In 1518, he left to explore Mexico. There he strategically lined up some native peoples against others to overthrow them.

King Charles V appointed him governor of New Spain in 1522. Cortés died in Spain in 1547.

Biography of Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés, helped advance Spain’s position in North America in the 16th century. He came from a minor noble family in Spain. Some reports indicate that he studied at the University of Salamanca for some time.

In 1504, Cortés left Spain to seek his fortune in the New World. He traveled to the island of Santo Domingo, or Hispaniola.

Installed in the new city of Azua, Cortés served as a notary for several years. He joined a Cuban expedition led by Diego Velázquez in 1511.

Cortés worked in the civil government and served as mayor of Santiago for a time.

On this island and became famous for his courage and boldness.

In 1518 Cortés persuaded Velázquez, now governor, to appoint him commander of an expedition to Mexico. The Europeans had just discovered it and it was rumored to contain great wealth in gold.

Shortly before Cortés set sail, Velázquez, who now suspected his motives, cancelled his commission. Cortés ignored Velázquez and left.

Explorations of Cortés

In 1519, Cortés left Cuba with about 600 men and headed to the Yucatan region of Mexico. He first arrived in Cozumel, and began exploring the land for colonization.

He found natives and their great pyramid. Noticed the bloodstains and human remains, and discovered that this pyramid was used for human sacrifices to their gods.

Dismayed, Cortés began his efforts to convert the natives to Christianity. He destroyed their idols and replaced them with crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary. Cortés relied on native translators and guides to communicate with the natives and to travel the land.

Shortly thereafter, Cortés and his men set sail and arrived in Tabasco. Here, Cortés and his men confronted the natives.

On March 25, 1519, in the Cintla Valley, the two sides fought a battle known as the Battle of Cintla.

The natives could not compete with the weaponry and armor of the Spanish soldiers. 800 Tabasqueños were killed; only 2 Spanish men were killed.

The people of Tabasco swore their loyalty to Spain and gave Cortés gold and slaves.

La Malinche

One of the chiefs gave Cortés a slave named Malinche. She was bilingual, so she spoke both the Aztec and the Mayan languages, which made her very useful to Cortés.

He finally learned Spanish, and became Cortés’ personal interpreter, guide and lover. They had a son named Martin. Having conquered the Tabasco people, Cortés moved to the coast ofTlaxcala

A ruler in the city of Tlaxcala, saw an ally in Cortés, and an opportunity to overthrow the capital city of Tenochtitlán.

They formed an alliance, and Cortés received several thousand warriors to add to his ranks. By this time, Cortés’ men were beginning to complain about Cortés.

He continued to ignore Velázquez’s orders to return to Cuba, and the men felt he was overstepping his authority. Fearful that his men would leave, Cortés destroyed all the boats. With nowhere to go, the men followed Cortés to Tenochtitlán.

Hernán Cortés and the fall of Tenochtitlan

The fall of Tenochtitlan, capital of the Mexican Empire, carried out through negotiation between local factions and existing anti-Aztec divisions and the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés.

Many battles existed between the Aztec armies on the one hand and the Spanish on the other, which was mostly composed of indigenous people based on the alliance with the lords of Cempoala, Texcoco and Tlaxcala.

Conquered the Aztecs

Cortés headed for the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, which was a three-month journey through difficult terrain.

It is believed that Cortés’ arrival coincided with an Aztec prophecy about a white-skinned god coming from the east, which would explain why Montezuma welcomed Cortés and gave him generous gifts.

However, relations deteriorated rapidly and, fearing an attack, Cortés took Montezuma hostage, demanding a huge ransom for his people.

In April 1520, Velázquez sent an expedition to arrest him for disobeying orders.

When Cortés left to fight Velázquez’s expedition, an Aztec revolt began in Tenochtitlán.

Cortés returned and forced Montezuma to face the crowd, but the Aztec leader was hit by a stone and died. The Spaniards were expelled from the city, suffering great losses.

Cortés reorganized his forces and in 1521 returned to Tenochtitlán, which fell after a three-month siege.

A new settlement, Mexico City, was built on the ruins and settled with the Spanish colonists, becoming the center of Hispanic America.

Cortés secured control of Mexico, inflicting great cruelty on the indigenous population. Western diseases such as smallpox also caused great deaths.

In 1523 King Charles I of Spain (also known as the Roman Emperor Charles V) appointed him governor of New Spain and captain general of New Spain.

Editor’s Note

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Death of Cortés

Several years after his conquest of Mexico, Cortés endured many challenges to his status and position.

In 1528, amidst Spanish fears that he was becoming too powerful, he was forced to return to Spain, where the king reinstated him as captain general, but not to the post of civil governor.

Cortés went to Spain to meet with the Spanish king to claim his title, but he never recovered it.

Upon his return to Mexico, his powers were significantly limited and his activities monitored. He continued to explore Central America, hoping to find a strait from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He failed, instead discovering and naming California.

Cortés retired to Spain as a bitter man in 1541. He died seven years later on December 2, 1547 in his home in Seville from a lung disease called pleurisy.


Hernán Cortés remains one of the most successful Spanish conquerors. He was a warrior in the 16th century, but history remembers him differently.

He had many conquests during his life. But he is perhaps best known for his conquest of the Aztec Empire in 1521. He enslaved much of the native population, and many of the indigenous peoples were eliminated from European diseases such as smallpox.

He was an intelligent and ambitious man who wanted to appropriate new lands for the Spanish crown, convert the native inhabitants to Catholicism and plunder the lands in search of gold and wealth.

However, we still recognize their role in history. He helped oversee the construction of Mexico City, which is still the capital of Mexico today. He opened the door for further exploration and conquest of Central America to the south.

Biography Summary

Full Name?

Hernán Cortés de Monroy and Pizarro Altamirano

When was Cortés born?

Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, in western Spain.

What studies did Cortés have?

He studied Latin, grammar and law in Salamanca.

Who were Hernan’s parents?

Martín Cortés de Monroy

Catalina Pizarro Altamirano.

The children of Cortés

Martin Cortes

Martín Cortés Zúñiga

Luis Cortés and Ramírez de Arellano

What is the name of Cortés and Malinche’s son?

Martín Cortés Zúñiga

When and how did the Malinche die?

She was murdered in Moneda Street, in the early morning of January 29, 1529.

When did she die?

On December 2, 1547

How was the death?

Of lung disease called pleurisy.

How old was Cortés when he died?

62 years old

Where are the remains?

In a crypt embedded in a wall of the Church of Jesus the Nazarene, located above República del Salvador, in the Historic Center of the CDMX.

When does Hernán Cortés arrive in Mexico?

Cortés, arrived at the beaches of Veracruz in our current territory, during the Holy Week of 1519.

What was the most important thing you did?

  1. He participated in the conquest of Cuba in 1511.
  2. He founded the city of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (Veracruz) in 1519.
  3. Cortés made alliances or fought bloody battles with those from whom he received denials.
  4. In 1520 he conquered the city of Tenochtitlan causing the fall of the Aztec empire.
  5. He sent military expeditions south to conquer the Yucatan, Honduras and Guatemala and north to conquer the rest of Mesoamerica and the South Sea coast.

Celebratory Phrases of Cortés

  1. It is better to die with honor than to live with dishonor.
  2. “As God lives, I tried.
  3. “How can anything good come if we do not return for the honor of God, that is, if we do not immediately fulfill our duty as Christians and civilizers?
  4. “In special circumstances, the deed must be faster than the thought. “
  5. “So that’s it, go ahead in good time.”

10 Curiosities of Cortés

  1. Cortés was a distant cousin of Francisco Pizarro, the explorer who conquered the Inca empire in Peru.
  2. Cortés’ family was noble but not extremely rich.
    He died without power and almost in poverty.
  3. Cortés had been living in America for 15 years when he first set foot in Mexico.
  4. He created the first hospital in America (Hospital de Jesús), still in force in the historical center of the CDMX.
  5. He learned Nahuatl from La Malinche.
  6. Hernan Cortés built a house in Coyoacán for La Malinche. Currently, this house is located at 57 Higuera Street.
  7. As a young child, Cortés was frequently ill.
  8. At the age of 14, he was sent to the University of Salamanca to prepare for a career in law.
  9. Cortés was also prosecuted for the mysterious death of his first wife, Doña Catalina Xuárez, being the main suspect in a trial.
  10. was also responsible for the exploration of Honduras, the discovery of California.

Not from the editor

Currently, there are about 500 people who are considered direct descendants of Montezuma.

Currently it is forbidden to take pictures or to do tourism in the church. The church, located in the avenue of the historical center of the CDMX, seems half abandoned. Three meters from the floor of the church of Jesus the Nazarene, is the plaque that marks the place where the conqueror rests. It is made of orange metal.

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