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Who Was Hernán Cortes?

Views: 7 | Updated On: | By Gajju Jangir

Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador and governor of New Spain, who lived in the 16th century. He is best known for leading the expedition that brought about the fall of the Aztec Empire and the colonization of Mexico by Spain.

Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, in the province of Extremadura, Spain. He received a good education and became fluent in several languages, including Latin, which would serve him well in his later career. In 1504, at the age of 19, he set sail for the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in search of adventure and wealth.

In Hispaniola, Cortés joined the expedition of Governor Nicolás de Ovando, and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a notary for the colony. He also established a farm and began trading with the indigenous people, the Taínos. In 1511, he joined Diego Velázquez in the conquest of Cuba, and was appointed as mayor of Santiago, the island's second-largest city.

In 1519, Velázquez appointed Cortés as governor and captain-general of an expedition to the mainland of Mexico, which was then ruled by the Aztec Empire. Cortés set sail with around 600 men, a number of horses, and a small number of cannons.

Upon arriving in Mexico, Cortés encountered the Aztecs, who were led by Moctezuma II. Initially, Moctezuma welcomed the Spanish, thinking they were the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tláloc. However, Cortés soon began to make demands for gold and other treasures, and Moctezuma was killed in the ensuing conflict.

Cortés and his men then marched on the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, which they captured in 1521 after a long and brutal siege. The Aztecs, led by their new emperor, Cuauhtémoc, fought fiercely, but the Spanish were ultimately victorious. The fall of Tenochtitlán marked the end of the Aztec Empire and the beginning of Spanish colonization of Mexico.

Cortés was appointed as the first governor and captain-general of New Spain, and he quickly set about consolidating Spanish power in the region. He established a capital at Mexico City, and began the process of converting the indigenous population to Christianity. He also began to build up the economy of the colony by encouraging the cultivation of crops such as sugar, wheat, and cattle.

Cortés also began exploring further into Mexico, and he led expeditions to Honduras, Guatemala, and other parts of Central America. He was also involved in the conquest of Honduras and Nicaragua, but he was eventually removed from power by the Spanish crown due to his authoritarian rule and his tendency to act independently of the crown. He returned to Spain in 1528 and was able to regain some of his lost prestige, but he died in 1547, at the age of 62, in relative obscurity.

Cortés' legacy is a controversial one. On one hand, he is remembered as a brave and daring conquistador who played a major role in the colonization of Mexico and the fall of the Aztec Empire. On the other hand, he is criticized for his brutal treatment of the indigenous population and his ruthless ambition. He is also remembered for his ability to navigate and make use of the complex political landscape of the Aztec empire, which was divided by internal conflicts and rivalries, to his advantage.

In summary, Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador who led the expedition that brought about the fall of the Aztec Empire and the colonization of Mexico by

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