Hernan Cortes started conquest of the Aztecs with just some hundred males

The Spanish ships anchored within the bay off the shore of Mexico and a severe-looking, bearded man clad in armour got here ashore. Planting a Spanish flag he claimed the land for Spain.

In keeping with some traditions the date was March 13, 1519, 500 years in the past as we speak. It was the beginning of a protracted interval of woes for the native Mexicans. With a comparatively small power, the person in armour, Hernan Cortes, would deliver down the as soon as mighty Aztec empire.

Spain would dominate Mexico for 300 years till the Mexicans lastly asserted their independence within the 19th century. However the title Cortes would without end be related to Spanish oppression.

Cortes was born in Medellin, a city in what’s as we speak Extremadura in western Spain, in 1485, the son of an infantry captain Martin Cortes de Monroy and Dona Catalina Pizarro Altamarino. Each his mother and father have been of noble lineage, however lacked wealth.

Though he was an clever baby, he was additionally haughty, crafty, mischievous and obtained into fights, inflicting his mother and father some fear after they despatched him to review in Salamanca. As a younger man he additionally added womanising to his vices and his distractions from research. He deserted academia in search of journey.

Digital camera IconAn nameless 16th-century portrait of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes.Image: Equipped

At the moment, the largest journey was the exploration of the New World. Cortes sailed aboard a ship for Hispaniola within the Caribbean in 1504, as a colonist. Granted a plot of land for farming he quickly got here below the mentorship of Nicolas de Ovando, who had been appointed governor of Hispaniola and rose from humble farmer to notary.

Cortes contracted syphilis, presumably from one of many slaves assigned to his farm and spent a while recovering from the sickness, which saved him from being killed in disastrous army campaigns launched in opposition to mainland South America.

However in 1511 he was effectively sufficient to participate within the conquest of Cuba, with troops below the command of Diego Velazquez. He turned secretary to Velazquez and was a person of some significance in Cuba, being twice elected mayor of Santiago.


In 1519 Velazquez appointed Cortes the pinnacle of an expedition to Mexico, however later rescinded the order as a result of the 2 males quarrelled. Cortes ignored Velazquez and went anyway, taking between 400-600 males and touchdown at Tabasco the place he frolicked gathering details about the indigenous Mexicans.

Realizing he would seemingly be vastly outnumbered by Aztec troops, Cortes made contact with different native chiefs who had grievances with the Aztecs or with their emperor Montezuma. Convincing the chiefs to combat with him in opposition to the Aztecs, he was additionally given presents by these native leaders. Among the many presents have been 20 native ladies. Cortes chosen one, generally known as Malinche, as his mistress. She additionally acted as interpreter and adviser, and would later bear Cortes a son.

Mexican emporor Montezuma.
Digital camera IconMexican emporor Montezuma.Image: Information Corp Australia

He based his personal city of Veracruz, and both grounded or burnt his ships as a manner of claiming there can be no retreat.

Cortes efficiently used his mixture of superior firepower and alliances with locals to beat the Aztec armies. By November he had made his strategy to the outskirts of Tenochtitlan, Mexico’s capital, with a band of his males supplemented by about 1000 from the Tlaxcaltec folks. Montezuma supplied Cortes all types of monetary inducements to go away, however Cortes marched on town.

In keeping with Aztec customized he was warmly welcomed by the Aztec chief. Montezuma hoped that there can be a chance for him to overpower Cortes and his armies, however as an alternative the Aztec chief was taken hostage by Cortes. However Cortes was quickly confronted by an issue of his personal.

In 1520 Velazquez dispatched a power below Panfilo Narvaez to arrest Cortes for treason. Cortes needed to abandon Tenochtitlan and take his troops to combat Narvaez.

Regardless of being outnumbered, Cortes prevailed and satisfied the defeated troops to hitch him. He returned to Tenochtitlan discovering Montezuma had died after being pelted with stones by his individuals who had then rebelled in opposition to the Spanish.

Montezuma was succeeded by Cuitlauac who carried on the combat till he died from smallpox. He was adopted by Cuauhtemoc who lastly surrendered to Cortes in 1521 and was executed in 1525.

In 1523 Cortes was formally named governor, however he was recalled to Spain in 1528 when it was feared he had change into too highly effective. He later returned to Mexico with restricted powers however after spending time exploring South America he returned to Spain in 1541 and died in 1547.

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