Hernan Cortes was a Spanish empire explorer and soldier best known for bringing the Aztec Empire to its knees and bringing much of what is now Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 1500s. In 1485, he was born in Medellin (now Extremadura), Spain, to Spanish nobility Martin Cortes and Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. Hernan was sickly as a child, and at the age of 14, he was sent to study Latin with a relative for two years. He became inspired by Christopher Columbus’s discoveries in the New World. Hernan left for Hispaniola to become a colonist in 1504. In 1511, he joined an expedition led by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar to conquer Cuba.
Hernando Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano was Hernando Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano’s full name. Hernando Cortes was another name for him.
Hernan was unable to travel to the New World as planned in 1502 because he was involved in a relationship with a married woman in which he was injured while fleeing her husband. This pushed back his journey until 1504.
After becoming Governor of New Spain, Velazquez appointed Hernan to a high position (secretary) in the colony.
In 1518, Hernan was appointed Captain-General to an expedition, and when tensions between him and Velazquez grew, he defied orders to cancel the expedition and led a mutiny to Mexico.
In 1519, Hernan claimed the Yucatan Peninsula for the Spanish Crown.
Hernan used his legal knowledge to justify his unauthorized conquest of Mexico.
During his conquest of Mexico, Hernan managed to amass an unauthorized army of 11 ships, 13 horses, 500 soldiers, and several cannons.
Hernan used the divide and conquer strategy to conquer Mexico. He began by pitting native people against each other in Tlaxacan and Cholula. He then made his way to Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital.
Montezuma II was the Aztec Emperor at the time, and instead of fighting, he welcomed Hernan.
Hernan quickly took Montezuma II hostage in his palace and established himself as the indirect ruler.
Velazquez attempted but failed to conquer Hernan in 1521.
Hernan Cortes was officially appointed Governor of New Spain in 1523.
Hernan was forced to return to Spain in 1528, but upon his return to Mexico, much of his power in Mexico was diminished.
Hernan Cortes returned to Spain permanently in 1541.
Cortes spent the next few years attempting to gain recognition for his accomplishments. Throughout his career, he served as the first and third Governor of New Spain.
Hernan Cortes died of pleurisy on December 2, 1547. At the time of his death, he was 62 years old.
Hernan married Dona Juana de Zuniga, with whom he had three daughters and a son. He had children with mistresses as well.
Don Martin Cortes, Dona Maria Cortes, Dona Catalina Cortes, Don Juana Cortes, Martin Cortes, and Leonor Cortes were among Hernan Cortes’ children.
When Hernan Cortes was in the military, he was known as ‘Killer.’