Hernán Cortés and La Malinche
Medellín, Spain, 1485-Castilleja de la Cuesta, Spain, December 2, 1547
Hernán Cortés was a Spanish soldier and explorer who became the conqueror of the Aztec Empire and contributed to the Spanish dominance of current Mexico.
At 19 he made his first voyage to the New World, reaching the island of the Hispaniola. In 1511 he joined an expedition to Cuba led by Diego Velázquez and was noted for his courage and boldness, so Velazquez appointed him mayor of Santiago for two terms. In 1518 he decided to travel to Mexican lands despite the refusal of Velasquez and departed with 500 men and 11 ships.
He reached the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in 1519 and began an overland journey to reach the capital of the Aztec Empire. On the way he established the settlement of La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz and formed alliances with several indigenous peoples, with intentions to exploit the enmity between the Aztecs and the conquered peoples. On other occasions he used force to subdue the Indians, so he fought in Tlaxcala and Cholula with the subsequent slaughtering of thousands.
On November 8, 1519, the emperor Moctezuma splendidly received the Spaniards in Tenochtitlan, but after a few days Cortés took Montezuma hostage and together with his men, besieged the city. However, he learned that an expedition was in a quest to arrest him, so he left the site.
Cortés returned to Tenochtitlan in 1521, and after a three-month siege, the city fell to the mercy of the Spaniards. The news of the overthrow of the Aztecs was received kindly in Spain and Charles V granted him a coat of arms and the title of Marquees of the Valley of Oaxaca.
After the conquest, Cortés continued to explore new lands and came to Central America and what is now Baja California. He died in Spain, in search of recognition for his achievements.