Friday, March 02, 2007
Hernando Cortez, conqueror of mexico for the Spanish
Cortés was part of the generation of European colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Born in Medellin, Extremadura, in Castile, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés as a young man chose to win a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and for a period became mayor of a small town.
In 1519 he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar resulted in the latter calling back the expedition in the last moment, an order which was ignored by Cortés in an act of disobedience.
Arriving on the continent Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also successfully used a native woman, Doña Marina, as interpreter. Later, she would bear Cortés a son.
When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés he fought them and won and used the extra troops as reinforcements. Instead he wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny.
When the Aztec empire was overthrown Cortés was awarded the title of Marques del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious titles of Viceroy was given to relatives of the king. Cortés returned to Spain where he died peacefully but embittered.