Hernan Cortes


Born around 1485, Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conqueror and explorer who defeated the Aztec empire and claimed Mexico for Spain. He first set sail for the New World at the age of 19. Later, Cortés joined an expedition to Cuba. In 1518, he set out to explore Mexico and in this place he strategically aligned some native peoples against others to overthrow them. King Carlos I appointed him governor of New Spain in 1522 and he died in Spain in 1547.


Personal information

  • When was he born:  Year 1485
  • Where he was born:  Medellín, Spain
  • When he died:  12/2/1547
  • Where he died:  Castilleja de la Cuesta, Spain

Who was Hernán Cortés?

Conquistador Spanish of the Mexican territory, brave, full of ambition and thirst for wealth who, with few means to conquer, used his military intuition and diplomacy to conquer the Aztec Empire .

  • Biography of Hernán Cortés
  • Death
  • What did Hernán Cortés do
  • Conquest of Mexico
  • government
  • Travels and expeditions of Hernán Cortés
  • California Discovery
  • Curiosities

Biography of Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés, also known as the Marquis del Valle de Oaxaca , was born around the year 1485 in Medellín , Spain . Its main role was to help advance Spain into North America in the 16th century. He came from a minor noble family in Spain. Some reports that have been found indicate that he studied at the University of Salamanca for a time.

In 1504, Cortés left Spain to seek his fortune in the New World . He then traveled to the island of Santo Domingo , which was known as Hispaniola . In that place he settled in the new city of Azúa, where he worked as a notary for several years. He later joined an expedition to Cuba which was led by Diego Velázquez in 1511. There, Cortés worked in the civil government and served as mayor of Santiago for a time.

In 1518, Cortés was going to command his own expedition to Mexico , but Velázquez canceled it. Cortés ignored the order and unthinkingly set sail for Mexico with more than 500 men and 11 ships. In February 1519, the expedition managed to reach the Mexican coast .


Hernán Cortés died in Spain, on December 2, 1547 , where he had returned after 24 years of viceroyalty and 36 in the Indies. By his will , his remains were taken to Mexico where he was buried.

What did Hernán Cortés do

Upon arriving in Mexico, Cortés joined with some of the native peoples he encountered there, with some others using lethal force to conquer Mexico. He fought against the warriors of Tlaxacan and Cholula and then set out to conquer the entire Aztec empire . He traveled to Tenochtitlán , the Aztec capital which was the home of the ruler known as Montezuma II . After arriving there, Cortés took Montezuma hostage and his soldiers raided the city. Cortés left town after learning that Spanish troops were coming to arrest him for disobeying orders.

After facing the Spanish forces, Cortés returned to Tenochtitlán, where he found a rebellion in progress. The Aztecs eventually drove the Spanish out of the city, but Cortés returned to defeat them and take the city in 1521 . Due to this situation, King Carlos I of Spain appointed him governor of New Spain the following year.

Conquest of Mexico

When he arrived at the Gulf of Mexico , he realized the existence of the Aztec Empire which was located in the interior, and which was said to have great treasures , for this reason he decided to set out to conquer. His men wanted to go back and avoid the fight because they considered that they were too few, so Cortés sank his ships in Veracruz. Already being in the place, he acted intelligently and achieved the alliance of some indigenous peoples who were subject to the Aztecs, such as the Toltecs and Tlaxcalans.

After dispossessing Cholula, Cortés managed to reach the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, where Emperor Moctezuma II was waiting for him, and he was received in a peaceful way. It is considered that the Spanish were associated at the time with divine beings and Cortés was associated with the god Quetzalcóatl , a situation that gave him great advantage.

Governor Diego Velázquez then sent an expedition so that Cortés was forced to return to Cuba through Pedro de Alvarado who caused a great indigenous revolution against the Spanish because they had carried out a massacre. Cortés had to take Moctezuma II as a prisoner to try to calm the people, but the emperor died, a situation that made Cortés had to return and leave Tenochtitlán, this situation is known today as the ” Sad Night “.

Some time later, he returned and fought against the Aztecs whom he defeated in the battle of Otumba and then was able to take over Tenochtitlán in 1521, building the Spanish city of Mexico.


He was appointed governor general of New Spain in the years 1521 and 1527, and made important conquests. He carried out the refounding of Mexico, using the ruins of Mexico and Tenochtitlán as an ideological submission . It began with the Encomienda distributing land to the Indians and the Spanish. He was also named Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca.

Travels and expeditions of Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés made trips to:

  • The Spanish island
  • In 1518 he participated in an expedition to Yucatán .
  • In 1519 he began his journey to the conquest of Mexico .
  • On October 30, 1533, he set out to explore the Pacific Ocean .
  • In 1539 he made another voyage in the South Sea .

California Discovery

Hernán Cortés is considered the discoverer of the Baja California peninsula , since he was the one who first sighted and landed there in 1534. This was the first colony founded by the Spanish in the territory of California. Some time later, in the year 1602, a new expedition was carried out touring the coast and finding relevant information about the geography , fauna and flora of the place.


Some curiosities of Hernán Cortés are the following:

  • In his will, he asked that his fortune be used to build the Hospital de Jesús .
  • He asked that his body be taken to what he considered his new homeland, the Kingdom of Mexico .
  • He worked interceding to prevent the slavery of the natives.
  • He died powerless and almost in poverty.

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