The Malinche

La Malinche or Malinalli Tenépatl , was a renowned Mesoamerican Indigenous who served as Interpreter and companion of Hernán Cortés , and who at the same time managed to play a very important role in the process of conquering Mexico.

Personal information

  • When was he born:  Between 1496 and 1501
  • Where he was born:  Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
  • When he died:  Mexico City, Mexico
  • Where he died:  Between 1526 and 1529

Who was Malinche?

La Malinche was an indigenous woman whom her parents gave as a child to a group of Spaniards . She was known by Hernán Corté s who fell in love with her and who put her to work as an interpreter and translator during the conquest period.

  • Biography of La Malinche
  • Death
  • What did the Malinche do
  • La Malinche and Hernán Cortés
  • Child
  • Origin of the name of La Malinche
  • Legend

Biography of La Malinche

Malinalli Tenépatl, was born between 1496 and 1501 , in Coatzacoalcos , Veracruz. Daughter of a high-class indigenous family from a town called Painala . When she was a child, her parents gave her to a chief of the state of Tabasco , after a confrontation that her family lost, and following the custom of that moment, they had to give the girl to the winner .

In the year 1519, the Cacique of Tabasco was defeated and gave Cortés several women, including Malinalli . She had a son with Cortés whom she named Martín . In the year 1524, Malinche went to Honduras with Cortés, but he began to push her aside, so in the end she was united with Juan Jaramillo.


After separating from Cortés, Malinche disappeared from history and became a legend. The date and place of his death are not yet known. Some people think that he stayed in his Tabasco lands and there are those who think that he died between 1526 and 1529.

There is another group of historians who, taking calculations, think that he died between 1526 when he returned from Las Hibueras. Others affirm that he died in 1529, according to the documents of the steps taken by his widower, Juan Jaramillo, to remarry. Apart from those few data, everything else is speculation.

What did the Malinche do

La Malinche worked as an interpreter for the Spanish so she was a means of communicating with the ethnic groups of Mesoamerica and forming alliances against the Aztec empire. She also played a very important role during the conquest of Mexico as she acted as an interpreter, advisor and intermediary for the Spanish conquerors.

La Malinche and Hernán Cortés

They met on March 15, 1519 after a confrontation with the chief Tabscoob , who lost the battle and in recognition of his loss brought women to serve in domestic tasks and as cooks . One of these women was Malinalli . Cortés fell madly in love with her and removed her from domestic service, claiming that she knew a different language and could work as a translator .


Martín Cortés Malintzin was the name of the first – born son of Hernán Cortés with Malintzin , better known as “la Malinche” who served as the interpreter of the conqueror. He was declared a legitimate son by the papal Bull of Clement VII in 1528 .1

Being the son of a Spaniard and an indigenous woman, he is considered one of the first mestizo children to be born in New Spain . According to Federico Gómez de Orozco, a renowned historian and descendant of Martín Cortés, explains that after the death of Hernán Cortés’ first wife, in November 1522, he also received the news that he was going to be a father. .

Taking into account these data, we can conclude that Malintzin had her son at the end of the year 1523 or the beginning of the year 1524. Little is known about his life as he was separated from his mother and given to the lawyer Juan de Altamirano.

Later, Martín went to Spain with his father, where he took the habit of the order of Santiago . In 1529, Cortés obtained from Pope Clemente VII the legitimation of his natural children: Catalina Pizarro, Luis de Altamirano and Martín .

In 1542 new laws were promulgated that did not allow the Spanish to inherit their encomiendas, so a revolt known as the conspiracy against Martín Cortés was raised. These acts were denounced to the viceroy and were seen as acts of vandalism and sentenced to death. The Ávila brothers were beheaded in the courtyard and others were sent to cells where they were locked up. Martín Cortés was subjected to torture to make him confess, however, he never revealed anything for which he was sentenced to perpetual exile.

Origin of the name of La Malinche

To discover what the name of “La Malinche” means, we would have to locate the definitions according to the dictionary of the Spanish Academy . In some Latin American countries the term malinche is synonymous with “ person who commits treason ”. This definition is based on the idea, which was given during the 19th century, that Malinalli had betrayed her people when she decided to side with a foreign conqueror . But the truth is that, in the year 1519, the indigenous people of Mexico did not form a nation and were facing each other


Names such as Malinalli Tenépatl , Doña Marina , Malintzin and Malinche became known . In reality, his name changes as much as his image. According to the history, Malinche was a Nahua woman who was born in 1502 and is believed to be the daughter of a family of chiefs , and that she was sold after the death of her father to a Mayan trafficker , so she learned that language in addition to your native language.

Some time later, it was given to Hernán Cortés as a kind of tribute , and he gave it to Alonso Hernández, who was one of his captains. After Hernández returned to Spain, Malinalli, who at that time was better known as Marina, became an interpreter of Mayan and Nahuatl, and eventually, also of Castilian.

He was highly relevant for his ability to translate and he dedicated himself to teaching customs and military strategies to the Spanish. With the passage of time he was an important figure within the conquest and his importance was so great that his exploits were all documented in the Lienzo de Tlaxcala and in the True History of the Conquest of New Spain , by the chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo. After the fall of Tenochtitlan , she gave birth to a son named Martín , who was the son of Cortés, and this child was one of the first mestizos in the country, for this reason he is considered the mother of theMexican people today. His death, years later, is not very clear, although it is believed that it was during a smallpox epidemic in which he was infected.

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