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Hernando Cortes
Birth: 1485
Death: Dec. 2, 1547

Spanish Conquistador. He claimed Mexico for Spain, conquering the Aztecs. Born in Medellin, Spain, to a family of minor nobility, Cortéz decided to pursue a career in the newly discovered New World. He initially went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where in 1511, he took part in the Spanish Conquest of Cuba by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar. When Velazquez was made Governor of Cuba, he made Cortéz an Alcalde (Magistrate) of the second town to be established on Cuba. Velazquez later learned of a vast, rich Indian empire in Mexico, and decided to send Cortéz to conquer it. In 1519, Cortéz was selected Captain of the third expedition to the mainland. Just before he was to depart for the mainland, Governor Velazquez sent him a message relieving him from command and ordering him to recall the expedition. Cortéz decided to ignore the order, and proceeded to land his 600 troops at Veracruz, Mexico, then a site of a small Indian village subservient to the Aztecs. Cortéz devised a successful strategy of making the local indigenous Indians ally with him and help the Spanish forces against the Aztecs. He used a local native woman, whom he renamed Dona Marina, as his interpreter. When the Governor of Cuba sent a contingent of troops to Veracruz to arrest Cortéz for ignoring his recall order, Cortéz convinced them to join his Army on the march of conquest against the Aztecs. Before leaving Veracruz, Cortéz destroyed his ships, so that none of his men would feel tempted to return to Cuba. Cortéz and his army marched into Tenochtitlan in November 1519, where the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma, greeted him with gifts, believing Cortéz to be Quetzalcoatl, one of the Aztecs most revered gods. But Cortéz imprisoned Montezuma, and proceeded to rule the Aztec empire through him. After several months, Cuban governor Velazquez sent another small army to Veracruz, to arrest Cortéz for disobedience, but Cortéz convinced those troops as well to join his forces for the conquest of Mexico. By the time the newly reinforced Cortéz returned to Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs had revolted, and forced Cortéz to retreat from Tenochtitlan. Cortéz then recruited new forces from Spanish settlements in the West Indies and from his native Indian allies, and in May 1521, the newly reconstituted Spanish Army besieged Tenochtitlan. Within three months, the Aztecs were forced to surrender and Cortéz soon controlled all of central Mexico. For the next several years, Cortéz expanded his rule as Governor of Mexico, exploring Central America to present day Honduras. In 1528, he returned to Spain, bringing much gold with him, and the King of Spain gave him the title of Marquis, along with 23,000 Indian slaves. Cortéz returned to Mexico in 1530, where he spent the next ten years, exploring, farming, and mining for gold, in the process becoming one of the richest men in all of Spanish America. In 1535, he traveled to Baja California, becoming one of the first Europeans to see that land. In 1540, Cortéz returned to Spain and after a small role in a Spanish attack on Algiers in 1541, he retired to enjoy a wealthy life of ease, dying in 1547. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) 
Church of Jesus of Nazareth
Mexico City
Cuauhtémoc Borough
Distrito Federal, Mexico
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jul 15, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 10968
Hernando Cortes
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Hernando Cortes
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