Who is Hernan Cortes? He was a conquistador who conquered Mexico, as well as military leader and government official. Cortes lived in the Age of Exploration which had a large influence on his choice of occupation. Overall, Hernan Cortes was an explorer who has changed the world forever. His defeat of the Aztecs and governing roles have helped create the world we live in today. The Age of Exploration, the time period in which Hernan lived, was when the Europeans began to explore the world to find safer trade routes.
It was a time of conquests and voyages between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Even though the main reason for this historical time period to occur was getting spices from India, there were many other things achieved as well. For example, finding the “new world” or North America was actually just a mistake. Columbus was only trying to find a water route to India, but instead he found a new continent. Other reasons why this age began was to get gold and silver, new goods and trading partners.
By the end of the seventeenth century the Europeans had all of these things as well as new sea ports, trading routes and much geographical information. The boost in geographical knowledge also caused map making and compasses to become far more accurate and precise. In conclusion, the Age of Exploration was a time of travel, trading and knowledge that has bettered the world. Although Cortes is known for being a conquistador, in the majority of his child hood, he couldn’t even consider it as a possibility. This was so because, ever since he was born in 1485, he was a weak and frail only child born to an upper class family in Medellin, Spain. Throughout his childhood schooling he would fall sick and skip months at a time, but that didn’t stop his parents.
They were set on having him become a lawyer so they sent him to the University of Salamanca at the age of fourteen, paying no heed to his sickness. Though it was his parents’ dream, Hernan despised studying law. He failed out in a mere two years due to his sickness as well as his lack of interest. After, he went back home and was mesmerized by tales of the “new world” that Columbus had discovered. Upon hearing more and more of these stories, Cortes became eager to go. So, he boarded a ship led by Quintero in 1504 to seek his fortune in the “new world”.
Once he reached there he went to Santo Domingo and settled in the town of Azu`a. There he served as a notary until he joined the expedition to Cuba led by Velaquez. While on the expedition, Hernan set up his own voyage to Mexico. When he finally arrived in Cuba he became the Mayor of Santiago while he worked out the final details of his very own expedition, only to have Velaquez cancel it the week before it was due to begin. This outraged Hernan and he didn’t listen to his orders and began the expedition anyway. Now, let’s explore his main contributions to the world, defeating the Aztecs and conquering Mexico, by understanding what happened on his conquest to Mexico.
After disobeying Velaquez’ commands he set out to Mexico with over 500 men and 15 horses. Once he arrived, a few of the Aztecs saw him and believed that he was their god or the Quetzalcoatl due to his unusually pale skin and dark eyes. When the Emperor Moctezuma II heard of the so called Quetzalcoatl returning, he immediately invited Hernan to his house. Hernan eagerly agreed, creating a plan to capture the Emperor. Moctezuma II, thinking he was their god, thought it would be a good idea to gift Hernan Cortes many rare and precious jewels as well as feed him human blood. As soon as Cortes saw the many jewels, his greed took over his judgment and he beheaded the Emperor so he could take the rest of the gold as well.
This of course outraged all the natives who tried to kill him, but didn’t succeed. After being driven out of the city, Cortes convinced all the other natives, who were forced to pay tribute to Tenochtitlan, to join his army and help him defeat the Aztecs. Once his forces were assembled, he used cunning military strategy to defeat the Aztecs, take over Mexico and claim it for King Castile. Once the King found out about this, Hernan was made the Governor of New Spain. After living out the rest of his life in debt, he was removed from power.
After all of this, Hernan decided to return home to his parents in Spain, only to die of Pleurisy on the ship. All in all, Hernan Cortes has been on many expeditions throughout his life, but his most important contributions were made on his voyage to Mexico. As a result of Hernan’s contributions in exploration, the world has changed forever in two main ways. First, by defeating the Aztecs he brought Spanish control to Mexico and Central America. This control led to the first Spanish colonization of America.
If not for him, we might not even have a Spanish influence on Mexico. Secondly, if he hadn’t overtook the Aztecs, they might have still been here today which would change our world drastically. Even though, those are the two main things that he has influenced, he also impacted the Mexican culture. If not for him the Mexican culture would not be a mix of the native and Spanish cultures, it would be strictly native. All things considered, Hernan Cortes has deeply changed and influenced the ancient and modern worlds. Overall, Hernan Cortes was a conquistador who has changed the world forever.
His voyages and victories, along with his roles in government, have impacted Mexico deeply. Though he didn’t discover any new lands, he did create a new culture and leave his mark on our world. In the end, Cortes’ defeat of the Aztecs, for better or for worse, has changed the world forever.