Hernán Cortés

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Hernán Cortés : biography

1485 – 02 December 1547

Cortes and [[La Malinche meet Moctezuma in Tenochtitlan, November 8, 1519]] By the time he arrived in Tenochtitlan the Spaniards had a large army. On November 8, 1519, they were peacefully received by Moctezuma II.Hassig, Ross. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest. Longman Group UK Limited, 1994, pp. 82, 86 Moctezuma deliberately let Cortés enter the Aztec capital, the island city of Tenochtitlan, hoping to get to know their weaknesses better and to crush them later. He gave lavish gifts in gold to the Spaniards which, rather than placating them, excited their ambitions for plunder. In his letters to King Charles, Cortés claimed to have learned at this point that he was considered by the Aztecs to be either an emissary of the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl or Quetzalcoatl himself – a belief which has been contested by a few modern historians.Restall, Matthew (2003). Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest. Oxford University Press; Townsend, Camilla (2003). "Burying the White Gods: New Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico." American Historical Review 108, no. 3: 659–687. But quickly Cortès learned that several Spaniards on the coast had been killed by Aztecs while supporting the Totonacs, and decided to take Moctezuma as a hostage in his own palace, indirectly ruling Tenochtitlan through him.Hassig, Ross. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest. Longman Group UK Limited, 1994, pp. 88–89

Meanwhile, Velasquez sent another expedition, led by Pánfilo de Narváez, to oppose Cortés, arriving in Mexico in April 1520 with 1,100 men. Cortés left 200 men in Tenochtitlan and took the rest to confront Narvaez. He overcame Narváez, despite his numerical inferiority, and convinced the rest of Narvaez’s men to join him. In Mexico, one of Cortés’s lieutenants Pedro de Alvarado, committed The massacre in the Main Temple, triggering a local rebellion.Hassig, Ross. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest. Longman Group UK Limited, 1994, pp. 91–92 Cortés speedily returned to Tenochtihlan. On July 1, 1520 Moctezuma was killed (the Spaniards claimed he was stoned to death by his own people; other claim he was murdered by the Spanish once they realized his inability to placate the locals). Faced with a hostile population, Cortés decided to flee for Tlaxcala. During the Noche Triste (30 June – 1 July 1520), the Spaniards managed a narrow escape from Tenochtitlan across the Tlacopan causeway, while their backguard was being massacred. Much of the treasure looted by Cortés was lost (as well as his artillery) during this panicked escape from Tenochtitlán. After a battle in Otumba, they managed to reach Tlaxcala, after having lost 870 men. With the assistance of their allies, Cortés’s men finally prevailed with reinforcements arriving from Cuba. Cortés began a policy of attrition towards Tenochtitlan, cutting off supplies and subduing the Aztecs’ allied cities. The siege of Tenochtitlán ended with Spanish victory and the destruction of the city.Hassig, Ross. Mexico and the Spanish Conquest. Longman Group UK Limited, 1994, pp. 108–143

In January 1521, Cortés countered a conspiracy against him, headed by Antonio de Villafana, who was hanged for the offense. Finally, with the capture of Cuauhtémoc, the Tlatoani (ruler) of Tenochtitlán, on 13 August 1521, the Aztec Empire disappeared, and Cortés was able to claim it for Spain, thus renaming the city Mexico City. From 1521 to 1524, Cortés personally governed Mexico.

Children

Natural children of Hernán Cortés

  • doña Catalina Pizarro, born between 1514 and 1515 in Santiago de Cuba or maybe later in Nueva España, daughter of doña Leonor Pizarro, perhaps relative of Cortés.
  • don Martín Cortés, born in Coyoacán in 1522, son of doña Marina (La Malinche), called the First Mestizo; about him was written The New World of Martín Cortés; married doña Bernaldina de Porras and had two children:
    • doña Ana Cortés
    • don Fernando Cortés, Principal Judge of Veracruz. Descendants of this line are alive today in Mexico.
  • don Luis Cortés, born in 1525, son of doña Antonia or Elvira Hermosillo.
  • doña Leonor Cortés Moctezuma, born in 1527 or 1528 in Ciudad de Mexico, daughter of Aztec princess Tecuichpotzin (baptized Isabel), born in Tenochtitlan on July 11, 1510 and died on July 9, 1550, the eldest legitimate daughter of Moctezuma II Xocoyotzin and wife doña María Miahuaxuchitl; married to Juan de Tolosa, a miner.
  • doña María Cortés de Moctezuma, daughter of an Aztec princess; nothing more is known about her except that she probably was born with some deformity.