Hernan Cortez

At the end of the 15th century, under Charles V, Spain was a thriving kingdom in which its inhabitants had a brand new national pride, for having recovered completely their territory from the hands of Arabian sultans.

At the end of the 15th century, under Charles V, Spain was a thriving kingdom in which its inhabitants had a brand new national pride, for having recovered completely their territory from the hands of Arabian sultans. Even when the country was in transit from the Dark Ages into Renaissance, the Spanish society gave birth to a sort of "middle class", consisting of feudalistic exvassls to which kings had granted some privileges, including the semi-noble title "Hidalgo", just for inhabiting and protecting recently recovered lands.

Hernan Cortez was born into one of this exvassal families from Medellin, Extremadura. From his childhood and adolescence we don't know much, just that he was sent to the University of Salamanca to be educated, where he stayed two years. Inspired by constant and rich news from the New World, he set a sail to live at La Hispaniola first, where he became a Scribe. Later on, Velazquez, governor of Cuba called him to be Mayor of the city of Santiago de Cuba.

Although Cortez was never of Velazquez's total confidence, he married the governor’s sister in law, Catalina Suarez de Marcaida, and the governor even appointed him as Captain of the third expedition to the Western Lands. When Velazquez regretted his decision, Cortez departed all of a sudden with few provisions but with 518 infantrymen, 16 horsemen, 13 shotgun men, 32 crossbow men, 110 sailors, about 200 Cuban natives and Black men as troop assistants, 32 horses and 10 canyons in 11 ships.

Without knowing it, Cortez was in his way to play the first role, along with Montezuma, of one of the most epic and transcendental episodes in the Human History: the so called Conquest of Mexico. For Spain it meant not only the almost complete control of a rich and extensive land, but the entrance to the Pacific Ocean and the so-covetted trade with Asia. Further more, this encounter meant the discovery and recreation of the most diverse cultures.

The Emperor gave title of Governor of the conquered lands to Cortez, later on he even gave him the noble title of Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, which he never exercised, as reward for services to the Spanish Crown. However, his later life was loomed due to speculations about his administration during the conquest process, accusations of cruelty in his treatment to natives and the strange death of his first wife.

In spite of his questionable position in the official History of Mexico, we cannot deny Cortez was a man of his century that never ceased to explore and expand the Spanish horizon.