Hernán Cortés, gobernador pre-virreinal de Nueva España

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Hernán Cortés Pizarro, gobernador pre-virreinal de Nueva España

Also Known As: "Hernán Cortez", "Hernando Cortés", "Fernando Cortés", "Hernán Cortés", "Hernán Cortés Pizarro", "Gobernador Pre-Virreinal de Nueva España", "Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro (Geni Tree Match)", "El Conquistador del Império Azteca"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Medellín, Extremadura, España
Death: Died in Castilleja de la Cuesta, Andalusia, España
Place of Burial: Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Immediate Family:

Son of Martín Cortés de Monroy; Extremadura, Spain; Catalina Pizarro Altamirano and Extremadura, Spain
Husband of Leonor Pizarro; Isabel Moctezuma; Inés de Moctezuma; Malineli , Tenepatl; Catalina Xuarez (Suares) and 2 others
Partner of Doña Isabel de Moctezuma
Father of Catalina Pizarro; Hernan Martin de Monroy; Leonor Cortés de Moctezuma; Martín Cortés de Pizarro, Tenepal; Don Luis Cortés and 5 others

Occupation: I Marques del Valle, Military ('Conquistador')
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Hernán Cortés, gobernador pre-virreinal de Nueva España

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hern%C3%A1n_Cort%C3%A9s

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Oaxaca Valley (Spanish pronunciation: [erˈnaŋ korˈtes]; 1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Born in Medellín, Spain, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (magistrate) of the second Spanish town founded on the island. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the recall of the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as an interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec Empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 where he died peacefully but embittered.

Because of the controversial undertakings of Cortés and the scarcity of reliable sources of information about him, it has become difficult to assert anything definitive about his personality and motivations. Early lionizing of the conquistadors did not encourage deep examination of Cortés. Later reconsideration of the conquistadors' character in the context of modern anti-colonial sentiment and greatly expanded concern for human rights, as typified by the Black Legend, also did little to expand understanding of Cortés as an individual. As a result of these historical trends, descriptions of Cortés tend to be simplistic, and either damning or idealizing.

Name

While he is often now referred to as Hernán or Hernando Cortez (IPA: [korˈteθ]), in his time he called himself Hernando or Fernando Cortés ([korˈtes]). The names Hernán, Hernando and Fernando are all equally correct. The latter two were most commonly used during his lifetime, but the former shortened form has become common in both the Spanish and English languages in modern times, and is the name which many people know him by today.

Early life

Cortés was born in 1485 in the town of Medellín, in modern day Extremadura, Spain. His father, Martín Cortés de Monroy, born in 1449 to Rodrigo or Ruy Fernández de Monroy and his wife María Cortés, was an infantry captain of distinguished ancestry but slender means. Hernán's mother was Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. Through his mother, Hernán was the second cousin once removed of Francisco Pizarro, who later conquered the Inca Empire of modern-day Peru (not to be confused with another Francisco Pizarro who joined Cortés to conquer the Aztecs), through her parents Diego Altamirano and wife and cousin Leonor Sánchez Pizarro Altamirano, first cousin of Pizarro's father. Through his father, Hernán was a twice distant relative of Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, the third Governor of Hispaniola. His paternal grandfather was a son of Rodrigo de Monroy y Almaraz, 5th Lord of Monroy, and wife Mencía de Orellana y Carvajal.

Hernán Cortés is described as a pale, sickly child by his biographer, chaplain, and friend Francisco López de Gómara. At the age of 14, Cortés was sent to study at the University of Salamanca in west-central Spain. This was Spain's great center of learning, and while accounts vary as to the nature of Cortés's studies, his later writings and actions suggest he studied Law and probably Latin.

After two years, Cortés, tired of schooling, returned home to Medellín, much to the irritation of his parents, who had hoped to see him equipped for a profitable legal career. However, those two years at Salamanca, plus his long period of training and experience as a notary, first in Seville and later in Hispaniola, would give him a close acquaintance with the legal codes of Castile that helped him to justify his unauthorized conquest of Mexico.

At this point in his life, Cortés was described by Gómara as restless, haughty and mischievous. This was probably a fair description of a 16-year-old boy who had returned home only to find himself frustrated by life in his small provincial town. By this time, news of the exciting discoveries of Columbus in the New World was streaming back to Spain.

Departure for the New World

Plans were made for Cortés to sail to the Americas with a family acquaintance and distant relative, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, the newly appointed governor of Hispaniola (currently Haiti and the Dominican Republic), but an injury he sustained while hurriedly escaping from the bedroom of a married woman from Medellín, prevented him from making the journey. Instead, he spent the next year wandering the country, probably spending most of his time in the heady atmosphere of Spain's southern ports of Cadiz, Palos, Sanlucai and Seville, listening to the tales of those returning from the Indies, who told of discovery and conquest, gold, Indians and strange unknown lands[citation needed]. He finally left for Hispaniola in 1504 where he became a colonist.

Arrival

Cortés did not arrive in the "New World" until he finally succeeded in reaching Hispaniola in a ship commanded by Alonso Quintero, who tried to deceive his superiors and reach the New World before them in order to secure personal advantages. Quintero's mutinous conduct may have served as a model for Cortés in his subsequent career. The history of the conquistadores is rife with accounts of rivalry, jockeying for positions, mutiny and betrayal.

Upon his arrival in 1504 in Santo Domingo, the capital of Hispaniola, the 18-year-old Cortés registered as a citizen, which entitled him to a building plot and land to farm. Soon afterwards, Nicolás de Ovando, still the governor, gave him a repartimiento of Indians and made him a notary of the town of Azua de Compostela. His next five years seemed to help establish him in the colony; in 1506, Cortés took part in the conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba, receiving a large estate of land and Indian slaves for his efforts from the leader of the expedition.

In Cuba

In 1511, Cortés had recovered from syphilis and accompanied Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, an aide of the Governor of Hispaniola, in his expedition to conquer Cuba. Velázquez was appointed as governor. At the age of 26, Cortés was made clerk to the treasurer with the responsibility of ensuring that the Crown received the quinto, or customary one-fifth of the profits from the expedition.

The Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez, was so impressed with Cortés that he secured a high political position for him in the colony. Cortés continued to build a reputation as a daring and bold leader. He became secretary for Governor Velázquez. Cortés was twice appointed municipal magistrate (alcalde) of Santiago. In Cuba, Cortés became a man of substance with a repartimiento (gift of land and Indian slaves), mines and cattle. This new position of power also made him the new source of leadership, which opposing forces in the colony could then turn to. In 1514, Cortés led a group which demanded that more Indians be assigned to the settlers.

As time went on, relations between Cortés and Governor Velázquez became strained.[citation needed] This all began once news of Juan de Grijalva, establishing a colony on the mainland where there was a lot of silver and gold, reached Velázquez; it was decided to send him help. Cortés was appointed Captain-General of this new expedition in October 1518, but was advised to move fast before Velázquez changed his mind. With Cortés’experience as an administrator, knowledge gained from many failed expeditions, and his impeccable rhetoric he was able to gather six ships and 300 men, within a month. Predictably, Velázquez’s jealousy exploded and decided to place the leadership of the expedition in other hands. However, Cortés quickly gathered more men and ships in other Cuban ports.

Cortés also found time to become romantically involved with Catalina Xuárez (or Juárez), the sister-in-law of Governor Velázquez. Part of Velázquez' displeasure seems to have been based on a belief that Cortés was trifling with Catalina's affections. Cortés was temporarily distracted by one of Catalina's sisters but finally married Catalina, reluctantly, under pressure from Governor Velázquez. However, by doing so, he hoped to secure the good will of both her family and that of Velázquez.

It was not until he had been almost 15 years in the Indies, that Cortés began to look beyond his substantial status as mayor of the capital of Cuba and as a man of affairs in the thriving colony. He missed the first two expeditions, under the orders of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and then Juan de Grijalva, sent by Diego Velázquez to Mexico in 1518.

Conquest of Mexico

In 1518 Velázquez put him in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. At the last minute, due to the old gripe between Velázquez and Cortés, he changed his mind and revoked his charter. Cortés ignored the orders and went ahead anyway, in February 1519, in an act of open mutiny. Accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses and a small number of cannons, he landed in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mayan territory. There, he met Geronimo de Aguilar, a Spaniard who had survived from a shipwreck and joined the troops. Geronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan priest, had learned Maya during his captivity, and could thus translate for Cortés. In March 1519, Cortés formally claimed the land for the Spanish crown. He stopped in Trinidad to hire more soldiers and obtain more horses. Then he proceeded to Tabasco and won a battle against the natives, who did not want to welcome the Spaniards, during which time he received from the vanquished twenty young indigenous women and he converted them all. Among these women was La Malinche, his future mistress and mother of his child Martín. Malinche knew both the (Aztec) Nahuatl language and Maya, thus enabling Hernán Cortés to communicate in both. She became a very valuable interpreter and counselor. Through her help, Cortés learned from the Tabascans about the wealthy Aztec Empire and its riches.

In July 1519, his men took over Veracruz: by this act, Cortés dismissed the authority of the Governor of Cuba to place himself directly under the orders of Charles V. In order to eliminate any ideas of retreat, Cortés scuttled his ships. In Veracruz, he met some of Moctezuma's tributaries and asked them to arrange a meeting with Moctezuma. Moctezuma repeatedly turned down the meeting, but Cortés was determined. Leaving a hundred men in Veracruz, Cortès marched on Tenochtitlan in mid-August 1519, along with 600 men, 15 horsemen, 15 cannons, and hundreds of indigenous carriers and warriors. On the way to Tenochtitlan, Cortés made alliances with native American tribes such as the Nahuas of Tlaxcala, the Tlaxcaltec, who surrounded the Spanish and about 2,000 porters on a hilltop and the Totonacs of Cempoala. In October 1519, Cortés and his men, accompanied by about 3,000 Tlaxcalteca, marched to Cholula, the second largest city in central Mexico. Cortés, either in a pre-meditated effort to instill fear upon the Aztecs waiting for him at Tenochtitlan or (as he later claimed when under investigation) wishing to make an example when he feared native treachery, infamously massacred thousands of unarmed members of the nobility gathered at the central plaza, then partially burned the city.

By the time he arrived in Tenochtitlan the Spaniards had a large army. On November 8, 1519, they were peacefully received by the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, due to Mexican tradition and diplomatic customs. Moctezuma deliberately let Cortés enter the heart of the Aztec Empire, hoping to get to know their weaknesses better and to crush them later. He gave lavish gifts in gold to the Spaniards which enticed them to plunder vast amounts of gold. In his letters to Charles V, 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. But quickly Cortès learned that Spaniards on the coast had been attacked, and decided to take Moctezuma as a hostage in his own palace, requesting him to swear allegiance to Charles V.

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 a massacre in the Main Temple, triggering a local rebellion. Cortés speedily returned to Mexico and proposed an armistice, attempting to support himself on Moctezuma, but the latter was stoned to death by his subjects on July 1, 1520 and 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 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 the island city of Tenochtitlán cutting off supplies and subduing the Aztecs' allied cities thus changing the balance and organizing the siege of Tenochtitlán, destroying the city.

In January 1521, Cortés countered a conspiracy against him, headed by Villafana, who was hanged. 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.

Appointment to governorship of Mexico and internal dissensions

Many historical sources have conveyed an impression that Cortés was unjustly treated by the Spanish Crown, and that he received nothing but ingratitude for his role in establishing New Spain. This picture is the one Cortés presents in his letters and in the later biography written by Gomara. However, there may be more to the picture than this. Cortés's own greed and vanity may have played a part in his deteriorating position with the king

"Cortés personally was not ungenerously rewarded, but he speedily complained of insufficient compensation to himself and his comrades. Thinking himself beyond reach of restraint, he disobeyed many of the orders of the Crown, and, what was more imprudent, said so in a letter to the emperor, dated October 15, 1524 (Ycazbalceta, "Documentos para la Historia de México", Mexico, 1858, I). In this letter Cortés, besides recalling in a rather abrupt manner that the conquest of Mexico was due to him alone, deliberately acknowledges his disobedience in terms which could not fail to create a most unfavourable impression."

King Charles I of Spain, who had become Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1519, appointed Cortés as governor, captain general and chief justice of the newly conquered territory, dubbed "New Spain of the Ocean Sea". But also, much to the dismay of Cortés, four royal officials were appointed at the same time to assist him in his governing — in effect submitting him to close observation and administration. Cortés initiated the construction of Mexico City, destroying Aztec temples and buildings and then rebuilding on the Aztec ruins what soon became the most important European city in the Americas. Cortés managed the founding of new cities and appointed men to extend Spanish rule to all of New Spain, imposing the encomienda land tenure system in 1524. He also supported efforts to evangelize the indigenous people to Christianity and sponsored new explorations. He then spent the next seven years establishing peace among the Indians of Mexico and developing mines and farmlands. Cortés was one of the first Spaniards to attempt to grow sugar in Mexico and one of the first to import African slaves to early colonial Mexico. At the time of his death his estate contained at least 200 slaves who were either native Africans or of African descent.[citation needed]

In 1523, the Crown (possibly influenced by Cortés's enemy, Bishop Fonseca), sent a military force under the command of Juan de Garay to conquer and settle the northern part of Mexico, the region of Pánuco. This was another setback for Cortés who mentioned this in his fourth letter to the King in which he describes himself as the victim of a conspiracy by his archenemies Diego Velázquez, Diego Columbus and Bishop Fonseca as well as Juan Garay. The influence of Garay was effectively stopped by this appeal to the King who sent out a decree forbidding Garay to interfere in the politics of New Spain, causing him to give up without a fight.

From 1524 to 1526, Cortés headed an expedition to Honduras where he defeated Cristóbal de Olid, who had claimed Honduras as his own under the influence of the Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez. Fearing that Cuauhtémoc might head an insurrection in Mexico, he brought him with him in Honduras and hanged him during the journey. Raging over Olid's treason, Cortés issued a decree to arrest Velázquez, whom he was sure was behind Olid's treason. This, however, only served to further estrange the Crown of Castile and the Council of Indies, both of which were already beginning to feel anxious about Cortés's rising power.

Cortés's fifth letter to Charles V attempts to justify his conduct, concludes with a bitter attack on “various and powerful rivals and enemies” who have “obscured the eyes of your Majesty.” Unfortunately, the Holy Roman Emperor had little time for distant colonies (much of Charles's reign was taken up with wars with France, the German Protestants and the expanding Ottoman Empire), except insofar as they contributed to finance his wars. In 1521, year of the Conquest, Charles V was attending to matters in his German domains and Spain was ruled by Bishop (later Pope) Adrian of Utrecht, who functioned as regent. Velázquez and Fonseca persuaded the regent to appoint a commissioner with powers, (a Juez de residencia, Luis Ponce de León), to investigate Cortés's conduct and even arrest him. Cortés was once quoted as saying that it was "more difficult to contend against (his) own countrymen than against the Aztecs."[citation needed] Governor Diego Velázquez continued to be a thorn in his side, teaming up with Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, chief of the Spanish colonial department, to undermine him in the Council of the Indies.

A few days after Cortés's return from his expedition, Ponce de León suspended Cortés from his office of governor of New Spain. The Licentiate then fell ill and died shortly after his arrival, appointing Marcos de Aguilar as alcalde mayor. The aged Aguilar also became sick and appointed Alonso de Estrada governor, who was confirmed in his functions by a royal decree in August 1527. Cortés, suspected of poisoning them, refrained from taking over the government. Estrada sent Diego de Figueroa to the south; but de Figueroa raided graveyards and extorted contributions, meeting his end when the ship carrying these treasures sunk. Albornoz persuaded Alonso de Estrada to release Salazar and Chirinos. When Cortés complained angrily after one of his adherent's hand was cut off, Estrada ordered him exiled. Cortés sailed for Spain in 1528 to appeal to Emperor Charles V.

First return to Spain (1528)

In 1528, Cortés returned to Spain to appeal to the justice of his master, Charles V. Juan Altamirano and Alonso Valiente stayed in Mexico and acted as Cortés' representatives during his absence. Cortés presented himself with great splendor before Charles V's court. By this time Charles V had returned and Cortés forthrightly responded to his enemy's charges. Denying he had held back on gold due the crown, he showed that he had contributed more than the quinto (one-fifth) required. Indeed, he had spent lavishly to rebuild Tenochtitlán, damaged during the siege that brought down the Aztec empire.

He was received by Charles with every distinction, and decorated with the order of Santiago. In return for his efforts in expanding the still young Spanish Empire, Cortés was rewarded in 1529 by being named the "Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca" (Marquis of the Oaxaca Valley), a noble title and senorial estate which was passed down to his descendants until 1811. The Oaxaca Valley was one of the wealthiest region of New Spain, and Cortés had 23 000 vassals. Although confirmed in his land holdings and vassals, he was not reinstated as governor and was never again given any important office in the administration of New Spain. During his travel to Spain, his property was mismanaged by abusive colonial administrators. He sided with local natives in a lawsuit. The natives documented the abuses in the Huexotzinco Codex.

Return to Mexico

Cortés returned to Mexico in 1530 with new titles and honors, but with diminished power, a viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, having been entrusted in 1535 with the administration of civil affairs, although Cortés still retained military authority, with permission to continue his conquests. This division of power led to continual dissension, and caused the failure of several enterprises in which Cortés was engaged.

On returning to Mexico, Cortés found the country in a state of anarchy. There was a strong suspicion in court circles of an intended rebellion by Cortés, and a charge was brought against him that cast a fatal blight upon his character and plans. He was accused of murdering his first wife. The proceedings of the investigation were kept secret. No report, either exonerating or condemning Cortés, was published. Had the Government declared him innocent, it would have greatly increased his popularity; had it declared him a criminal, a crisis would have been precipitated by the accused and his party. Silence was the only safe policy, but that silence is suggestive that grave danger was feared from his influence.

After reasserting his position and reestablishing some sort of order, Cortés retired to his estates at Cuernavaca, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Mexico City. There he concentrated on the building of his palace and on Pacific exploration. Remaining in Mexico between 1530 and 1541, Cortés quarreled with Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán and disputed the right to explore the territory that is today California with Antonio de Mendoza, the first viceroy. In 1536, Cortés explored the northwestern part of Mexico and discovered the Baja California Peninsula. Cortés also spent time exploring the Pacific coast of Mexico. The Gulf of California was originally named the Sea of Cortes by its discoverer Francisco de Ulloa in 1539. This was the last major expedition by Cortés.

Later life and death

Second return to Spain

After his exploration of Baja California, Cortés returned to Spain in 1541, hoping to confound his angry civilians, who had brought many lawsuits against him (for debts, abuse of power, etc.).

On his return he was utterly neglected, and could scarcely obtain an audience. On one occasion he forced his way through a crowd that surrounded the emperor's carriage, and mounted on the footstep. The emperor, astounded at such audacity, demanded of him who he was. "I am a man," replied Cortés proudly, "who has given you more provinces than your ancestors left you cities."

Expedition against Algiers (1541)

The emperor finally permitted Cortés to join him and his fleet commanded by Andrea Doria at the great expedition against Algiers in the Barbary Coast in 1541, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire and was used as a base by the famous Turkish corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa who was also the Admiral-in-Chief of the Ottoman Fleet. During this unfortunate campaign, which was his last, Cortés was almost drowned in a storm that hit his fleet while he was pursuing Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, who managed to defeat the fleet of Charles V for a second time after the 1538 Battle of Preveza.

Last years

Having spent a great deal of his own money to finance expeditions, he was now heavily in debt. In February 1544 he made a claim on the royal treasury, but was given a royal runaround for the next three years. Disgusted, he decided to return to Mexico in 1547. When he reached Seville, he was stricken with dysentery. He died in Castilleja de la Cuesta, Seville province, on December 2, 1547, from a case of pleurisy at the age of 62.

Like Columbus, he died a wealthy but embittered man. He left his many mestizo and white children well cared for in his will, along with every one of their mothers. He requested in his will that his remains eventually be buried in Mexico. Before he died he had the Pope remove the "natural" status of three of his children (legitimizing them in the eyes of the church), including Martin, the son he had with Doña Marina (also known as La Malinche), said to be his favourite.

After his death his body has been moved more than eight times for several reasons. On December 4, 1547 he was buried in the mausoleum of the Duke of Medina in the church of San Isidoro del Campo, Sevilla. Three years later (1550) due to the space being required by the duke, his body was moved to the altar of Santa Catarina in the same church. In his testament, Cortés asked for his body to be buried in the monastery he had ordered to be built in Coyoacan in México, ten years after his death, but the monastery was never built. So in 1566, his body was sent to New Spain and buried in the church of "San Francisco de Texcoco", where his mother and one of his sisters were buried.

In 1629, Don Pedro Cortés fourth "Marquez del Valle, his last male descendant, died, so the viceroy decided to move the bones of Cortés along with those of his descendant to the Franciscan church in México. This was delayed for nine years, while his body stayed in the main room of the palace of the viceroy. Eventually it was moved the Sagrario of Franciscan church, where it stayed for 87 years. In 1716, it was moved to another place in the same church. In 1794, his bones were moved to the "Hospital de Jesus" (founded by Cortés), where a statue by Tolsa and a mausoleum were made. There was a public ceremony and all the churches in the city rang their bells.

In 1823, after the independence of México, it seemed imminent that his body would be desecrated, so the mausoleum was removed, the statue and the coat of arms were sent to Palermo, Sicily, to be protected by the Duke of Terranova. The bones were hidden, and everyone thought that they had been sent out of México. In 1836, his bones were moved to another place in the same building. It was not until 1947 that they were rediscovered thanks to the discovery of a secret document by Lucas Alaman. His body put in charge of the "Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia" INAH; it was authenticated and then restored to the same place, this time with a bronze inscription and his coat of arms. In 1981, when a copy of the bust by Tolsa was put in the church, there was a failed attempt to destroy his bones.

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:


1. doña Ana Cortés

2. 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 de Moctezuma, born in 1527 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.

He married twice: firstly in Cuba to Catalina Juárez Marcaida, who died at Coyoacán in 1522 without issue, and secondly in 1529 to doña Juana Ramírez de Arellano de Zúñiga, daughter of don Carlos Ramírez de Arellano, 2nd Count of Aguilar and wife the Countess doña Juana de Zúñiga, and had:

don Luis Cortés y Ramírez de Arellano, born in Texcoco in 1530 and died shortly after his birth.

doña Catalina Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca in 1531 and died shortly after her birth.

don Martín Cortés y Ramírez de Arellano, 2nd Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, born in Cuernavaca in 1532, married at Nalda on February 24, 1548 his twice cousin once removed doña Ana Ramírez de Arellano y Ramírez de Arellano and had issue, currently extinct in male line

doña María Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, married to don Luis de Quiñones y Pimentel, 5th Count of Luna

doña Catalina Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, died unmarried in Sevilla after the funeral of her father

doña Juana Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, married Don Fernando Enríquez de Ribera y Portocarrero, 2nd Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules, 3rd Marquess of Tarifa and 6th Count of Los Molares, and had issue

Disputed interpretation of his life

There are relatively few sources to the early life of Cortés; his fame arose from his participation in the conquest of Mexico and it was only after this that people became interested in reading and writing about him. Probably the best source is his letters to the king which he wrote during the campaign in Mexico, but they are written with the specific purpose of putting his efforts in a favourable light and so must be read critically. Another main source is the biography written by Cortés's private chaplain Lopez de Gómara, which was written in Spain several years after the conquest. Gómara never set foot in the Americas and knew only what Cortés had told him, and he had an affinity for knightly romantic stories which he incorporated richly in the biography. The third major source is written as a reaction to what its author calls "the lies of Gomara", the account written by the Conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo does not paint Cortés as a romantic hero but rather tries to emphasize that also Cortés's men should be remembered as important participants in the undertakings in Mexico. In the years following the conquest also more critical accounts of the Spanish arrival in Mexico were written. The Dominican friar Bartolomé de Las Casas wrote his A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies in which he raised strong accusations of brutality, and heinous violence towards the Indians against the conquistadors in general and Cortés in particular. The accounts of the conquest given in the Florentine Codex by the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún and his native informants are also less than flattering towards Cortés. The result of the scarce sources to the life of Cortés has been sharp divisions in the description of Cortés's personality and a tendency to describe him as either a vicious and ruthless person or a noble and honorable cavalier.

Representations in México

In México there are few representations of Cortés. However, many landmarks still bear his name, from the castle in the city of Cuernavaca to some street names throughout the republic.

The only authentic monuments are in Mexico City at the pass between the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl where Cortés took his soldiers on their march to Mexico City. It is known as the Paso de Cortés.

The muralist Diego Rivera painted several representation of him but the most famous, depicts him as a powerful and ominous figure along with Malinche in a mural in the National Palace in México City.

In 1981, president Lopez Portillo tried to bring Cortés to public recognition. First, he made public a copy of the bust of Cortés made by Manuel Tolsá in the Hospital de Jesús Nazareno with an official ceremony, but soon a nationalist group tried to destroy it, so it had to be taken out of the public. Today the copy of bust is in the "Museo Nacional de Historia" in an obscure corner while the original is in Nápoles, Italy, in the Villa Pignatelli.

Later, another monument, known as "Monumento al Mestizaje" by Julián Martínez y M. Maldonado (1982) was commissioned by Lopez Portillo to be put in the "Zocalo" (Main square) of Coyoacan, near the place of his country house, but it had to be removed to a little known park, the Jardín Xicoténcatl, Barrio de San Diego Churubusco. The statue depicts Cortés, Malinche and their son.

There is another statue by Sebastián Aparicio, in Cuernavaca, was in a hotel "El casino de la selva". Cortés is barely recognizable, so it sparked little interest. The hotel was closed to make a commercial center, and the statue was put out of public display by Costco the builder of the commercial center.

Writings - The Cartas de Relación

Cortés's personal account of the conquest of Mexico is narrated in his five letters addressed to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. These five letters, or cartas de relación, are Cortés's only surviving writings. See "Letters and Dispatches of Cortés," translated by George Folsom (New York, 1843); Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico" (Boston, 1843); and Sir Arthur Helps's "Life of Hernando Cortes" (London, 1871).

As one specialist describes them...

"The Cartas de relación have enjoyed an unequaled popularity among students of the Conquest of Mexico. Cortés was a good writer. His letters to the emperor, on the conquest, deserve to be classed among the best Spanish documents of the period. They are, of course, coloured so as to place his own achievements in relief, but, withal, he keeps within bounds and does not exaggerate, except in matters of Indian civilization and the numbers of population as implied by the size of the settlements. Even there he uses comparatives only, judging from outward appearances and from impressions. Historians, sociologists, and political scientists use them to glean information about the Aztec Empire and the clash between the European and Indian cultures. However, as early as the 16th century doubt has been cast on the historicity of these Conquest accounts. It is generally accepted that Cortés does not write a true “history,” but rather combines history with fiction. That is to say, in his narrative Cortés manipulates reality in order to achieve his overarching purpose of gaining the favor of the king. Cortés applies the classical rhetorical figure of evidentia as he crafts a powerful narrative full of “vividness” that moves the reader and creates a heightened sense of realism in his letters."[citation needed]

His first letter is lost, and the one from the municipality of Vera Cruz has to take its place. It was published for the first time in volume IV of "Documentos para la Historia de España", and subsequently reprinted.

The Segunda Carta de Relacion, bearing the date of October 30, 1520, appeared in print at Seville in 1522. The "Carta tercera", May 15, 1522, appeared at Seville in 1523. The fourth, October 20, 1524, was printed at Toledo in 1525. The fifth, on the Honduras expedition, is contained in volume IV of the Documentos para la Historia de España. The important letter mentioned in the text has been published under the heading of Carta inédita de Cortés by Ycazbalceta. A great number of minor documents, either by Cortés or others, for or against him, are dispersed through the voluminous collection above cited and through the Colección de Documentos de Indias, as well as in the Documentos para la Historia de México of Ycazbalceta. There are a number of reprints and translations of Cortés's writings into various languages.

References in modern culture

Hernán Cortés is a principal character in the opera La conquista (2005) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero, which depicts the major episodes of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521 and the subsequent destruction of the Aztec civilization

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hern%C3%A1n_Cort%C3%A9s

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Oaxaca Valley (Spanish pronunciation: [erˈnaŋ korˈtes]; 1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

Born in Medellín, Spain, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (magistrate) of the second Spanish town founded on the island. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the recall of the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as an interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec Empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 where he died peacefully but embittered six years later.

Because of the controversial undertakings of Cortés and the scarcity of reliable sources of information about him, it has become difficult to assert anything definitive about his personality and motivations. Early lionizing of the conquistadors did not encourage deep examination of Cortés. Later reconsideration of the conquistadors' character in the context of modern anti-colonial sentiment and greatly expanded concern for human rights, as typified by the Black Legend, also did little to expand understanding of Cortés as an individual. As a result of these historical trends, descriptions of Cortés tend to be simplistic, and either damning or idealizing.

Name While he is often now referred to as Hernán or Hernando Cortez (IPA: [korˈteθ]), in his time he called himself Hernando or Fernando Cortés ([korˈtes]). The names Hernán, Hernando and Fernando are all equally correct. The latter two were most commonly used during his lifetime, but the former shortened form has become common in both the Spanish and English languages in modern times, and is the name which many people know him by today.[1]

Early life Cortés was born in 1485 in the town of Medellín, in modern day Extremadura, Spain. His father, Martín Cortés de Monroy, born in 1449 to Rodrigo or Ruy Fernández de Monroy and his wife María Cortés, was an infantry captain of distinguished ancestry but slender means. Hernán's mother was Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. Through his mother, Hernán was the second cousin once removed of Francisco Pizarro, who later conquered the Inca Empire of modern-day Peru (not to be confused with another Francisco Pizarro who joined Cortés to conquer the Aztecs), through her parents Diego Altamirano and wife and cousin Leonor Sánchez Pizarro Altamirano, first cousin of Pizarro's father.[2] Through his father, Hernán was a twice distant relative of Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, the third Governor of Hispaniola. His paternal grandfather was a son of Rodrigo de Monroy y Almaraz, 5th Lord of Monroy, and wife Mencía de Orellana y Carvajal.

Hernán Cortés is described as a pale, sickly child by his biographer, chaplain, and friend Francisco López de Gómara. At the age of 14, Cortés was sent to study at the University of Salamanca in west-central Spain. This was Spain's great center of learning, and while accounts vary as to the nature of Cortés's studies, his later writings and actions suggest he studied Law and probably Latin.

After two years, Cortés, tired of schooling, returned home to Medellín, much to the irritation of his parents, who had hoped to see him equipped for a profitable legal career. However, those two years at Salamanca, plus his long period of training and experience as a notary, first in Seville and later in Hispaniola, would give him a close acquaintance with the legal codes of Castile that helped him to justify his unauthorized conquest of Mexico.

At this point in his life, Cortés was described by Gómara as restless, haughty and mischievous.[3] This was probably a fair description of a 16-year-old boy who had returned home only to find himself frustrated by life in his small provincial town. By this time, news of the exciting discoveries of Columbus in the New World was streaming back to Spain.

Departure for the New World Plans were made for Cortés to sail to the Americas with a family acquaintance and distant relative, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, the newly appointed governor of Hispaniola (currently Haiti and the Dominican Republic), but an injury he sustained while hurriedly escaping from the bedroom of a married woman from Medellín, prevented him from making the journey. Instead, he spent the next year wandering the country, probably spending most of his time in the heady atmosphere of Spain's southern ports of Cadiz, Palos, Sanlucai and Seville, listening to the tales of those returning from the Indies, who told of discovery and conquest, gold, Indians and strange unknown lands[citation needed]. He finally left for Hispaniola in 1504 where he became a colonist.[4]

Arrival Cortés did not arrive in the "New World" until he finally succeeded in reaching Hispaniola in a ship commanded by Alonso Quintero, who tried to deceive his superiors and reach the New World before them in order to secure personal advantages. Quintero's mutinous conduct may have served as a model for Cortés in his subsequent career. The history of the conquistadores is rife with accounts of rivalry, jockeying for positions, mutiny and betrayal.[5]

Upon his arrival in 1504 in Santo Domingo, the capital of Hispaniola, the 18-year-old Cortés registered as a citizen, which entitled him to a building plot and land to farm. Soon afterwards, Nicolás de Ovando, still the governor, gave him a repartimiento of Indians and made him a notary of the town of Azua de Compostela. His next five years seemed to help establish him in the colony; in 1506, Cortés took part in the conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba, receiving a large estate of land and Indian slaves for his efforts from the leader of the expedition.

In Cuba In 1511, Cortés had recovered from syphilis and accompanied Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, an aide of the Governor of Hispaniola, in his expedition to conquer Cuba. Velázquez was appointed as governor. At the age of 26, Cortés was made clerk to the treasurer with the responsibility of ensuring that the Crown received the quinto, or customary one-fifth of the profits from the expedition.

The Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez, was so impressed with Cortés that he secured a high political position for him in the colony. Cortés continued to build a reputation as a daring and bold leader. He became secretary for Governor Velázquez. Cortés was twice appointed municipal magistrate (alcalde) of Santiago. In Cuba, Cortés became a man of substance with a repartimiento (gift of land and Indian slaves), mines and cattle. This new position of power also made him the new source of leadership, which opposing forces in the colony could then turn to. In 1514, Cortés led a group which demanded that more Indians be assigned to the settlers.

As time went on, relations between Cortés and Governor Velázquez became strained.[citation needed] This all began once news of Juan de Grijalva, establishing a colony on the mainland where there was a lot of silver and gold, reached Velázquez; it was decided to send him help. Cortés was appointed Captain-General of this new expedition in October 1518, but was advised to move fast before Velázquez changed his mind. With Cortés’experience as an administrator, knowledge gained from many failed expeditions, and his impeccable rhetoric he was able to gather six ships and 300 men, within a month. Predictably, Velázquez’s jealousy exploded and decided to place the leadership of the expedition in other hands. However, Cortés quickly gathered more men and ships in other Cuban ports.

Cortés also found time to become romantically involved with Catalina Xuárez (or Juárez), the sister-in-law of Governor Velázquez. Part of Velázquez' displeasure seems to have been based on a belief that Cortés was trifling with Catalina's affections. Cortés was temporarily distracted by one of Catalina's sisters but finally married Catalina, reluctantly, under pressure from Governor Velázquez. However, by doing so, he hoped to secure the good will of both her family and that of Velázquez.[6]

It was not until he had been almost 15 years in the Indies, that Cortés began to look beyond his substantial status as mayor of the capital of Cuba and as a man of affairs in the thriving colony. He missed the first two expeditions, under the orders of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and then Juan de Grijalva, sent by Diego Velázquez to Mexico in 1518.

Conquest of Mexico In 1518 Velázquez put him in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. At the last minute, due to the old gripe between Velázquez and Cortés, he changed his mind and revoked his charter. Cortés ignored the orders and went ahead anyway, in February 1519, in an act of open mutiny. Accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses and a small number of cannons, he landed in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mayan territory.[7] There, he met Geronimo de Aguilar, a Spaniard who had survived from a shipwreck and joined the troops.[7] Geronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan priest, had learned Maya during his captivity, and could thus translate for Cortés. In March 1519, Cortés formally claimed the land for the Spanish crown. He stopped in Trinidad to hire more soldiers and obtain more horses. Then he proceeded to Tabasco and won a battle against the natives, who did not want to welcome the Spaniards, during which time he received from the vanquished twenty young indigenous women and he converted them all.[8] Among these women was La Malinche, his future mistress and mother of his child Martín. Malinche knew both the (Aztec) Nahuatl language and Maya, thus enabling Hernán Cortés to communicate in both. She became a very valuable interpreter and counselor. Through her help, Cortés learned from the Tabascans about the wealthy Aztec Empire and its riches.

In July 1519, his men took over Veracruz: by this act, Cortés dismissed the authority of the Governor of Cuba to place himself directly under the orders of Charles V.[7] In order to eliminate any ideas of retreat, Cortés scuttled his ships. In Veracruz, he met some of Moctezuma's tributaries and asked them to arrange a meeting with Moctezuma. Moctezuma repeatedly turned down the meeting, but Cortés was determined. Leaving a hundred men in Veracruz, Cortès marched on Tenochtitlan in mid-August 1519, along with 600 men, 15 horsemen, 15 cannons, and hundreds of indigenous carriers and warriors.[7] On the way to Tenochtitlan, Cortés made alliances with native American tribes such as the Nahuas of Tlaxcala, the Tlaxcaltec, who surrounded the Spanish and about 2,000 porters on a hilltop and the Totonacs of Cempoala. In October 1519, Cortés and his men, accompanied by about 3,000 Tlaxcalteca, marched to Cholula, the second largest city in central Mexico. Cortés, either in a pre-meditated effort to instill fear upon the Aztecs waiting for him at Tenochtitlan or (as he later claimed when under investigation) wishing to make an example when he feared native treachery, infamously massacred thousands of unarmed members of the nobility gathered at the central plaza, then partially burned the city.

By the time he arrived in Tenochtitlan the Spaniards had a large army. On November 8, 1519, they were peacefully received by the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, due to Mexican tradition and diplomatic customs. Moctezuma deliberately let Cortés enter the heart of the Aztec Empire, hoping to get to know their weaknesses better and to crush them later.[7] He gave lavish gifts in gold to the Spaniards which enticed them to plunder vast amounts of gold. In his letters to Charles V, 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.[9] But quickly Cortès learned that Spaniards on the coast had been attacked, and decided to take Moctezuma as a hostage in his own palace, requesting him to swear allegiance to Charles V.

Meanwhile, Velasquez sent another expedition, led by Pánfilo de Narváez, to oppose Cortés, arriving in Mexico in April 1520 with 1,100 men.[7] 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.[7] In Mexico, one of Cortés's lieutenants Pedro de Alvarado, committed a massacre in the Main Temple, triggering a local rebellion. Cortés speedily returned to Mexico and proposed an armistice, attempting to support himself on Moctezuma, but the latter was stoned to death by his subjects on July 1, 1520 and 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 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.[7] After a battle in Otumba, they managed to reach Tlaxcala, after having lost 870 men.[7] With the assistance of their allies, Cortés's men finally prevailed with reinforcements arriving from Cuba. Cortés began a policy of attrition towards the island city of Tenochtitlán cutting off supplies and subduing the Aztecs' allied cities thus changing the balance and organizing the siege of Tenochtitlán, destroying the city.

In January 1521, Cortés countered a conspiracy against him, headed by Villafana, who was hanged.[7] 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.[7]

Appointment to governorship of Mexico and internal dissensions Many historical sources have conveyed an impression that Cortés was unjustly treated by the Spanish Crown, and that he received nothing but ingratitude for his role in establishing New Spain. This picture is the one Cortés presents in his letters and in the later biography written by Gomara. However, there may be more to the picture than this. Cortés's own greed and vanity may have played a part in his deteriorating position with the king

"Cortés personally was not ungenerously rewarded, but he speedily complained of insufficient compensation to himself and his comrades. Thinking himself beyond reach of restraint, he disobeyed many of the orders of the Crown, and, what was more imprudent, said so in a letter to the emperor, dated October 15, 1524 (Ycazbalceta, "Documentos para la Historia de México", Mexico, 1858, I). In this letter Cortés, besides recalling in a rather abrupt manner that the conquest of Mexico was due to him alone, deliberately acknowledges his disobedience in terms which could not fail to create a most unfavourable impression."[10] King Charles I of Spain, who had become Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1519, appointed Cortés as governor, captain general and chief justice of the newly conquered territory, dubbed "New Spain of the Ocean Sea". But also, much to the dismay of Cortés, four royal officials were appointed at the same time to assist him in his governing — in effect submitting him to close observation and administration. Cortés initiated the construction of Mexico City, destroying Aztec temples and buildings and then rebuilding on the Aztec ruins what soon became the most important European city in the Americas. Cortés managed the founding of new cities and appointed men to extend Spanish rule to all of New Spain, imposing the encomienda land tenure system in 1524.[7] He also supported efforts to evangelize the indigenous people to Christianity and sponsored new explorations. He then spent the next seven years establishing peace among the Indians of Mexico and developing mines and farmlands. Cortés was one of the first Spaniards to attempt to grow sugar in Mexico and one of the first to import African slaves to early colonial Mexico. At the time of his death his estate contained at least 200 slaves who were either native Africans or of African descent.

In 1523, the Crown (possibly influenced by Cortés's enemy, Bishop Fonseca),[11] sent a military force under the command of Juan de Garay to conquer and settle the northern part of Mexico, the region of Pánuco. This was another setback for Cortés who mentioned this in his fourth letter to the King in which he describes himself as the victim of a conspiracy by his archenemies Diego Velázquez, Diego Columbus and Bishop Fonseca as well as Juan Garay. The influence of Garay was effectively stopped by this appeal to the King who sent out a decree forbidding Garay to interfere in the politics of New Spain, causing him to give up without a fight.

From 1524 to 1526, Cortés headed an expedition to Honduras where he defeated Cristóbal de Olid, who had claimed Honduras as his own under the influence of the Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez. Fearing that Cuauhtémoc might head an insurrection in Mexico, he brought him with him in Honduras and hanged him during the journey. Raging over Olid's treason, Cortés issued a decree to arrest Velázquez, whom he was sure was behind Olid's treason. This, however, only served to further estrange the Crown of Castile and the Council of Indies, both of which were already beginning to feel anxious about Cortés's rising power.[12]

Cortés's fifth letter to Charles V attempts to justify his conduct, concludes with a bitter attack on “various and powerful rivals and enemies” who have “obscured the eyes of your Majesty.”[13] Unfortunately, the Holy Roman Emperor had little time for distant colonies (much of Charles's reign was taken up with wars with France, the German Protestants and the expanding Ottoman Empire),[14] except insofar as they contributed to finance his wars. In 1521, year of the Conquest, Charles V was attending to matters in his German domains and Spain was ruled by Bishop (later Pope) Adrian of Utrecht, who functioned as regent. Velázquez and Fonseca persuaded the regent to appoint a commissioner with powers, (a Juez de residencia, Luis Ponce de León), to investigate Cortés's conduct and even arrest him. Cortés was once quoted as saying that it was "more difficult to contend against (his) own countrymen than against the Aztecs."[citation needed] Governor Diego Velázquez continued to be a thorn in his side, teaming up with Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, chief of the Spanish colonial department, to undermine him in the Council of the Indies.

A few days after Cortés's return from his expedition, Ponce de León suspended Cortés from his office of governor of New Spain. The Licentiate then fell ill and died shortly after his arrival, appointing Marcos de Aguilar as alcalde mayor. The aged Aguilar also became sick and appointed Alonso de Estrada governor, who was confirmed in his functions by a royal decree in August 1527. Cortés, suspected of poisoning them, refrained from taking over the government. Estrada sent Diego de Figueroa to the south; but de Figueroa raided graveyards and extorted contributions, meeting his end when the ship carrying these treasures sunk. Albornoz persuaded Alonso de Estrada to release Salazar and Chirinos. When Cortés complained angrily after one of his adherent's hand was cut off, Estrada ordered him exiled. Cortés sailed for Spain in 1528 to appeal to Emperor Charles V.

First return to Spain (1528) In 1528, Cortés returned to Spain to appeal to the justice of his master, Charles V. Juan Altamirano and Alonso Valiente stayed in Mexico and acted as Cortés' representatives during his absence. Cortés presented himself with great splendor before Charles V's court. By this time Charles V had returned and Cortés forthrightly responded to his enemy's charges. Denying he had held back on gold due the crown, he showed that he had contributed more than the quinto (one-fifth) required. Indeed, he had spent lavishly to rebuild Tenochtitlán, damaged during the siege that brought down the Aztec empire.

He was received by Charles with every distinction, and decorated with the order of Santiago. In return for his efforts in expanding the still young Spanish Empire, Cortés was rewarded in 1529 by being named the "Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca" (Marquis of the Oaxaca Valley), a noble title and senorial estate which was passed down to his descendants until 1811. The Oaxaca Valley was one of the wealthiest region of New Spain, and Cortés had 23 000 vassals.[7] Although confirmed in his land holdings and vassals, he was not reinstated as governor and was never again given any important office in the administration of New Spain. During his travel to Spain, his property was mismanaged by abusive colonial administrators. He sided with local natives in a lawsuit. The natives documented the abuses in the Huexotzinco Codex.

Return to Mexico Cortés returned to Mexico in 1530 with new titles and honors, but with diminished power, a viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, having been entrusted in 1535 with the administration of civil affairs, although Cortés still retained military authority, with permission to continue his conquests. This division of power led to continual dissension, and caused the failure of several enterprises in which Cortés was engaged.

On returning to Mexico, Cortés found the country in a state of anarchy. There was a strong suspicion in court circles of an intended rebellion by Cortés, and a charge was brought against him that cast a fatal blight upon his character and plans. He was accused of murdering his first wife. The proceedings of the investigation were kept secret. No report, either exonerating or condemning Cortés, was published. Had the Government declared him innocent, it would have greatly increased his popularity; had it declared him a criminal, a crisis would have been precipitated by the accused and his party. Silence was the only safe policy, but that silence is suggestive that grave danger was feared from his influence.

After reasserting his position and reestablishing some sort of order, Cortés retired to his estates at Cuernavaca, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Mexico City. There he concentrated on the building of his palace and on Pacific exploration. Remaining in Mexico between 1530 and 1541, Cortés quarreled with Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán and disputed the right to explore the territory that is today California with Antonio de Mendoza, the first viceroy. In 1536, Cortés explored the northwestern part of Mexico and discovered the Baja California Peninsula. Cortés also spent time exploring the Pacific coast of Mexico. The Gulf of California was originally named the Sea of Cortes by its discoverer Francisco de Ulloa in 1539. This was the last major expedition by Cortés.

Later life and death Second return to Spain After his exploration of Baja California, Cortés returned to Spain in 1541, hoping to confound his angry civilians, who had brought many lawsuits against him (for debts, abuse of power, etc.).[7]

On his return he was utterly neglected, and could scarcely obtain an audience. On one occasion he forced his way through a crowd that surrounded the emperor's carriage, and mounted on the footstep. The emperor, astounded at such audacity, demanded of him who he was. "I am a man," replied Cortés proudly, "who has given you more provinces than your ancestors left you cities."[15][16]

Expedition against Algiers The emperor finally permitted Cortés to join him and his fleet commanded by Andrea Doria at the great expedition against Algiers in the Barbary Coast in 1541, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire and was used as a base by the famous Turkish corsair Hayreddin Barbarossa who was also the Admiral-in-Chief of the Ottoman Fleet. During this unfortunate campaign, which was his last, Cortés was almost drowned in a storm that hit his fleet while he was pursuing Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha, who managed to defeat the fleet of Charles V for a second time after the 1538 Battle of Preveza.[17]

Last years Having spent a great deal of his own money to finance expeditions, he was now heavily in debt. In February 1544 he made a claim on the royal treasury, but was given a royal runaround for the next three years. Disgusted, he decided to return to Mexico in 1547. When he reached Seville, he was stricken with dysentery. He died in Castilleja de la Cuesta, Seville province, on December 2, 1547, from a case of pleurisy at the age of 62.

Like Columbus, he died a wealthy but embittered man. He left his many mestizo and white children well cared for in his will, along with every one of their mothers. He requested in his will that his remains eventually be buried in Mexico. Before he died he had the Pope remove the "natural" status of three of his children (legitimizing them in the eyes of the church), including Martin, the son he had with Doña Marina (also known as La Malinche), said to be his favourite.[citation needed]

After his death his body has been moved more than eight times for several reasons. On December 4, 1547 he was buried in the mausoleum of the Duke of Medina in the church of San Isidoro del Campo, Sevilla. Three years later (1550) due to the space being required by the duke, his body was moved to the altar of Santa Catarina in the same church. In his testament, Cortés asked for his body to be buried in the monastery he had ordered to be built in Coyoacan in México, ten years after his death, but the monastery was never built. So in 1566, his body was sent to New Spain and buried in the church of "San Francisco de Texcoco", where his mother and one of his sisters were buried.

In 1629, Don Pedro Cortés fourth "Marquez del Valle, his last male descendant, died, so the viceroy decided to move the bones of Cortés along with those of his descendant to the Franciscan church in México. This was delayed for nine years, while his body stayed in the main room of the palace of the viceroy. Eventually it was moved the Sagrario of Franciscan church, where it stayed for 87 years. In 1716, it was moved to another place in the same church. In 1794, his bones were moved to the "Hospital de Jesus" (founded by Cortés), where a statue by Tolsa and a mausoleum were made. There was a public ceremony and all the churches in the city rang their bells.

In 1823, after the independence of México, it seemed imminent that his body would be desecrated, so the mausoleum was removed, the statue and the coat of arms were sent to Palermo, Sicily, to be protected by the Duke of Terranova. The bones were hidden, and everyone thought that they had been sent out of México. In 1836, his bones were moved to another place in the same building. It was not until 1947 that they were rediscovered thanks to the discovery of a secret document by Lucas Alaman. His body put in charge of the "Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia" INAH; it was authenticated and then restored to the same place, this time with a bronze inscription and his coat of arms.[18] In 1981, when a copy of the bust by Tolsa was put in the church, there was a failed attempt to destroy his bones.

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 de Moctezuma, born in 1527 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.

He married twice: firstly in Cuba to Catalina Juárez Marcaida, who died at Coyoacán in 1522 without issue, and secondly in 1529 to doña Juana Ramírez de Arellano de Zúñiga, daughter of don Carlos Ramírez de Arellano, 2nd Count of Aguilar and wife the Countess doña Juana de Zúñiga, and had:

don Luis Cortés y Ramírez de Arellano, born in Texcoco in 1530 and died shortly after his birth. doña Catalina Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca in 1531 and died shortly after her birth. don Martín Cortés y Ramírez de Arellano, 2nd Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, born in Cuernavaca in 1532, married at Nalda on February 24, 1548 his twice cousin once removed doña Ana Ramírez de Arellano y Ramírez de Arellano and had issue, currently extinct in male line doña María Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, married to don Luis de Quiñones y Pimentel, 5th Count of Luna doña Catalina Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, died unmarried in Sevilla after the funeral of her father doña Juana Cortés de Zúñiga, born in Cuernavaca between 1533 and 1536, married Don Fernando Enríquez de Ribera y Portocarrero, 2nd Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules, 3rd Marquess of Tarifa and 6th Count of Los Molares, and had issue

Disputed interpretation of his life There are relatively few sources to the early life of Cortés; his fame arose from his participation in the conquest of Mexico and it was only after this that people became interested in reading and writing about him. Probably the best source is his letters to the king which he wrote during the campaign in Mexico, but they are written with the specific purpose of putting his efforts in a favourable light and so must be read critically. Another main source is the biography written by Cortés's private chaplain Lopez de Gómara, which was written in Spain several years after the conquest. Gómara never set foot in the Americas and knew only what Cortés had told him, and he had an affinity for knightly romantic stories which he incorporated richly in the biography. The third major source is written as a reaction to what its author calls "the lies of Gomara", the account written by the Conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo does not paint Cortés as a romantic hero but rather tries to emphasize that Cortés's men should also be remembered as important participants in the undertakings in Mexico. In the years following the conquest more critical accounts of the Spanish arrival in Mexico were written. The Dominican friar Bartolomé de Las Casas wrote his A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies which raises strong accusations of brutality and heinous violence towards the Indians; accusations against both the conquistadors in general and Cortés in particular. The accounts of the conquest given in the Florentine Codex by the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún and his native informants are also less than flattering towards Cortés. The scarcity of these sources has led to a sharp division in the description of Cortés's personality and a tendency to describe him as either a vicious and ruthless person or a noble and honorable cavalier.

Representations in México


Monument in Mexico City commemorating the encounter of Cortés and Motecuhzoma. In México there are few representations of Cortés. However, many landmarks still bear his name, from the castle in the city of Cuernavaca to some street names throughout the republic.

The only authentic monuments are in Mexico City at the pass between the volcanoes Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl where Cortés took his soldiers on their march to Mexico City. It is known as the Paso de Cortés.

The muralist Diego Rivera painted several representation of him but the most famous, depicts him as a powerful and ominous figure along with Malinche in a mural in the National Palace in México City.

In 1981, president Lopez Portillo tried to bring Cortés to public recognition. First, he made public a copy of the bust of Cortés made by Manuel Tolsá in the Hospital de Jesús Nazareno with an official ceremony, but soon a nationalist group tried to destroy it, so it had to be taken out of the public.[19] Today the copy of bust is in the "Museo Nacional de Historia" in an obscure corner [20] while the original is in Nápoles, Italy, in the Villa Pignatelli.

Monument in Mexico City known as "Monumento al Mestizaje. Later, another monument, known as "Monumento al Mestizaje" by Julián Martínez y M. Maldonado (1982) was commissioned by Lopez Portillo to be put in the "Zocalo" (Main square) of Coyoacan, near the place of his country house, but it had to be removed to a little known park, the Jardín Xicoténcatl, Barrio de San Diego Churubusco. The statue depicts Cortés, Malinche and their son.[21]

There is another statue by Sebastián Aparicio, in Cuernavaca, was in a hotel "El casino de la selva". Cortés is barely recognizable, so it sparked little interest. The hotel was closed to make a commercial center, and the statue was put out of public display by Costco the builder of the commercial center.[19]

Writings - The Cartas de Relación Cortés's personal account of the conquest of Mexico is narrated in his five letters addressed to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. These five letters, or cartas de relación, are Cortés's only surviving writings. See "Letters and Dispatches of Cortés," translated by George Folsom (New York, 1843); Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico" (Boston, 1843); and Sir Arthur Helps's "Life of Hernando Cortes" (London, 1871).[15]

As one specialist describes them...

"The Cartas de relación have enjoyed an unequaled popularity among students of the Conquest of Mexico. Cortés was a good writer. His letters to the emperor, on the conquest, deserve to be classed among the best Spanish documents of the period. They are, of course, coloured so as to place his own achievements in relief, but, withal, he keeps within bounds and does not exaggerate, except in matters of Indian civilization and the numbers of population as implied by the size of the settlements. Even there he uses comparatives only, judging from outward appearances and from impressions. Historians, sociologists, and political scientists use them to glean information about the Aztec Empire and the clash between the European and Indian cultures. However, as early as the 16th century doubt has been cast on the historicity of these Conquest accounts. It is generally accepted that Cortés does not write a true “history,” but rather combines history with fiction. That is to say, in his narrative Cortés manipulates reality in order to achieve his overarching purpose of gaining the favor of the king. Cortés applies the classical rhetorical figure of evidentia as he crafts a powerful narrative full of “vividness” that moves the reader and creates a heightened sense of realism in his letters."[citation needed]

His first letter is lost, and the one from the municipality of Vera Cruz has to take its place. It was published for the first time in volume IV of "Documentos para la Historia de España", and subsequently reprinted. The first carta de relación is available online at [22]

The Segunda Carta de Relacion, bearing the date of October 30, 1520, appeared in print at Seville in 1522. The "Carta tercera", May 15, 1522, appeared at Seville in 1523. The fourth, October 20, 1524, was printed at Toledo in 1525. The fifth, on the Honduras expedition, is contained in volume IV of the Documentos para la Historia de España. The important letter mentioned in the text has been published under the heading of Carta inédita de Cortés by Ycazbalceta. A great number of minor documents, either by Cortés or others, for or against him, are dispersed through the voluminous collection above cited and through the Colección de Documentos de Indias, as well as in the Documentos para la Historia de México of Ycazbalceta. There are a number of reprints and translations of Cortés's writings into various languages.[23][24]

References in modern culture Hernán Cortés is a principal character in the opera La conquista (2005) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero, which depicts the major episodes of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1521 and the subsequent destruction of the Aztec civilization.

-------------------- Hernán Cortés Monroy Pizarro Altamirano (Medellín, provincia de Badajoz, 1485 – Castilleja de la Cuesta, provincia de Sevilla, 2 de diciembre de 1547), conquistador español del imperio azteca, es decir, lo que hoy es el centro de México.

Fue hijo único de un hidalgo extremeño, llamado Martín Cortés y de Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. Por vía materna era primo segundo de Francisco Pizarro, quien posteriormente conquistó el imperio inca (no confundir con otro Francisco Pizarro, quien se unió a Cortés en la conquista de los aztecas). Como otros hidalgos, su padre lo envió a los catorce años a estudiar leyes a la Salamanca, ciudad que abandonó dos años más tarde, guiado por su afán de aventuras. Tras varios intentos fallidos, por una parte, de embarcar para las Indias, y, por otra, de participar en las campañas de Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba en Italia, finalmente, en la primavera de 1504, zarpó hacia la isla de La Española, donde se instaló como plantador y funcionario colonial.

Tabla de contenidos

[ocultar]

   * 1 Cuba
   * 2 La expedición
   * 3 Primeros contactos con los pobladores. Toma de Potonchán
   * 4 Fundación de Veracruz y alianza militar con Cempoala
   * 5 «Quema» (barrenado) de las naves
   * 6 Guerra y posterior alianza con Tlaxcala. Matanza de Cholula
   * 7 Tenochtitlan
         o 7.1 Lucha entre españoles
         o 7.2 La Matanza del Templo Mayor
         o 7.3 La rebelión y La Noche Triste
         o 7.4 Sitio y caída de Tenochtitlan
   * 8 El viaje de Cortés a Las Hibueras
   * 9 Hernán Cortés descubre la «California»
         o 9.1 La primera expedición
         o 9.2 La segunda expedición
         o 9.3 La tercera expedición
         o 9.4 La cuarta expedición
         o 9.5 El nombre de California
   * 10 Introduce el cacao en Europa
   * 11 La leyenda negra
   * 12 Peregrinar de sus restos
   * 13 Curiosidades
   * 14 Referencias
   * 15 Véase también
   * 16 Enlaces externos
   * 17 Bibliografía

Cuba [editar]

En 1511 participó en la expedición de conquista de Cuba dirigida por el gobernador Diego de Velázquez, de quien recibió tierras y esclavos en la isla. Llegó a ser nombrado alcalde de Santiago de Cuba Santiago de Baracoa, aunque fue después encarcelado por el gobernador, acusado de conspirar en su contra. Liberado, se casó con la cuñada del propio Diego Velázquez, de nombre Catalina Suárez Marcaida.

A finales de 1518 Velázquez le confió el mando de la tercera expedición, tras las de Francisco Hernández de Córdoba y Juan de Grijalva, para continuar sus descubrimientos en la costa de Yucatán. Pero Velázquez pronto desconfió de él.

Cuenta Bernal Díaz del Castillo, autor de Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España, que un bufón de Velázquez, llamado Cervantes el loco, le dijo a su señor, a la manera de los bufones: «A la gala de mi amo Diego, Diego, ¿qué capitán has elegido? Que es de Medellín de Extremadura, capitán de gran. Más temo, Diego, no se te alce con la armada, que le juzgo por muy gran varón en sus cosas».

Hernán Cortés seguía, sin embargo, con los preparativos de la expedición, y debido a su gran elocuencia, dotes de persuasión y sugestión, pronto logró reclutar a más de 600 hombres para su causa.

La expedición [editar]

Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés

Adelantándose a que le cesase Diego Velázquez, la armada de Cortés partió precipitadamente del puerto de Santiago de Cuba el 18 de noviembre de 1518. Como iba escasa de bastimentos, tuvo que aprovisionarse de éstos en el puerto de Trinidad y otros lugares.

Finalmente, el 10 de febrero de 1519, la flota abandonó las costas de Cuba. Consistía aquella armada en 11 naves, con 518 infantes, 16 jinetes, 13 arcabuzeros, 32 ballesteros, 110 marineros y unos 200 indios y negros como auxiliares de tropa. Llevaban 32 caballos, 10 cañones de bronce y 4 falconetes. Por capitanes iban Alonso Hernández de Portocarrero (al cual entregaría más tarde la india doña Marina), Alonso Dávila, Diego de Ordás, Francisco de Montejo, Francisco de Morla, Francisco de Saucedo, Juan de Escalante, Juan Velázquez de León (pariente del gobernador), Cristóbal de Olid, Gonzalo de Sandoval y Pedro de Alvarado. Muchos de éstos eran veteranos de la guerra de Italia. Por piloto principal iba Antón de Alaminos con experiencia en las dos expediciones anteriores de Francisco Hernández de Córdoba y Juan de Grijalva.

Primeros contactos con los pobladores. Toma de Potonchán [editar]

La Malinche traduce la lengua de los mexicas a Cortés. Lienzo Tlaxcala Siglo XVI

La Malinche traduce la lengua de los mexicas a Cortés. Lienzo Tlaxcala Siglo XVI

El primer contacto con las civilizaciones mesoamericanas lo tuvo en la isla de Cozumel, un importante puerto naviero y centro religioso maya que formaba parte del estado de Ecab, y donde se encontraba el santuario dedicado a Ixchel, diosa de la fertilidad. Los españoles llegaron durante el Período Posclásico de la Cultura maya poco después de la caída de Mayapán en 1480, que llevó a la fragmentación de la península de Yucatán en 16 pequeños estados, cada uno con su propio gobernante denominado «halach uinik», y en constante conflicto entre sí.

Inmediatamente después de presentarse al «batab» (gobernante local de la ciudad) Cortés le pidió que dejaran su religión y adoptaran el cristianismo mandando a sus hombres a destruir los ídolos religiosos mayas y poner cruces e imágenes de la Virgen María en el templo. Una biografía del rey Carlos I escrita en 1603 relata el momento así:

   Espantáronse los isleños de ver aquella flota y metiéronse al monte, dejando desamparadas sus casas y haciendas. Entraron algunos españoles la tierra adentro y hallaron cuatro mujeres con tres criaturas y trajéronlas a Cortés, y por señas de los indios que consigo llevaba, entendió que la una dellas era la señora de aquella tierra y madre de los niños. Hízole Cortés buen tratamiento, y ella hizo venir allí a su marido, el cual mandó dar a los españoles buenas posadas y regalarlos mucho. Y cuando vio Cortés que ya estaban asegurados y contentos, comenzó a predicarles la fe de Cristo. Mandó a la lengua que llevaba, que les dijese que les quería dar otro mejor Dios que el que tenían. Rogóles que adorasen la Cruz y una imagen de Nuestra Señora, y dijeron que les placía. Llevólos a su templo y quebrantóles los ídolos y puso en lugar dellos cruces y imágines de Nuestra Señora, lo cual todo tuvieron los indios por bueno. Estando allí Cortés nunca sacrificaron hombres, que lo solían hacer cada día.[1]

Hernán Cortés utilizaba de intérprete a un joven maya tomado prisionero en la Isla Mujeres, cuyo nombre ningún cronista de Indias recogió pero al que los españoles apodaban «Melchorejo». A través de él tuvo noticias de la existencia de unos hombres barbudos en poder de un cazicazgo maya cercano y envió emisarios a rescatarlos. En 1511 encontraron a Gerónimo de Aguilar superviviente del naufragio del buque Santa María de la Barca. Aguilar entonces, se dirigió a buscar a otro sobreviviente, Gonzalo Guerrero, quien vivía en Chetumal y donde había logrado escapar de la esclavitud ganándose la confianza del cacique Nachan Can, para volverse él mismo un nacom o jefe militar maya y casarse con la princesa maya Zazil Há, con la que había tenido varios hijos, hoy considerados los primeros mexicanos modernos. Aguilar decidió volver con Cortés convirtiéndose en uno de sus intérpretes de mayense, pero Guerrero decidió quedarse con los mayas y murió hacia 1536. Algunos historiadores creen que peleó contra los conquistadores españoles.[2]

La expedición de Cortes continuó bordeando la costa guiados por el piloto Antón de Alaminos hasta llegar el 14 de marzo de 1519 a la desembocadura del río Tabasco (hoy Grijalba), en las cercanías de la ciudad de Potonchan (Putunchan), perteneciente a los putunes o grupo maya-chontal y gobernada por el «halach uinik» Taabscoob. Allí se produjo la crucial Batalla de Centla relatada desde el punto de vista español por López de Gómara en el capítulo Combate y toma de Potonchan de su libro La Conquista de México:[3]

   Cortés se adelantó haciendo señas de paz, les habló por medio de Jerónimo de Aguilar, rogándoles los recibiesen bien, pues no venían a hacerles mal, sino a tomar agua dulce y comprar de comer, como hombres que andando por el mar, tenían necesidad de ello; por tanto, que se lo diesen, que ellos se lo pagarían muy cortésmente.

Las autoridades de Potonchan ordenaron llevarles agua y comida para que se fueran. Pero Cortés sostuvo que no era suficiente e insistió en que dejaran entrar a sus tropas a la ciudad.

   Replicaron los indios que no querían consejos de gente que no conocían, ni menos acogerlos en sus casas, porque les parecían hombres terribles y mandones, y que si querían agua, que la cogiesen del río o hiciesen pozos en la tierra, que así hacían ellos cuando la necesitaban. Entonces Cortés, viendo que las palabras estaban de más, les dijo que de ninguna manera podía dejar de entrar en el lugar y ver aquella tierra, para tomar y dar relación de ella al mayor señor del mundo, que allí le enviaba; por eso, que lo tuviesen por bueno, pues él lo deseaba hacer por las buenas, y si no, que se encomendaría a su Dios, a sus manos y a las de sus compañeros. Los indios no decían más que se fuesen, y no intentasen echar bravatas en tierras ajena, porque de ninguna manera le consentirían salir a ella ni entrar en su pueblo, antes bien le avisaban que si en seguida no se marchaban de allí, le matarían a él y a cuantos con él iban.

Los españoles atacaron entonces la ciudad por dos flancos, produciéndose una sangrienta batalla que finalizó en la derrota de Potonchán y la entrada de Cortés y sus hombres:

   Los españoles escudriñaron las casas y no hallaron más que maíz y gallipavos, y algunas cosas de algodón, y poco rastro de oro, pues no había dentro más que cuatrocientos hombres de guerra defendiendo el lugar. Se derramó mucha sangre de indios en la toma de ese lugar, por pelear desnudos; los heridos fueron muchos y cautivos quedaron pocos; los muertos no se contaron. Cortés se aposentó en el templo de los ídolos con todos los españoles, y cupieron muy a placer, porque tiene un patio y unas salas muy buenas y grandes. Durmieron allí aquella noche con buena guarda, como en casa de enemigos, más los indios no se atrevieron a nada. De esa manera se tomó Potonchan, que fue la primera ciudad que Hernán Cortés ganó por la fuerza en lo que descubrió y conquistó.

Luego de la derrota, las autoridades de Tabasco le hicieron a Cortés ofrenda de víveres, joyas, tejidos, y un grupo de veinte esclavas, que fueron aceptadas, cambiados sus nombres al ser bautizadas y repartidas entre sus hombres.[4] Entre estas esclavas había una llamada Malintzin, a la que los españoles renombraron Marina, conocida también como La Malinche, que seria crucial en la conquista de México. Su gran inteligencia, su dominio de las lenguas mayenses y náhuatl, su conocimiento de la psicología y costumbres de los indios, y su fidelidad hacia los españoles, hicieron de la Malinche una de las más extraordinarias y controvertidas mujeres de la historia de América.[5] La Malinche fue intérprete, consejera y concubina de Hernán Cortés, con el cual tendría un hijo catorce años después, Martín Cortés, del mismo nombre que el hijo legítimo que Hernán Cortés tendría más tarde con Juana de Zúñiga. Ella y Gerónimo de Aguilar suplieron a Melchorejo como intérpretes, debido a que este había decidido boicotear a los españoles y estaba incitando a los indígenas a resistir la conquista.

Ese año de 1519 comenzaría una epidemia de viruela, traida sin saberlo por los conquistadores, que en el curso de las siguientes décadas aniquiló al 97% de la población de la región[6] y que facilitaría la Conquista de México.

Fundación de Veracruz y alianza militar con Cempoala [editar]

Vista de la plaza principal de las ruinas de la ciudad de Cempoala, capital de la Nación Totonaca, la primera en establecer una alianza militar con España para atacar el Imperio Azteca.

Vista de la plaza principal de las ruinas de la ciudad de Cempoala, capital de la Nación Totonaca, la primera en establecer una alianza militar con España para atacar el Imperio Azteca.

En Tabasco, los españoles supieron de la existencia de un país hacia poniente que los amerindios denominaban «México». La flota fue, bordeando la costa mexicana, en dirección noroeste, y un día se presentaron varias canoas aztecas que venían de parte de Moctezuma, el «tlatoani» o emperador del Imperio Azteca, con capital en Tenochtitlán. Cortés les mostró sus armas de fuego, sus caballos para, por una parte amedrentarlos, pero por otra parte trató de ser amable y afable con ellos, hablándoles de paz. Los embajadores traían pintores, y dibujaron todo lo que vieron con objeto de que el emperador fuese informado fielmente y viese como eran estos «teules» (semidioses). Moctezuma volvió a enviar presentes de joyas y objetos preciosos, pero Cortés seguía insistiendo en visitar a su emperador, que volvió a denegar el permiso para visitarlo.

Cortés instaló su campamento enfrente de la ciudad de Quiahuiztlan habitada ancestralmente por los totonacas, y poco después lo convirtió en ciudad, con el nombre de Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (ubicada 70 km al norte de la actual Veracruz), por haber desembarcado los españoles en aquel paraje un Viernes Santo.

Los nuevos pobladores rogaron a Cortés que se proclamase capitán general, dependiendo directamente del rey y no de Velázquez, a quien no le reconocía mando sobre aquellas nuevas tierras. Luego de negarse varias veces, terminó aceptándolo. Nombró alcalde, regidores, alguaciles, tesorero y alférez, consumando, pues, la desvinculación de la autoridad del gobernador de Cuba sobre la expedición. Este acto es considerado como la fundación de la primera ciudad europea en América continental.

Cortés notó entonces que el Imperio Azteca tenía enemigos y que esto facilitaba sus planes. Comenzó a elaborar un plan para agudizar las rencillas y odios que existían entre los diferentes pueblos mesoamericanos para apoderarse del territorio y de sus riquezas. Pero para ello tenía que imponer también su voluntad y su mando sobre la facción del gobernador Diego de Velázquez, que sostenía que Cortés no tenía autorización para poblar, sino sólo para rescatar y descubrir, y que deberían volver a Cuba terminada la expedición. La mayoría de los capitanes y la tropa apoyaban a Cortés, ya que intuían las grandes riquezas que podían haber en Tenochtitlan.

La primera nación mesoamericana con la que Cortés estableció una alianza militar fue la Cultura Totonaca, con capital en Cempoala, una avanzada ciudad de unos 20.000 habitantes. A mediados de 1519, treinta pueblos totonacas se reunieron con Cortés en Cempoala para sellar la alianza y marchar juntos a la conquista de Tenochtitlan. Los totonacas aportaron 13.000 guerreros a la empresa de Cortés quién, por su parte, aportaría unos 400 españoles, armas de fuego y quince caballos.

El acuerdo se realizó sobre la base de que, una vez derrotado el Imperio Azteca, la Nación Totonaca sería libre. Este acuerdo no fue respetado y, luego de la conquista de México, los totonacas fueron compelidos a abandonar su cultura y religión bajo pena de muerte, encomendados como siervos a los señores españoles en sus propias tierras, particularmente en el naciente cultivo de caña de azúcar, quedando Cempoala deshabitada y su cultura extinguida y olvidada. La Cultura Totonaca volvió a ser descubierta a fines del siglo XIX, por el arqueólogo e historiador mexicano Francisco del Paso y Troncoso.

«Quema» (barrenado) de las naves [editar]

Llegaron noticias de que Diego Velázquez había conseguido por sus valedores en la Corte el nombramiento de adelantado de Yucatán, por lo que envió para contrarrestar estas influencias a sus fieles Portocarrero y Montejo con lo mejor del botín obtenido hasta entonces, para conseguir el nombramiento para Cortés. Tomó además la decisión de inutilizar las naves, excepto la que había de utilizar Portocarrero a fin de mantener contacto directo con España, para evitar cualquier fuga de los hombres que no secundaban su rebelión frente a la legalidad del gobernador de Cuba.

Sobre la forma física real en que se inutilizaron las naves, las fuentes utilizan las expresiones «barrenar» (abrir agujeros con un barreno o broca) y «dar de través» (volcar, tumbar, poner en dirección transversal el barco para vararlo). Posiblemente lo que se hizo fue una combinación de ambos procesos, y en cualquier caso es importante decir que las piezas de las naves sirvieron para propósitos posteriores que tuvieron importancia decisiva en la conquista de la capital azteca.

Guerra y posterior alianza con Tlaxcala. Matanza de Cholula [editar]

Sección reconstruida de la Gran Pirámide de Cholula, en la actual San Andrés Cholula (Puebla), donde se produjo la llamada Matanza de Cholula.

Sección reconstruida de la Gran Pirámide de Cholula, en la actual San Andrés Cholula (Puebla), donde se produjo la llamada Matanza de Cholula.

La Matanza de Cholula, Lienzo de Tlaxcala (1552)

La Matanza de Cholula, Lienzo de Tlaxcala (1552)

El 16 de agosto de 1519, Cortés abandonó la costa e inicia su marcha hacia el interior, rumbo hacia al corazón del Imperio Mexica, con un ejército de 13.000 guerreros totonacas, 400 soldados españoles con armas de fuego y 15 caballos.

A fines de agosto el ejército de Cortés llegó al territorio de la Confederación o República de Tlaxcala, integrada por cuatro señoríos autónomos: Tepeticpac, Ocotelulco, Tizatlán y Quiahuiztlán.

Por entonces, Tlaxcala y Tenochtitlán representaban dos concepciones opuestas de organización política que las llevó al enfrentamiento abierto. Tlaxcala se había organizado como una confederación de ciudades-estados unidas en una república gobernada por un Senado; México-Tenochtitlán, por el contrario se organizó como un imperio.[7]

A partir de 1455 el Imperio Azteca, conformado sobre la base de la Triple Alianza entre Tenochtitlán, Texcoco y Tlacopan, había iniciado las llamadas «guerras floridas» contra Huejotzingo, Cholula y Tlaxcala, con el fin de capturar prisioneros para sus sacrificios religiosos.

En esas circunstancias llegó Cortés al territorio de Tlaxcala, al mando de su ejército totonaca-español. Inicialmente la República de Tlaxcala, al mando de Xicohténcatl Axayacatzin, negó a los invasores el paso por su territorio, enfrentándose el 2 de septiembre en el desfiladero de Tecoantzinco con suerte favorable a Cortés. Al día siguiente se produjo un nuevo enfrentamiento en los llanos, que volvió a ser desfavorable para Tlaxcala llevando a la división de la República, con la deserción de las tropas de Ocotelulco y Tepeticpac. Superadas en número, las tropas de Xicohténcatl volvieron a ser derrotadas y el Senado ordenó detener la guerra y ofrecer la paz a Cortés. Este acuerdo estableció la crucial alianza con los tlaxcaltecas, enemigos acérrimos de los aztecas, quienes nunca habían podido conquistar su territorio. Cortés se detuvo allí varias semanas.

En su paso hacia Tenochtitlan Cortés llegó a Cholula, aliada del Imperio Azteca, que era la segunda ciudad más grande después de México-Tenochtitlan, con 30.000 habitantes. Bernal Díaz del Castillo cuenta en su crónica que luego de haber recibido a Cortés y su enorme ejército, las autoridades de Cholula planearon tenderle una emboscada y aniquilar a los españoles. Díaz del Castillo cuenta que él y las tropas vieron a un costado de los templos las varas con collares que supuso destinadas a los españoles para ser llevados cautivos a Tenochtitlan. Díaz del Castillo también cuenta que una anciana y unos sacerdotes de los templos de Cholula alertaron a Cortés, quien mandó inmediatamente a su ejército a atacar, causando lo que se conoce como la matanza de Cholula, en la que más de 5.000 hombres murieron en cinco horas. El contingente permaneció en Cholula durante octubre y noviembre y al salir Cortés mandó incendiar la ciudad.

Después llegó a Ayotzinco, desde donde preparó el ataque a Tenochtitlan. A su llegada a México-Tenochtitlan, Cortés quedó sorprendido por la belleza del lugar, que es descrita por Díaz del Castillo como «un sueño». En su paso desde Cholula, Cortés había recorrido el camino hacia el Valle de México, cruzando por entre dos volcanes, el Popocatépetl y el Iztaccíhuatl hasta llegar a en un paraje boscoso y de esplendida belleza que hasta hoy lleva el nombre de Paso de Cortés. Del otro lado, avistó por primera vez el lago de Tezcoco aproximándose a ella por el rumbo de Xochimilco.

Tenochtitlan [editar]

Este artículo o sección necesita fuentes o referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como libros de texto u otras publicaciones especializadas en el tema.

La Gran Tenochtitlan. Mural del Dr. Atl (1930)

La Gran Tenochtitlan. Mural del Dr. Atl (1930)

Artículo principal: Noche Triste

Hernán Cortés, en su marcha hacia México-Tenochtitlan, el ejército de Cortés (unos trescientos españoles) y el apoyo de unos 3.000 tlaxcaltecas avistó los volcanes Popocatepetl e Iztaccíhuatl. Y uno de los capitanes de Cortés, llamado Diego de Ordás fue el primer europeo en ascender a la cima del volcán Popocatepetl en compañía de dos compañeros de armas, causando una gran impresión entre los nativos que acompañaban la expedición de Cortés. Por tal hazaña y méritos militares, el emperador Carlos V le otorgó a Diego de Ordás mediante decreto expedido el 22 de octubre de 1523, el derecho de poseer un escudo de armas con una vista del volcán.

A la entrada de la ciudad, realizada el 8 de noviembre de 1519, se produjo el encuentro de Moctezuma y Cortés, haciendo de intérprete doña Marina. Moctezuma II creyó que los españoles eran enviados del dios que vendría del Este y fue un espléndido anfitrión de éstos. Mientras los españoles se quedaban en Tenochtitlan Moctezuma los hospedo en el templo de su antecesor Achayakal (en el palacio del padre de Moctezuma), pudiendo entonces admirar la grandiosidad de aquella ciudad. En los subsecuentes días los españoles serían llevados en tour a visitar los palacios y templos de la gran capital azteca, así como el gran cú (templo) de la ciudad gemela del imperio, Tlatelolco, y su mercado: una plaza de más del doble de grande que la Plaza Mayor de Salamanca (tenida entonces por la más grande de la cristiandad).

Residiendo los españoles en el palacio, se les ocurrió que ya era hora de tener capilla propia y, puesto que Moctezuma se había negado a que la erigieran en el cú de Huitzilopochtli, resolvieron levantarla en su alojamiento, previo permiso del emperador.

Buscaban los capitanes el mejor sitio para emplazarla cuando un soldado, que era carpintero, notó en una pared la existencia de una puerta tapiada y encalada de pocos días. Recordaron entonces que se susurraba que en aquellos aposentos tenía depositados Moctezuma los tesoros que había ido reuniendo su padre Axayácatl.

Monumento del Encuentro en Ciudad de Mexico.

Monumento del Encuentro en Ciudad de Mexico.

Allí entraron Cortés y algunos capitanes y tras la vista de un enorme tesoro ordenó que se volviera a tapiar. Debido a advertencias previas de los tlaxcaltecas, les empezó a inquietar entonces la posibilidad de ser asesinados. Cuatro capitanes y doce soldados se presentaron a Cortés para hacerle presente la conveniencia de prender al emperador, manteniéndole como rehén, para que respondiera con su vida de la vida del ejército. No se tomó de momento ningún acuerdo, pero una noticia precipitó la resolución.

Unos jefes mexicanos asaltaron Veracruz, donde mataron a Juan de Escalante, alguacil mayor, a seis españoles y a los aliados totonacas, lo que supuso un desprestigio para las armas españolas al ver que no eran semidioses y que podían ser vencidos. Un soldado llamado Argüello fue hecho prisionero, murió en el camino por las heridas de la guerra y su cabeza enviada al emperador azteca, quien no quiso colocarla en ningún templo.

Una vez que Moctezuma cayó en la celada de los españoles, Cortés lo tuvo como rehén so pena de muerte inmediata. Apaciguó a su guardia diciendo que iba de propia voluntad, y tras ser trasladados con los españoles todos sus enseres siguió manifestando a todas sus visitas que estaba allí de propia voluntad.

Cortés exigió que los caciques autores de la agresión a Veracruz fueran castigados. Llevados a su presencia, confirmaron que obedecían órdenes de Moctezuma. Los capitanes aztecas fueron sentenciados a morir en la hoguera.

Consiguió también que Moctezuma se declarase vasallo de Carlos V. La casta sacerdotal y la nobleza conjuraron para liberar a su señor y aniquilar a los españoles.

Lucha entre españoles [editar]

En esos días se recibió la noticia de la llegada de 18 navíos al Puerto de Veracruz, creyéndose en un principio que eran refuerzos del emperador, mas enseguida se supo que eran tropas mandadas por Diego de Velázquez para castigar a los rebeldes. Estas tropas estaban mandadas por Pánfilo de Narváez. Para colmo, pusieron sobre aviso a Moctezuma de que Cortés era un rebelde a su rey, y que lo matase. Así que Cortés no tuvo más remedio que dejar una guarnición de poco más de un centenar de españoles en Tenochtitlan al mando de Pedro de Alvarado, y él con trescientos españoles y varios cientos de indios, salió al encuentro de las tropas de Narváez. Cortés co

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Hernán Cortés, gobernador pre-virreinal de Nueva España's Timeline

1485
1485
Medellín, Extremadura, España
1515
1515
Age 30
Mexico
1519
1519
Age 34
1522
1522
Age 37
Coyoacan
1525
1525
Age 40
1526
1526
Age 41
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
1528
June 1528
Age 43
Probably Cuidad de Mexico, Reino de México, Reino de Nueva España
1530
1530
Age 45
Texcoco, Mexico
1532
1532
Age 47
Cuernavaca, Morelos Mexico
1533
1533
Age 48
Cuernavaca, Nueva España