Spanish conqueror of Mexico (Medellín, Badajoz, 1485 - Castilleja de la Cuesta, Sevilla, 1547).Coming from a family of nobles of Extremadura, Hernán Cortés studied briefly at the University of Salamanca. In 1504 went to India recently discovered by Columbus and was established as a clerk and landed in the Spanish (Santo Domingo). Participated in the expedition to Cuba in 1511 as secretary to the governor, Diego Velasquez, who became related by marriage to his sister and who appointed him mayor of the new city of Santiago.
In 1518 Diego Velazquez gave to Hernán Cortés the command of an expedition to Yucatan, but the governor was suspicious of Cortés, who had once imprisoned on charges of conspiracy, and decided to relieve him of the order before leaving. Cortés warned accelerated the departure and went to sea before receiving the notification (1519).
With eleven ships, about six hundred men, 16 horses and 14 pieces of artillery, Hernan Cortes sailed from Santiago to Cozumel and Tabasco, where he defeated the Maya and other gifts he received, the Indian Mrs Marina, which will serve as mistress adviser and interpreter during the entire campaign.
Disobeying express orders of Governor Velázquez, founded on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the city of Villa Rica de la Veracruz. There he learned of the existence of the Aztec empire in the interior, whose capital is said to be kept great treasures, and hastened to his conquest.
To avoid the temptation to return that threatened many of his men to the obvious outnumbered their ships sank Hernan Cortes in Veracruz. He managed the alliance of some indigenous peoples subjected to the Aztecs, like the Toltecs and Tlaxcala. Cholula Sack, reached the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, where he was received peacefully by the Emperor Moctezuma, who declared himself a vassal of the King of Castile. The possible identification of the Spanish with divine beings and Cortez with the announced return of the god Quetzalcoatl favored perhaps this host to some foreigners who immediately began to behave as invaders ambitious and violent.
Then he had to leave the city to his deputy Alvarado, to meet the troops of Panfilo de Narvaez, sent by the governor Velázquez to punish their rebellion and return to Cuba, Cortes defeated Cempoala and managed to join him most part of the quota (1520). When he returned to Tenochtitlán, he found a large Indian agitation against the Spanish because of the attacks their beliefs and religious symbols and the killing of his nobles by Alvarado to thwart an alleged conspiracy. He Montezuma prisoner and tried to mediate it to calm his people, without achieving anything other than the emperor's death.