Welcome to another article of Facts King! On this occasion, we will talk about a man who as really important for the Spanish and Mexican history, Hernán Cortés, a famous Conquistador. His life was full of brave actions and controversies, so let’s start with his background so you can discover all the interesting facts about Hernán Cortés.
Who is Hernán Cortés?
Hernán Cortés was part of the first group of Conquistadors in the Americas. A Conquistador was a Spanish or Portuguese soldier that went from Europe to other territories to conquer them and take advantage of their riches. Hernán Cortés did this in Mexico, in the times where the Aztec Empire was occupying the land.
Cortés’ father, a Spanish nobleman, wanted him to study law but he decided to become an explorer and go to the Americas to seek fame and fortune. He spent a while in the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola before he led an unauthorized expedition to Mexico. Once the Aztec Empire was defeated, he became “Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca”. However, the new king, Charles V, ordered him to go back to Spain because they were going to send royal authorities there. He went back in 1541 and died there a few years later.
Interesting Facts about Hernán Cortés
1. Even if he didn’t pursue a career in law, what he learned would be really useful later in his conquering expeditions.
When Cortés was 14, his father sent him to Salamanca to study law. He did some preparatory studies, studied Latin with an uncle, and worked as a notary, but he ended up quitting his studies to pursue his dream of going to the Americas.
Some people believe he studied law at University of Salamanca, but this is a myth. Cortés only spent two years in the Spanish city and didn’t go to university. However, what he learned there would be useful in the future. He used the knowledge he got to vindicate the disobedience he made in Cuba that led to the conquest of Mexico.
2. He didn’t use the name “Hernán”.
It is believed that at some point of history writers shortened the names he used to “Hernán”. Cortés actually signed as Hernando” or “Fernando”.
3. Hernán Cortés was a distant relative of Francisco Pizarro.
Cortés conquering desires were in his blood! Because of his mom, Catalina Pizarro y Altamirano, he was a distant relative of Francisco Pizarro. Pizarro was the one who defeated the Inca Empire and conquered Peru.
4. He was married twice and had 11 children, but half of them were the result of extramarital relationships.
He was first married with to Catalina Juárez, who was infertile. Between 1514 and 1528, he had five children: three girls and two boys. Three of them were the result of his relationships with indigenous women. He recognized all of them.
Then, in 1528, he married Juana Ramírez de Arellano y Zúñiga, with whom he had six children: two boys and four girls. The first two died shortly after birth.
5. It is believed that he murdered his first wife.
Everything happened in 1522 when Cortés was having a party in a house he had in Mexico and his wife visited him. Hours after the party was over, Cortés found her dead in her bed and said she died of asthma.
However, the servants tell a different story. They say the couple had a fight during the party because of a comment Cortés did about a woman. They also said that her corpse had strangulation marks and that there were signs of a fight in the bedroom. Catalina’s family sued Cortés but the case was dismissed. This is a controversial fact about Hernán Cortés.
6. The conquest of Mexico was the result of disobedience in Cuba.
Cortés was part of the conquest expedition of Cuba, which was led by Diego Velázquez. In 1518, after seven years on the island, Velázquez gave Cortés the command of an expedition to Mexico, the third one he would send.
Nevertheless, Velázquez wasn’t sure about him and became envious, because he had great abilities and got 300 men to join him in just a month. This is why he decided to assign another commander, but Cortés was determined to go to Mexico. He got more men, 11 ships, 14 artillery pieces, 16 horses and went to Mexico in 1519.
7. His strategy to conquer Mexico was really clever.
After a coupleof battles in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cortés started to explore the land and heard about the Mexica Empire. He went there with the company of an indigenous woman, Marina or “La Malinche”. She became his interpreter, ally and lover. She was really smart and her knowledge about the indigenous customs was key in the conquest.
Cortés took advantage of the conflict that the different indigenous groups had. He made alliances with the enemies of some groups, and used the intelligence of Marina to conquer Mexico.
8. Hernán Cortés discovered the Baja California Peninsula.
In a group of expeditions he did, Cortés discovered the Baja California Peninsula, in 1536. He also explored the territories of the Gulf of California and California. This exploration was part of the last important expedition Cortés did.
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about Hernán Cortés Facts. For more information, visit historical people page.