Hernan Cortez (Hernando Cortes)

Hernan Cortez led the initial Spanish expeditions to the map of Mexico in the early 16th century.

The iconic commander had a powerful impact on the progression and development of history throughout the country. The Spanish introduced a range of their own traditional concepts to the Mexican people that they encountered. There was a focus on customs and ideals related to language, religion, currency, food and clothing.

Commander Hernan Cortez is often attributed as being a pivotal figure in the eventual fall of the Aztec Empire. He set out on his initial expedition in 1518. The Yucatan Peninsula was the focus of the early trips. However amongst widespread political confusion Cortes was initially ordered to recall his voyage at the last minute by the then Governor of Cuba, Diego Velasquez.

The commander decided to refuse the order from his superior and continued
on his journey ashore to the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexican culture was set to change considerably following this initial Spanish expedition.

A Statue of Hernan Cortez

The Spanish Allegiance

Hernanado Cortes initially formed allegiances with the two main Mexican civilizations at the time, the Aztecs and Tlaxcalteca. It seems that he was quite a complex character and his motives and actions over the following years are definitely open to debate.

Cortez fought battles in 1519 in Tabasco and Veracruz, by doing this he again challenged the orders of Velasquez and could therefore be accused of mutiny. He argued however that he was acting in the best interests of Spain and should be rewarded for his actions.

The Commander worked with interpreters to understand the various Mexican languages of the time. He formed allegiances with groups of indigenous people and used these allegiances to negotiate himself into a place of power and influence. He developed strategies of allying with certain groups against others.

Spanish Shi

The Progression of The Aztecs

Hernan Cortez aligned the strength of his considerable army with the Tlaxcallan people. The Tlaxcallan Civilization were generally known as a bitter enemy of the Aztec Empire. In 1520 and 1521, the Spaniards and Tlaxcallan allies combined to attack and overthrow the Aztecs.

It is still debated as to who provoked the initial battles and warfare.

However the eventual outcome was the beginning of the end to Aztec history throughout the country.

Hernan Cortez travelled back to Spain and then back again to Mexico on a few different occasions.

He died of illness in Spain in 1547 when he was 62 years of age.

It is thought that he left instruction in his will to look after his various children and the mothers of his children. As I mentioned before, the character and nature of the great Commander and his expeditions are really open to interpretation. He definitely made an impact on historical events but it probably depends on which account you consider as to whether his intentions were good, bad or somewhere in between.

Return to Mexican People

Return to Mexican History

Return to Riviera Maya Home Page

Easter in Mexico

Church Bells

Food Origins

Crops growing in a field

Map of Mexico

Small map of Mexico

Mexican Religion

Close-Up View of Church in Mexico

Aztec History

Small Close-Up image of Aztec Calendar