Skip to comments.Hernan Cortez - Conquerer of Mexico (Sunday History Read)
Posted on 10/06/2002 9:01:39 AM PDT by Hacksaw
Cortez was the Spanish conquistador who conquered Mexico.
Cortez was born in Spain. At the age of 19 he sailed for Hispaniola. With Diego Velazquez he conquered Cuba and settled there until 1518 when Velazquez appointed him to lead an expedition to Mexico. With his force of 700 men he landed on the coast of Mexico and founded the settlement of Veracruz. Cortez burned his ships behind him, thereby committing his entire force to survival through conquest.
Cortez moved to Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), the capital of the powerful Aztec Indians. The Aztecs had conquered most of the surrounding tribes. Montezuma, the Aztec ruler received the Spaniards graciously, but was made prisoner and used by Cortez to rule the country. The Aztecs, angered by Montezuma's submission, revolted and forced the Spaniards to withdraw. But Cortez received reinforcements from the West Indies and from many Indian groups who hated the Aztecs because of their cruelty. With this increased army, Cortez captured Tenochtitlan in 1521 and terminated the Aztec empire. For many years Cortez governed Mexico, then called New Spain, but in 1540 he fell out of favor with the king of Spain. He returned to Spain to plead his case in vain. He died in a small village near Seville.
Actually, Cortez' history has been pretty well known for a very long time. He was a militaristic conqueror, but far kinder to those he conquered than the Aztecs, who were their only alternative. Brutal by modern standards, but not unusually so for his day.
He was also an amazing risk taker - willing to gamble his own life repeatedly. People forget that Cortez' troops did not have such a great advantage in military technology over the Aztecs. The musket wasn't invented yet. He had a few primitive firearms and a few crossbows - in the tens, not hundreds. Otherwise his men fought hand-to-hand, Cortez included.
His victory over the Aztecs heavily relied on his diplomacy with Aztec client kingdoms, exploiting their hatred of the Aztecs to build a large army. It was truly a phenominal acheivement in military history. In it's own way, more impressive than the conquests of Alexander or Caesar.
It's time we celebrate the fact that the rulers of Spain, England, France, Holland and the rest had the greed or foresight to sponsor these expeditions which led to what we are today.
As for who's worse Monty or Cortez, I think it's an open debate question and not worth much time.
If possible, the Aztecs were even more disgusting than we've been led to believe. Their priests had cloaks of human skin, blood-smeared rooms, sprinkled blood on food like sauce, captured Spanish (after they were sacrificed) would have their faces flayed off to make masks (leaving the beards intact); they also chopped the heads off any horses that they killed or captured for display. Displaying the severed heads of captured Spanish also disheartened many of the Indian allies who were with Cortes.
It's not PC to say so nowadays, but even the brutality and enslavement of the Spanish conquistadors was a definite improvement over the bloody rule by sacrificial terror of the Aztecs.
I agree. I would not be able to get my ham radio to work without it.
This little fact often gets left out. The Aztecs gave barbarians a bad name. Aside from the human sacrifice, which can, perhaps, justified in that they thought that by doing so they were saving the world, they had their neighbors for dinner, a habit that endears you to no one.
The Aztec "culture" is one of the few I can find nothing good to say about.
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity ... " - Anne Coulter - 2001.
"Then send their women to South Florida" - Yakboy (Err...when I was single.)
Actually, this was the compromise position worked out on illegal immigrants on the Howie Carr show the other day: throw them all out, but let the good-looking women stay!
Didn't they all? Columbus also feel out of favor and ended up in prison.
Whatever he had it wasn't much.
In the spring of 1519 a Spanish expedition of eleven ships set sail from Cuba. On board were 508 soldiers, 16 horses, and several pieces of artillery.
Blast from the Past. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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"The epidemic of cocoliztli from 1545 to 1548 killed an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population of Mexico (Figure 1). In absolute and relative terms the 1545 epidemic was one of the worst demographic catastrophes in human history, approaching even the Black Death of bubonic plague, which killed approximately 25 million in western Europe from 1347 to 1351 or about 50% of the regional population."
"The cocoliztli epidemic from 1576 to 1578 cocoliztli epidemic killed an additional 2 to 2.5 million people, or about 50% of the remaining native population."
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