Tuesday, March 9, 2010
04 Hernan Cortes
After the New World was discovered, European settelers started to move west. The perfect place for the Spanish to move to was Cuba, a large Spanish colony. With all these new settelers moving to Cuba, Cuban governor Diego Velásquez, need to find more land and slave labor. To accomplish this, Velásquez sent out trips in 1516 and 1518 to explore the mainland of America. These trips, although unsuccessful, indicated a wealthy civilization just beyond the reach of the Spanish. Velásquez chose Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) to lead the trip. Leaving Cuba on February 18, 1519, Cortes went to the New World with 16 horsemen and 400 soldiers. On his way to explore, Cortes renounced Velásquez's authority and created his own city, Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. After telling Charles V of Spain his plan of conquering the ungodly people of America, Cortes set out with two translators towards the greatest American nation, the Aztecs, convincing natives along the way to fight with him against their Aztec overlords. When Cortes reached the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, the Aztec emperor, Montezuma welcomed Cortes as Quetzalcoatlin, an Aztec god from prophesy. After Cortes and his men took Montezuma prisoner for a ransom of gold, a confusing mash of battles with Velásquez's men occured, Cortes' men massacred Aztec citizens during a sacred Aztec ceromony, Montezuma accidentally was killed, small pox spread throughout the Aztec nation, and Cortes finally gained control of Tenochtitlan. After Cortes claimed the empire for Spain, Velásquez got jealous and undermined Cortes' reputaion until King Charles V didn't even recognize Cortes. Although he wasn't credited with his great task, Cortes makes the great list of explorers for being the first explorer to find the Aztec Empire and took the first empire for a European country, leaving his mark on the world forever.