Hernán Cortés

Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés

Profession: Spanish Conquistador


Biography: Hernán Cortés was a Spanish Conquistador who is best known for leading an expedition that resulted in the downfall of the Aztec Empire. This expedition brought large parts of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century. Cortés' exploration and subsequent conquest of the Aztec Empire brought significant wealth and power to Spain and expanded the Spanish Empire.

Cortés' initial interaction with the Aztec people was marked by diplomacy. He was able to establish alliances with some indigenous peoples, notably the Tlaxcaltecas and other rivals of the Aztecs. These alliances played a critical role in the eventual fall of the Aztec Empire.

The meeting between Cortés and the Aztec emperor Montezuma II is one of the most famous encounters in history. While there are varying accounts of this meeting, it's generally accepted that Montezuma was taken prisoner by Cortés in his own palace. This event precipitated the rapid decline of the Aztec Empire.

Birthplace: Medellin, Castile, Spain

Died: December 2, 1547
Cause of Death: Pleurisy

Historical Events

  • 1519-02-18 Hernán Cortés leaves Cuba for the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico with 11 ships and 500 men
  • 1519-09-05 Second Battle of Tehuacingo, Mexico: Hernán Cortés' Spanish conquistadors fight the Tlaxcaltecas
  • 1519-11-08 1st meeting of Aztec Emperor moctezuma-ii">Moctezuma II and Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés in Tenochtitlan, Mexico
  • 1520-06-30 Spanish conquistadors are expelled from Tenochtitlan following an Aztec revolt against their rule under Hernán Cortés during "La Noche Triste" (the Night of Sadness). Many soldiers drown in the escape, and Aztec emperor moctezuma-ii">Moctezuma II dies in the struggle
  • 1520-07-07 Battle of Otumba, Mexico: Hernán Cortés and the Tlaxcalans defeat a numerically superior Aztec force
  • 1521-08-13 Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés capture Aztec Emperor Cuauhtémoc in Tenochtitlan marking the end of the Aztec Empire
  • 1522-10-15 Emperor Karel I names Hernán Cortés governor of Mexico
  • 1529-07-06 Conquistador Hernán Cortés granted lands and title of Marquisate of the Oaxaca Valley by Spanish King Charles V

Biographies and Sources

Famous Conquistadors