Hernando Cortes Accomplishments

Hernando Cortes, born Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, was a Spanish soldier turned conqueror of Mexico. His life story was the epitome of rags to riches, driven by his ambition and thirst for gold. While some people laud him for his extraordinary leadership and bravery, he was also known for his brutality, particularly in the conquest of the Aztecs.

1. Contributed in the Spanish Conquest of Cuba

In 1511, Cortes joined the expedition of Diego Velasquez to help Spain conquer Cuba. The latter became Cuba’s governor who, in turn, appointed Cortes as his secretary. In 1518, Cortes became the mayor of the capital of Cuba, Santiago, before he was elected captain of the 3rd expedition to the mainland. During these times, he managed to amass wealth and power, and became known as a bold and daring leader in Cuba.

2. Conquered the Aztec Empire

In 1521, Cortes invaded one of the world’s largest and most powerful civilizations, the Aztec Empire. How he managed to conquer it is something out of a spy movie, laced with deception and a bit of luck.

When Cortes arrived in Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the empire, the Aztecs thought they were receiving the gods sent by Quetzalcoatl, the local’s most powerful god, because prophecy was supposed to send men with white skin. By the time the Aztecs realized their mistake, Cortes has already captured Emperor Montezuma, and held him hostage for ransom. He was murdered still, although no one knows the culprit. Enraged, the Aztecs started a rebellion, driving Cortes and the Spaniards from the city.

But it didn’t take long before he managed to recruit a large army. As it happens, the people of Mexico was against the brutal rituals that the Aztecs observed, and were more than happy to help Cortes. Within 3 months, he managed to capture the city and later built a new capital, which would become known as Mexico City, right over the ruins of the Aztec Empire’s capital city.

3. Contributed Reforms in Mexico City

Following the conquest of the Aztec Empire, Cortes was granted governorship, where he instituted many economic reforms. He achieved peace for a short time when he repaired relations with the natives. Founding cities and expanding the Spanish crown’s influence, he became the first to establish what would later be known as the New Spain.

He evangelized and converted many of the locals into Christianity. He exported sugar to Spain and African slaves to Mexico. He developed farmland and mines that significantly helped improve the local economy. These were also the means where he created more export opportunities, effectively increasing the wealth of the region.

Born a pauper, Hernan Cortes died a nobleman with the title 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca. He will go down in history as a renowned Spanish conqueror, even when his name was tainted with the rape and pillage of the Aztec Empire. Cortes achieved one of the greatest things anyone in the world could ever want – to be remembered as someone great.

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