Hernan Cortes

Hernan Cortes was a Spanish explorer who overthrew the Aztec empire and claimed most of Mexico for the crown of Spain. He also helped advance Spain’s position in North America in the 1500’s. He was born in 1485 in Medellin, Spain. His parents were Martin Cortes and Catalina Pizarro Altamirano.

His father was an officer in the Spanish army. He belonged to a lesser noble family in Spain. Hernan studied at the University of Salamanca for a time. His parents hoped that he would become a lawyer one day.


Quick Facts: –

  • Hernan Cortes first set sail to the New World at the age of 19. He later joined an expedition to Cuba.
  • On February 19th 1519 Hernan set sail for Mexico with a force of six hundred men and less than twenty horses.
  • In 1523, Hernan Cortes officially became the Governor and Captain General of New Spain.
  • In 1528 Cortes was forced to return to Spain amid Spanish feared that he was becoming too powerful.
  • In 1536 on his travels again he discovered the peninsula of California.
  • He established the town of La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz, and to prevent the possibility of desertion or retreat he burned all of his boats.
  • During his lifetime he was most commonly referred to as Hernando or Fernando Cortes.
  • He spent much of his later years seeking recognition for his achievements and support from the Spanish royal court.
  • He passed away on December 2nd 1547 near Seville. He was 62 years old at that time.