Hernan Cortes Expedition Summary

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In 1518 Hernan Cortes was in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. At the last minute, due to an old argument between Cortes and Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, de Cuellar changed his mind and revoked Cortes’s charter. Cortes ignored the order, committed mutiny, and went on the expedition anyway in February 1519. Cortes landed in Mayan territory, and found Geronimo de Aguilar, a Spanish Franciscan priest who survived a shipwreck. de Aguilar was captured by the Maya, and was able to learn the Chontal Maya language and translated for Cortes. After claiming the land for the Spanish crown, Cortes journeyed inland. In modern-day Tabasco, they won a battle against the people. The vanquished Chontal Maya…show more content…
La Malinche became Cortes’s mistress and the mother of what is thought to the first mixed race child of Mesoamerica. La Malinche knew both the Nahuatl language and Chontal Maya, and was able to assist Cortes in communicating with the natives through de Aguilar. Cortes marched across the land to meet Montezuma ll, the ruler of the Aztecs living in Tenochtitlan. As he crossed the land, he killed the people who defied him, and formed allies with others, such as the Totonacs of Cempoala and the Nahuas of Tlaxcala. Many people joined to defeat their tyrannical overlord Montezuma. Surrounded by the native people he had gained on his journey, Cortes attacked the city of Cholula, the second largest city in central Mexico. Thousands of people were massacred in the city center. On November 8, 1519, Cortes and Montezuma ll met peacefully. Montezuma gave exuberant gifts of gold to the Spaniards, which excited their appetite for lavish goods rather than assuage them. Shortly after, Cortes learned the men he had left at the coast were killed by some natives, and took Montezuma captive, leading the people through him. Cortes then left to address Velazquez who had sent an expedition to oppose Cortes, leaving men in…show more content…
Cortes himself told people back in Spain that Montezuma didn’t attack his men due to him being Quetzalcoatl born in human form. This was part of Cortes’s attempt to justify his attack on the people of Tenochtitlan. If Montezuma thought at any point that Cortes was a god, he would have quickly realized Cortes didn’t speak the language or know anything a god would know. Another theory centers around Montezuma being scared of Cortes when the news reached him of the strange ships and people. In reality, Montezuma was cocky, confident, and calculating. At the very least, Montezuma may have thought Cortes was coming to make an alliance after killing some of the Aztec’s enemies. In his book and subsequent movie, Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond blames the ease of Spanish conquest on the differences between Spanish and indigenous weaponry. However, the guns used by the Spanish were rudimentary and was a timely process to load. The steel of the swords mixed with the horses the Spanish had brought were easily dodged. The weapons used by the natives were made of extremely sharp obsidian and when examined, most of the wounds received in battles between them were from indigenous weapons. The Spaniards brought new diseases and illnesses with them. The people of Tenochtitlan had no protection or antibodies against the biological warfare. However, the diseases, such as smallpox, had preceded the Spaniard’s arrival

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