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Hernando Cortez was born in the small town of Medellin in southwestern Spain in 1485 When he was about 18 he sailed for the island of Hispaniola then the Spanish headquarters in the West Indies He was a soldier and a farmer before he sailed for Diego Velasquez to help conquer Cuba in 1511 Velasquez became the governor and Cortez was elected mayor-judge of Santiago When Juan de Grijalva reported his discovery of Mexico in 1518 Velasquez picked Cortez to build a colony there Velasquez soon suspected Cortez would go beyond his orders and cancelled the expedition Unfortunately for Velasquez Cortez had already assembled men and equipment and set sail He rounded the peninsula at Yucatan and touched Mexico on the coast of what is now the state of Tabasco During the battle with Indians there he took many captives including a young Aztec princess She became his interpreter and advisor Cortez continued up the coast On April 211519 he landed near the site of Veracruz There to prevent all thought of retreat he burned his ships Leaving a small force on the coast Cortez led the rest of his men into the interior A warlike tribe of natives attacked his party The Indians outnumbered the Spaniards 300 to 1 On November 8 1519 Cortez reached Tenochtitlan now Mexico City and was graciously received by Montezuma the Aztec emperor Soon after Cortez established headquarters in the capital he learned that the Aztecs had plundered Veracruz He seized Montezuma and forced him to surrender the attackers Then he had them executed Meanwhile Velasquez had sent 1400 soldiers to arrest Cortez and bring him back to Cuba Cortez defeated this army and most of the survivors joined Cortez He returned to the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan As Cortez and his men reached the heart of the city they were attacked by thousands of Aztec warriors Montezuma was brought out to pacify his people but
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