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Corts Hernn or Cortez Hernando 1485-1547 Spanish explorer and conqueror of the Aztec Empire of Mexico Corts was born in Medelln Extremadura He studied law at the University of Salamanca but cut short his university career in 1501 and decided to try his fortune in the New World He sailed for Santo Domingo in the spring of 1504 In 1511 he joined the Spanish soldier and administrator Diego Velzquez in the conquest of Cuba and subsequently became alcalde mayor of Santiago de Cuba In 1518 he persuaded Velzquez who had beco1me governor of Cuba to give him the command of an expedition to Mexico The mainland had been discovered the year before by the Spanish soldier and explorer Francisco Fernndez de Crdoba and subsequently by Juan de Grijalva nephew of Velzquez On February 19 1519 Corts with a force of some 600 men fewer than 20 horses and 10 field pieces set sail from Cuba despite the cancellation of his commission by Velzquez who had become suspicious that Corts once in a position to establish himself independently would refuse to recognize his authority Corts sailed along the coast of Yucatn and in March 1519 landed in Mexico subjugating the town of Tabasco the artillery of the Spaniards the ships and particularly the horses filled the natives with awe From the natives of Tabasco Corts learned of the Aztec Empire and its ruler Montezuma II Corts took numerous captives one of whom Malinche baptized Marina became his mistress out of loyalty to him she acted as the interpreter guide and counselor for the Spaniards Finding a better harbor a little north of San Juan the Spaniards moved there and established a town La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz now Veracruz Corts organized an independent government and renouncing the authority of Velzquez acknowledged only the supreme authority of the Spanish crown In order to prevent those of his small force who opposed this movement from deserting
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