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Cortes and the Conquest of the Aztecs The Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs stands as one of the most significant and influential turning points of the western world It opened the way for European colonization and brought forth vast changes on the new world that are still felt today It changed the culture religion and entire way of life for the inhabitants and descendants of the entire region of central America Lanning 1996 Since the late 1400s Spanish explorers had been charting and claiming parts of the new world for the throne of Spain One of these explorers was Hernando Cortes who first came to the new world at the age of nineteen to seek out his fortune Cortes was born in Medellin Spain in 1485 At the age of fourteen he went to the University of Salamanca to study law but showed little interest in his studies He first sailed to the new world in 1504 He received a grant of land to farm and also became a notary due to his legal training He often went out on expeditions to put down native rebellions which familiarized him with the tactics of the natives After taking part in the conquest of Cuba Cortes became the mayor of Santiago This however did not satisfy the gold hungry Cortes On February 10 1519 Cortes set off on an expedition into Mexico that consisted of 508 swordsmen 100 sailors 32 crossbowmen 11 musketeers 10 brass canons 4 small canons 16 horses and a number of dogs Cortess first challenge was to pick up translators that could interpret the strange language of the natives After defeating a small group of natives near present day Tobasco the Spaniards were given gifts of gold and twenty women One of the women spoke Mayan and Nahuatl the language of the Aztecs Cortes also picked up a Spanish prisoner who could speak Mayan So when Cortes landed near the present
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