Hernan Cortes

Spanish Conquistador

Places Discovered

Sailed for the Spanish (1518-1521)

In 1518, Cortes was put in charge of exploring the interior of Mexico for colonization by the Spanish. At the last moment, Cortes was told that he no longer had the charter to sail to Mexico. However, Cortes ignored these orders and sailed anyway. He sailed with eleven ships, five hundred men, thirteen horses, and a multitude of cannons. In March of 1519, Cortes claimed the land for the Spanish empire. As he made his way through the land, Cortes hired more soldiers and acquired more horses for his group. He then won a battle against the Native Americans of the area in Tabasco.

Amazing Feats

By July of 1519, Cortes officially took over Veracruz. In October of 1519, he marched to the second largest city in central Mexico, Cholula. Here, he massacred thousands of individuals and set fire to the city.


Born around 1485, Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who defeated the Aztec empire and claimed Mexico for Spain. He first set sail to the New World at the age of 19. Cortés later joined an expedition to Cuba. In 1518, he set off to explore Mexico. There he strategically aligned some native peoples against others to overthrow them. King Charles I appointed him governor of New Spain in 1522. Cortés died in Spain in 1547.

Destroying Tenochtitlan

Saturday, Aug. 13th 1521 at 8am

Tenochtitlán, Mexico

Tenochtitlán, Ver.

Another expedition was sent to Mexico to oppose Cortes, under the rule of Panfilo de Narvaaz. Despite this second expedition’s greater numbers, Cortes was able to conquer them and convince the members to join his group. After a number of misfortunes, Cortes destroyed the city of Tenochtitlan and captured the ruler of the city on August, 13, 1521. This marked the end of the Aztec Empire, and the land was claimed for Spain.


Hernan Cortes was smart. He was educated growing up. But he was very cruel.

Purpose and Outcome of Voyage

Cortes' primary goal was to explore and eventually conquer the Aztec Empire. The outcome is that he conquered Mexico, explored the Pacific Coast of Central America and the Baja Peninsula of California.