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Hernán Cortés: Conqueror of the Aztecs

Hernán Cortés was a Spanish conquistador, or conqueror, who is best remembered for conquering the Aztec Empire in 1521 and claiming Mexico for Spain. He also helped colonize Cuba and became a governor of New Spain, a vast area that included large parts of North, Central and South America, as well as several Pacific island archipelagos. 

“Like many explorers we know about today, Hernán (also known as Hernando) Cortés’s role in the Age of Exploration was influential but controversial,” said Erika Cosme, formerly the administrative coordinator of education and digital services at The Mariners’ Museum and Park (opens in new tab) in Newport News, Virginia. “He was a smart, ambitious man who wanted to appropriate new land for the Spanish crown, convert Native inhabitants to Catholicism and plunder the lands for gold and riches.”

Early life

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