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1491-1607: Period 1

Terms in this set (64)

a Spanish explorer and conquistador who set sail from Cuba in 1519 with sixteen horses, several hundred men, and eleven ships in an effort to gain access to the Aztecs' gold in Mexico. On the island, Cozumel, off the Yucatán peninsula, he rescued a Spanish castaway who had been enslaved by the Mayan-speaking Indians. Not long after, he took in female Indian slave, Malinche, who knew both Mayan and Nahuatl (language of the powerful Aztec rulers). Near present day Vera Cruz, Cortés made his final landfall. With the help of his interpreters, he learned of issues within the Aztec empire among the peoples from whom were demanded tribute by the Aztecs and of tales of gold stored in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán. With a gathered force of some twenty thousand Indian allies, he marched on Tenochtitlán. Cortés turned away welcoming gifts from the Aztec chieftain and asked directly for passage into the capital and gold. Thinking the conquistador was Quetzalcoatl, a god whose return from the eastern sea was predicted in Aztec legends, the chieftain granted passage to the incredible city that couldn't compare to any European one on the standards of beauty or architecture. At first, the chieftain expressed hospitality to Cortés but soon, the conquistador's greedy hunger for gold grew too large to bear. The Aztecs attempted to drive him and his men out on June 30, 1520 but, Cortés laid siege on the city and it capitulated on August 13, 1521 as a result of disease and the conquistador's wrath. (Cortés intermarried with surviving Indians, creating a unique culture of mestizos)