This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Hernan Cortes Essay

4248 words - 17 pages

Hernan Cortes

Myths are "hangups from way back":[1] false or highly inaccurate beliefs that are taken at face value. One collection of myths which has exercised a powerful grip on the minds of many, and contributed to feelings of inferiority on the part of large numbers of "pure" or "mixed" descendants of Native Americans in the region of northern Mesoamerica,2 has to do with the conquest of the "Aztec Empire" by HernanCortes and his followers in the early sixteenth century. This paper attempts to shatter one of these myths; namely, that Cortes was an extraordinarily brave and intelligent individual who accomplished an almost miraculous feat. It will do so by making use of the twin concepts of virtu and fortuna.

These two terms are basic to Niccolo Machiavelli's thought. For this (in)famous political theorist, the "wheel of fortune" is an ever-present phenomenon in human affairs--- even though its effects can be controlled via the application of what he calls virtu. It is difficult to specify the meaning of this word, as it encompasses a wide range of qualities (including bravery, cunning and prudence) that need to be handled with great flexibility in order for a person or social group to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.[3]

The Spanish conquistador HernanCortes is considered to be an outstanding example of a man possessed of virtu.[4] My contention is that the latter's virtu was insufficient for him to be able to control the effects of fortuna. Granted, Cortes faced favorable circumstances on several occasions and took advantage of these. However, at other times conditions were adverse and he was unable to surmount them. In what follows, I analyze several events that occurred during and after the so-called Conquest of Mexico in order to show that Cortes' political achievements were more modest than is generally believed.[5]

Cortes in Totonacapan

During his stay in the region of Totonacapan,[6] Cortes took two audacious decisions: to destroy the majority of his ships in order to force his men to follow him; and to embark on a march to Tenochtitlan, passing first through Tlaxcallan. Both decisions were based on his ignorance of the actual power of the Triple Alliance and the confederation of Tlaxcallan.[7]

Cortes underestimated these two because of his early experiences in Mesoamerica. Although they initially tried to avoid confrontations with the native communities, the Spaniards had to engage in several battles against a coalition of Maya armies near Potonchan (located in the present-day state of Tabasco). However, they were able to win these battles thanks to the superiority of their weapons and military tactics.

The outcome of these skirmishes was quickly known! by the Triple Alliance. As a result, when Cortes arrived in the region of Totonacapan, this alliance opted in favor of a strategy of deterrence rather than war. Envoys sent by Tenochtitlan established contact with Cortes and presented him with a...

Find Another Essay On Hernan Cortes

Hernan Cortes Essay

3068 words - 12 pages Conqueror of Mexico, b. at Medellin in Spain c. 1485; d. at Castilleja de la Cuesta near Seville, 2 December, 1547. He was married first to Catalina Xuares, from which marriage there was no issue, and, after her death, to Doña Juana de Zuñiga, niece of the Duke of Bejar. From this union there sprang four children, one son (Martín) and three daughters. His parents were Martín Cortés de Monroy and Catalina Pizarro Altamirano, both of honourable

The Impact of Expectations Upon Marco Polo and Hernan Cortes

2525 words - 10 pages Human history is filled with the names of bold explorers who ventured into the great unknown, only to come out basked in glory as some of the great heroes of their day. Among the grandest are Marco Polo, who provided little known information about the Far East to Europeans, and Hernan Cortes, the great Spanish conquistador who is given credit for the defeat of the Mexica Empire. These two famous explorers are also ideal case

Biography of Hernan Cortes

802 words - 4 pages Hernán Cortés was born in the city of Medellí, Spain in 1485. Medellí is in the Badajoz province of Spain. The Badajoz province is known for being the largest province in size in Spain and has 134 municipalities. Cortés was born to Martín Cortés de Monroy and Catalina Pizarro Altamirano. His parents were not of a high class, so he had to go to school to get an education to bring home money. At the age of sixteen, Hernán was tired of going to

Hernando Cortes's life and Times

954 words - 4 pages (1485-1547)Cortes' Childhood Cortes was born in Medellin, Extremadura, Spain in 1485. Cortes was of low Spanish nobility. His name is pronounced as [kohr-tez', air-nahn']. Cortes has many different names like Hernan Cortes, Hernando Cortes and Hernando Cortez. Cortes had many names but his main name was Hernan Cortes.At the age of 14, Cortes studied law at the University of Salamanca. But in 1501 he quit university to try to find his

Hernando Cortez

1207 words - 5 pages called they are Hernan and Fernando. Cortes was second cousins once removed to the famous conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who conquered the Incan empire in Peru. Cortes married the sister in law of governor Velasquez while living in Cuba. He had a child with Dona Marina, his interpreter. When Cortes was in Mexico he discovered Baja California, and the Gulf of California which used to be called the Sea of Cortes. The following is a timeline about what

The Spanish Conquest

1587 words - 6 pages had reached the height of it’s power. Who was Hernan Cortés? Born in 1485, Hernan Cortes was the son of a Spanish nobleman. He attended university at Salamanca but had a reputation for not working very hard. When he was 19, he moved to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which was then a growing Spanish settlement. About six years later, he took part in the conquest of Cuba under the command of Diego de Velasquez. How did he come to find the

Hispanic VS. Native View Of The Aztec Conquest

1646 words - 7 pages provide us with what many call "The True History of the Conquest of New Spain".Every source has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. An examination of these sources are required for anyone to come to a conclusion of each source's own bias, and to dertmine a conclusion of their accuracy. Hernan Cortes took the credit for the accounts of the expedition, and for many years his word was the truth for many, especially for those back in Spain. They

The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Civilization

728 words - 3 pages destroyed, the survivors continue to pass down stories of the mighty Aztecs, as well as those of their vicious defeat. Bibliography: Works Cited: Cortes, Hernan. Letters from Mexico. Trans. and Ed. Anthony Pagden. New Haven: Yale UP, 1986. · Leon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. The Broken Spears. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992

Mexico City

599 words - 2 pages of Mexico City at the time of construction, Hernan Cortes had ordered and founded the hospital. It was constructed in 1524 to assist in the treatment of the soldiers who were wounded while fighting in wars against the Aztecs. The hospital became known as hospital de Jesus, when construction began for the temple next door, the Church of Jesus the Nazarene in 1587. The temple was completed in 1622. Now serving as a place where the wounded could

Montezuma and The Tragic Night

1145 words - 5 pages Mexican culture (Biography in Context, Moctezuma II). While Montezuma was leading a golden age, Spanish noble Hernan Cortes (Cortez in some sources) was busy conquering lands. Starting in 1504, he sailed to Hispaniola and started to conquer Hispaniola, Cuba (1511), and similar countries. He then set out in 1519 to the coast of Yucatan, conquering the Indians of Tabasco in the Bay of Campeche with only 500 soldiers, 100 sailors, and 16 horses. On his

The Aztec Empire

1237 words - 5 pages Who were the Aztecs? Why were they considered to be an empire even greater than the Romans? And how was Hernan Cortes able to defeat them? These are some of the questions that people ask about these indigenous people. These people are known as the Aztecs but originally called themselves Mexica. They came to Mexico in the early thirteenth century and from there they started to develop a social structure and government consisting of priests

Similar Essays

Hernan Cortes Essay

736 words - 3 pages Hernan Cortes conquered all of the Aztecs and created a great new city that is present day Mexico City. Cortes sailed to Cuba from Spain and then from Cuba to Mexico where he found the Aztecs. He was going Mexico to find riches, land, and power for Spain. He accomplished all three of those things. He created one of the first civilization in the New World, which in the future would become a great and grand city. Hernan Cortes was the most

Hernan Cortes Essay

667 words - 3 pages Hernan (also Hernando or Fernando) Cortes was born in Medellin, Estramadura, in Spain in 1485 to a family of minor nobility. Cortes was sent to study law at the University of Salamanca. In 1501 He left school to fight in a military expedition but became ill and was forced to stay behind. In 1504 he left to seek fortune in the West Indies, eventually joining Diego Velazquez in the conquest of Cuba. Velazquez was a Spanish soldier and

Hernan Cortes Entries Tenochtitlan Essay

919 words - 4 pages After the discovery of the new world, by Christopher Columbus, rapidly the Europeans navigate from their countries to the new world in search of gold and precious rocks that have a value for their kings or queens. Hernan Cortes, born in Medellin, Spain, was a conquistador mainly best known as the conquistador that found Tenochtitlan, which is now call Mexico City. During the conquista Bernal del Castillo and Hernán Cortés describe the struggles

Hernan Cortes Advertsing Essay

724 words - 3 pages company and Lance Armstrong lost money. Benefits of having a historical pitch person as an advertiser is that they won't ruin their reputation since they aren't alive anymore. Another benefit of having a pitch person is that they won't be able to cause any controversy with the social media and it won't cause any problems for the advertising product. Hernan Cortes’ advertising product is Planters Mixed Nuts because he explored a lot and mixed