In the year 1519 Hernan Cortes sailed all the way from Cuba, landing in Mexico and making his way to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán. Hernan Cortes was one of the Spanish conquerors during the 16th century who subjugated the Aztec, Maya, Inca, and other Indian peoples.
Hernan (also Hernando or Fernando) Cortes was born in Medellin, Extramadura, in Spain in 1485 to a family of minor nobility. After studying for two years, he left school to fight in a military expedition in Italy but became ill and was forced to stay behind. He later left to seek his fortune in the West Indies, arriving in Hispañola instead and fighting in various battles against the Arawak Indians. Cortes later contributed to the conquest of Cuba with Diego Velazquez.
Cortes was chosen to make full contact with the Aztecs and gain riches for Spain, convert Indians for the Church, and fame for himself. Cortese accepted because he was waiting for a time to prove himself in an independent adventure. Cortese quickly gave all of his cash resources to the project and mortgaged all of his estates in Cuba. One-third of the funds needed were contributed by Velazquez. Cortese then bought six ships and commissioned one hundred and ten mariners and five hundred and fifty-three soldiers. A few Cuban women were brought along to cook meals for the expedition. Fourteen cannons were brought along, as well as sixteen horses. Velazquez tried to stop the mission. Velazquez was affraid that Cortes would become too powerful or betray him. Cortes then left for the coast of Yucatan against the orders of Velazquez.
Over the Atlantic Ocean,
Spain had successfully completed
the Reconquista. Finding
a solid Muslim wall to the
south in Northern Africa and the powerful French kingdom to the north, the only direction that the Spanish saw was to expand west. The Portuguese were given sovereignty over new lands discovered by them from the Pope. The Spanish wished to stop this favoritism ever since Columbus's discovery of the new land. The Portuguese still were allowed rights to lands "as far as the Indies," which gave Portugal the rights to the discovery of America.
After Columbus's first voyage, in 1493, Spain sent ships to the pope demanding that he give Spain rights to Columbus's discoveries. Just like popes from the past gave the Portuguese rights to Africa and all the lands to the east of it. Under control of the new pope, Alexander VI, he acknowledged these "injustices" and commanded a series of four bulls that established the pro-Spanish power. Two of them enabled the Spanish the rights of the land Columbus had discovered. There was a glitch though, they were entitled to the non-Christian western lands discovered as long as the native population were converted to Christianity. Another limitatiion was that this "western" area to all of the lands began one hundred leagues west of the Cape Verde and the Azores islands. The last, [fourth] bull, known as the Dudum Siguidem, nullified any previous papal orfers that favored the the Portuguese.
Now with the Spanish in control of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean assured, Spain continued to colonize the islands in the area of Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola. The natives to these lands were killed a lot by common diseases from the Europeans. The main outcome of this expansion was to Christianize the Indians and to gain trading power. They also believed they would get the wealth of the Americans, their gold and silver ore.