Hernando Cortes

Hernando Cortes

(1485-1547) Among the millions that from age to age are born into this world there arise in every generation one or two pre-eminent men and women who are objects of the wonder and the envy, the admiration and the hatred of their contemporaries, and whose names, after their deaths, stand out as landmarks by which we shape a course across the dark and doubtful seas of history. Cæsar and Cromwell, Mahomet and Napoleon, to mention no others, were such men, and such a man was Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico. They have been called, and well called, Men of Destiny, since it is impossible in studying their lives and tracing their vast influence upon human affairs, to avoid the conclusion that they were raised up and endowed with great talents and opportunities in order that by their agency the ends of Providence might be shaped. Hernando Cortes was born of a good family, at the town of Medellin in Spain, in 1485, and educated at the college of Salamanca. At the age of nineteen having proved himself unfit to follow the profession of the law to which his parents had destined him, he emigrated to the Indian Island of Hispaniola where he was appointed notary of the town of Acua, and in 1511 assisted in the conquest of Cuba under the command of Velasquez. Here after many curious adventures and vacillations he married a lady named Catalina Xuarez, and being created alcade of the settlement of St. Jago realized a moderate fortune by the practice of agriculture and mining. In 1518 there came to Cuba news of the...
Columbus Announces His Discovery

Columbus Announces His Discovery

The Letter of Columbus to Luis De Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery (1493) As I know you will be rejoiced at the glorious success that our Lord has given me in my voyage, I write this to tell you how in thirty-three days I sailed to the Indies with the fleet that the illustrious King and Queen, our Sovereigns, gave me, where I discovered a great many islands, inhabited by numberless people; and of all I have taken possession for their Highnesses by proclamation and display of the Royal Standard without opposition. To the first island I discovered I gave the name of San Salvador, in commemoration of His Divine Majesty, who has wonderfully granted all this. The Indians call it Guanaham. The second I named the Island of Santa Maria de Concepcion; the third, Fernandina; the fourth, Isabella; the fifth, Juana; and thus to each one I gave a new name. When I came to Juana, I followed the coast of that isle toward the west, and found it so extensive that I thought it might be the mainland, the province of Cathay; and as I found no towns nor villages on the sea-coast, except a few small settlements, where it was impossible to speak to the people, because they fled at once, I continued the said route, thinking I could not fail to see some great cities or towns; and finding at the end of many leagues that nothing new appeared, and that the coast led northward, contrary to my wish, because the winter had already set in, I decided to make for the south, and as...