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...