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Hernán Cortés <<ehr NAHN kawr TEHZ>> (1485-1547) was a Spanish explorer.
Cortés was born in Medellin, Spain. In 1511, he joined the Spanish forces that conquered what is now
Cuba. In 1519, he led a group of explorers and soldiers looking for a rich American Indian empire in what
is now Mexico. His troops landed on the Mexican coast and marched inland to the capital of the Aztec
The Aztec ruler, Montezuma, greeted Cortés with gifts. But Cortés soon imprisoned Montezuma. In
1520, the Aztec rebelled against Spanish attempts to rule them. But the Spanish defeated the Aztec in
1521 and ended the Aztec empire.
Cortés later encouraged further exploration of Mexico. He controlled rich lands there and set up farming
and mining operations. In 1540, he returned to Spain.
In 1519 an explorer by the name of Hernan Cortes left his home in Cuba in order to explore Mexico.
Cortez was convinced that he could obtain more riches on the mainland, than was possible by remaining
on the islands in the Caribbean.
Cortes and over 500 men arrived in Mexico, and began traveling towards the Aztec capital of
Tenochtitlan. The Aztec Empire was wealthy, and in many ways more advanced than any European
nation. However, they did not have horses, nor did they have guns. This gave the Spaniards a huge
In addition, many of the peoples who had been conquered by the Aztecs were unhappy about the way
they had been treated by them. The Aztecs were brutal, and often sacrificed the people they conquered
to their gods. As a result, many of these people were ready to join forces with Cortes and his men to
overthrow the Aztec Empire.
At first the Aztecs did not fight back. They thought that the Europeans were the fulfillment of an ancient
legend that spoke of white bearded gods.
After seeing the wealth of their empire, Cortes set out to take control of it. Within just a few years, he
and his small army were able to defeat one of the most advanced civilizations of the era, setting Cortez
as the ruler of Mexico, in behalf of Spain
Francisco Pizarro <<frahn SIHS koh pee ZAHR oh>> (1478?-1541) was a Spanish explorer. He conquered
the Inca Indians in what is now Peru. His actions opened the way for Spain to colonize most of South
Pizarro was born in Trujillo, Spain. In the early 1500’s, he spent some time in the Spanish West Indies. He
also explored the Caribbean coast of Central and South America. Pizarro then settled in the Spanish
colony of Panama City. Reports of a wealthy empire to the south caused Pizarro to start exploring the
Pacific coast of South America in 1524. Pizarro finally discovered the Inca empire in 1527 or 1528. He
saw enough riches there to make him believe that the Inca were wealthy.
Pizarro returned to Peru with a military force in 1532. His men killed thousands of Inca. In 1533,
Pizarro’s forces took over Cusco, the Inca capital. Pizarro founded Lima in 1535. He made it the capital of
Peru. A disagreement between Pizarro and the Spanish conqueror Diego de Almagro led to Pizarro’s
death on June 26, 1541.
Francisco Pizarro was a Spanish explorer and adventurer. He conquered the Inca, who had established
an advanced civilization in South America. Pizarro also founded the city of Lima, now the capital of the
South American country Peru.
Francisco Pizarro was born in Trujillo, Spain, in about 1475. His father was an army captain. As a young
man Pizarro explored Central America.
Pizarro heard stories of a large and wealthy empire in South America. In 1523 he made a plan to take
the Inca lands for Spain. Few people believed he could succeed. Early expeditions failed, but in 1531 he
reached the lands of the Inca in what is now Peru.
On November 15, 1531, Pizarro and his men entered the Inca city of Cajamarca. The Spaniards had
better weapons and easily defeated the Incas. Pizarro and his men took gold and silver from the Inca
and killed their emperor. Pizarro went on to take control of all of Peru.
In 1535 Pizarro founded the city of Lima. The city was the center of Pizarro's new government. But there
was trouble between Pizarro and another Spaniard named Diego de Almagro. Almagro's followers killed
Pizarro on June 26, 1541.