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How Cortes Communicated With the Indigenous People

The communication between Hernán Cortés and the indigenous people during the conquest of Mexico was crucial to the success of his company. Cortés used interpreters, gestures, and gifts to establish a diplomatic relationship with the natives.

How Cortes Communicated With the Indigenous People

At that moment it was revealed that Marina mastered the language of her parents, as well as Mayan, the language of her masters in Potonchán. According to a chronicler, she acted as an interpreter, since Cortés communicated with Aguilar, Aguilar with the Indian woman, and the Indian woman with the Indians.

Who defeated Hernán Cortés?

La Noche Triste is an event of great importance in the history of the Spanish Conquest in Mexico, as it marks the most significant defeat of Hernán Cortés and his troops at the hands of the Mexica. After collecting gold and jewels, Cortés decided to retreat stealthily across a wooden bridge. However, in the early morning of June 30, 1520, the Mexica discovered his plan and launched an attack that resulted in the loss of a large number of men.

Why did La Malinche help Hernán Cortés?

La Malinche, also known as Malinalli, was a controversial figure during the Conquest of Mexico. Although she has been stigmatized and described as a traitor, her role as translator and advisor to Hernán Cortés was fundamental. As she was one of the few people who spoke Nahuatl and Mayan, she was able to communicate between the Spanish and the Mexica. However, it is important to highlight that La Malinche was not of Mexica origin, but rather she belonged to another group that was threatened by Tenochtitlan and its expansion. Her help was crucial in protecting her people and joining other indigenous groups against the Mexica. Her command of several indigenous languages ​​was valued by Cortés and she was an influential figure in New Spain.

What language was spoken in Montezuma’s empire?

One of the most ambitious series produced in Latin America focuses on the meeting between Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, the last Aztec emperor. This extraordinary series presented by History Channel allows us to observe what happened at the meeting of two worlds. The term “Aztec” refers to all the people who spoke the Nahuatl language in the Valley of Mexico and neighboring valleys. Montezuma Xocoyotzin was the last Aztec emperor, who ascended the throne in 1502. He expanded the empire through alliances and attacks on different peoples, which generated hatred and resentment. In addition, he ordered the construction of new temples with displays of wealth and elegance. Moctezuma awaited the return of Quetzalcoatl, a living deity, but he made a fatal mistake by confusing Hernán Cortés, a ruthless conquistador in search of gold.

What did Hernán Cortés call the conquered lands?

The practice of giving new names to American territories and geographical features was fundamental in the colonization process. The conquerors and colonists appropriated them and redefined them within a new political and social order. These names came from various sources, such as the European imagination, indigenous languages ​​and the description of the landscape. One of the most important names was that of New Spain, which arose during the expedition led by Hernán Cortés. Cortés compared the discovered region to the peninsular kingdoms, highlighting its importance and potential to increase the greatness of the Spanish monarchy. New Spain was consolidated as a kingdom that encompassed Mesoamerica and remained under the jurisdiction of the Court of Mexico. Later, it became a viceroyalty that included various territories in America and the Philippines.

What did Hernán Cortés ask of Moctezuma?

On August 16, 1519, Hernán Cortés left Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz for Tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec empire, in response to an invitation from Emperor Moctezuma. Cortés, 34 years old at the time, had arrived in the Indies in 1504 in search of glory and fortune. After exploring the Yucatán Peninsula, he arrived in Tenochtitlán on November 8, 1519. Over the following months, Cortés incorporated the natives into the crown of Spain through violence or persuasion. However, religious clashes and the greed of the Spanish led to hostilities and the capture of Montezuma. In April 1520, Cortés defeated a contingent sent by Governor Velázquez and many of the expedition members joined him. After a series of clashes and retreats, the conquest of Tenochtitlán culminated on August 13, 1521 with the capture of Cuauhtémoc and the surrender of the city. Cortés’s life after the conquest was a succession of military triumphs and political defeats, until his death in 1547.

How was Hernán Cortés received?

On November 8, 1519, Hernán Cortés and his troops arrived in Tenochtitlan, where they were received in a friendly manner by Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, the Mexica tlatoani (ruler). Moctezuma offered them refuge in the old houses of his father, Axayacatl, which were on the grounds of the current National Monte de Piedad in the Historic Center of Mexico City.

The Spanish established themselves in the Axayácatl Palace and used it as a barracks to begin the conquest of the Mexica territory. Additionally, the palace was used as a prison for several indigenous leaders, including Montezuma. After the fall of Tenochtitlan, the surviving Mexica were forced to destroy their temples and palaces and build European-style churches and houses with the resulting materials.

These changes in the structure of Tenochtitlan also affected the distribution of lands and concessions granted by the Spanish Crown. Hernán Cortés, who led the uprising against the Mexica, received privileges and land titles directly from King Carlos V. One of these concessions included the lands that ran from the Tacuba causeway to the Chapultepec region, including the area where the Axayacatl palace and his new house, which later became the National Palace.

Hernán Cortés built a new city in this area, with European architecture, which included a central plaza and houses for his closest men. These houses also served as the temporary headquarters of the first Cabildo of New Spain and the Marquisate of the Valley of Oaxaca, which Cortés received for his services to the crown.

After Cortés’ death in 1547, his descendants inherited several of his properties, but the National Palace was absorbed by the crown and became the headquarters of the viceroys of New Spain. With the arrival of the Republic, the palace continued to be the headquarters of the Executive Branch. Over the course of almost five hundred years, the building has undergone numerous extensions and modifications that reflect the different governments it has housed.

The concession that King Charles V granted to Hernán Cortés is protected within the General Archive of the Nation, in the Hospital de Jesús documentary collection, which contains the administrative archives of the Marquisate of Valle.

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Why did La Malinche know how to speak Spanish?

The discovery and colonization of America had the crucial participation of translators, who made communication between different cultures possible. One of the most prominent names in this area is La Malinche, a woman known for being the interpreter of Hernán Cortés in the conquest of Mexico. La Malinche has been both praised and criticized, some consider her the mother of Mexicans, while others see her as a traitor to her own people.

La Malinche, whose origins are not entirely clear, was born around 1500 in Coatzacoalcos, in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The daughter of a chieftain of the Aztec Empire, she was orphaned by her father when she was very young. Although her real name was Malinali, due to her noble birth she was given the treatment of Malintzin, which was later Spanishized as Malinche or Doña Marina. Thanks to her Aztec roots, Malintzin learned to speak Nahuatl.

After her mother remarried and had a son, Malintzin was sold into slavery to remove her from the family inheritance. She was sold to a chief of Tabasco, where she learned to speak the language of the Mayans.

In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived in Tabasco and received as a gift 20 young slaves, one of whom was Malintzin, who was baptized Marina. Cortés distributed the slaves among his men and Marina was handed over to Captain Alonso Hernández Portocarrero. However, when Cortés realized that Marina was fluent in both Nahuatl and Mayan, he required her as his interpreter. Although she did not yet speak Spanish, Marina carried out the translations from Aztec to Mayan, while Jerónimo de Aguilar did it from Mayan to Spanish.

After being baptized, Marina quickly learned Spanish and became Cortés’ assistant. Not only was she his translator, but she also brought him closer to unknown cultures and taught him their customs and military strategies. Marina also played an important role as a diplomat, facilitating meetings between Cortés and the region’s leaders. The most notable of these meetings was the one that took place on November 8, 1519 between Cortés and Montezuma.

The relationship between Marina and Cortés grew closer until they became lovers. In 1523, her son Martin was born, the only fruit of their relationship. However, their romance did not last long, since a year later Marina was repudiated by Cortés. Integrated into Spanish society in America, Marina married Juan Jaramillo, a trusted man of the conquistador, with whom she had a daughter named María.

The exact date of Marina’s death is unknown, but it is estimated that it occurred around 1529, when her husband was making arrangements to remarry. It is believed that Marina may have died due to a smallpox epidemic.

La Malinche has been a controversial historical figure. Although she was not directly responsible for the fall of the Aztec empire, her alignment with the Spanish made her a controversial figure. Some consider her the founding mother of Mexico and mother of one of the first important mestizos, Don Martín Cortés. However, her detractors see her as a collaborator of the conquistadors who contributed to the destruction of one of the most important cultures in Central America. In fact, the term “malinchismo” is used to describe the preference for everything foreign to the detriment of one’s own.


Hernán Cortés was received with distrust and resistance by the Aztecs. The language spoken in Montezuma’s empire was Nahuatl. La Malinche helped Cortés due to her knowledge of both languages ​​and his role as interpreter and advisor. La Malinche knew how to speak Spanish because she had been a slave and later she was handed over to the Spanish. Hernán Cortés called the conquered lands “New Spain.” Hernán Cortés asked Moctezuma to submit to the king of Spain and accept the Catholic religion. Hernán Cortés was defeated by Pedro de Alvarado in the Battle of Otumba.

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