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Hernando Cortez. Portrait of the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez (1485-1547), the conqueror of the Aztec empire in Mexico. After fighting in the conquest of Cuba, Cortez was given command of an expedition to Mexico. He then marched inland into Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire ruled by Montezuma II. After an initially friendly welcome, Cortez was driven out of the city. He gathered more men and, in 1521, razed Tenochtitlan to the ground, building Mexico City on its ruins. For this and the riches he sent back to Spain, Cortez was appointed governor of New Spain, but, fearing his ambition, this title was taken away from him in 1528.
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