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Hernan Cortes de Monroy y Pizarro (1485-1547), Spanish explorer and conquistador. Cortes was born at Medellin into minor nobility, and after studying at Salamanca chose to look for his fortune in Hispaniola and later Cuba. In 1519, against the orders of the Governor, he led an expedition to the mainland. There he overwhelmed the Aztec Empire, subjugating the populace and claiming most of Mexico for the King of Castille. In later years he returned to Spain twice, on the second occasion contracting a fatal case of dysentery.
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