Prince of Mexico – Chapter Two
By: Mark Kodama

II.

Genius — which smiles upon the few – can come from anywhere.
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizzaro Altamirano, was born
In the small town of Medellin, Spain in 1485. His father was
Captain Martin Cortes, hidalgo, and veteran of the Italian wars.
His mother was the lady Catalina Pizarro Altamarina.

Hernan studied law at Salamanca. But Spain was the land of chivalry
and knights–errants. Two years later, Hernan returned home, dreaming
Of foreign lands to discover and conquer. One night, young Hernan
Injured his head when he fell climbing a wall on his way to a midnight
Liaison with an older woman. He missed his passage to the New World,
Recovering from head injuries. The fleet commanded by his uncle,
Nicholas Ovando, sailed without him.

In 1504, young Cortes sailed to the New World. In Hispanola,
Cortes met his uncle Ovando, now the governor of the island.
Uncle Ovando made Cortes a notary and gave him an [encomiendo]\,
A land grant and Indian slaves. A disappointed Cortes told his uncle:
"I came for gold, not to till the land like some peasant."

Cortes joined the military expedition of Don Diego Velasquez
To conquer Cuba. After Velasquez was appointed governor of Cuba
He made Cortes one of his secretaries. Cortes sought the hand of the
Beautiful Catalina Xuarez, but changed his mind. When Velasquez
Tried to force Cortes to marry Catalina, he refused. Cortes became leader
of the opposition faction to Velaquez. Cortes tried to take a boat
To Hispaniola to report Velasquez to the authorities but Velasquez
Caught and jailed him. Cortes broke his shackles, by striking them
Against the walls of his prison cell. He escaped through a window,
Descended down the two–story prison wall, and claimed sanctuary in
A nearby church. Sheriff Juan Escudero tackled and captured Cortes
When he wandered off the church grounds.

Velasquez imprisoned Cortes aboard a ship bound for Hispaniola to stand
Trial for treason. But Cortes broke his fetters and escaped in an open boat.
He rowed toward the beach until the current took him out to sea. He dove
Into the dark shark infested waters and made for land. Velasquez was
Leading a military action against a local Indian insurrection when Cortes
Reported for duty to a startled Velasquez. The governor reconciled with
Cortes after Cortes agreed to marry Catalina Xuarez. That night when
Velasquez's jailers came to Velasquez's home to report Cortes's escape,
They found the Governor and Cortes in bed together. Velasquez gave
Cortes a new land grant and appointed him mayor of a small town. Cortes married
Catalina and became one of the wealthiest hidalgos in Cuba. This was
The way things were — until Pedro de Alvarado returned with news
That Grijalva found gold.

The governor organized an expedition, making Cortes its captain–general
Upon the advice of Cortes's friends Amador de Lara, Treasurer, and Andres
De Duero, Secretary. Velasquez issued orders to Cortes to find the six
Christians living with the Indians. Velasquez instructed Cortes to be kind
And humane to the Indians so they would trade, become Christians, give
Them gold and silver and become subjects of Spain. Cortes spent and
Borrowed money, mortgaged his property to finance the expedition.
Three hundred men joined the venture, paying for their own weapons.
Cortes equipped men who could not provide their own weapons.

One day, the court jester told Velasquez : "Master be careful. Someday
We may have to hunt for this captain of ours." Cortes replied: "Heed
Him not. He is a saucy fellow who needs a good whipping."

Lara and Duero told Cortes that Velasquez had second thoughts about
Naming Cortes commander so he should put to sea as soon as possible.
Though unprepared, Cortes set sail that night. Velaquez approached
Cortes by boat. "You leave like this?"Velaquez shouted. "Surely, a
Courteous way of departing."

"Please forgive me," Cortes replied. "But time waits for no man. Have
You more orders?"

"None," Velasquez replied.

Cortes landed in Macaca, Trinidad and Havana to gather supplies and
Recruit more men. Cortes assembled one hundred ten sailors, five hundred
Fifty–three soldiers, and two hundred Indians. He had thirty–two crossbow
Men and thirteen arquebusiers. He brought ten cannons and sixteen horses.
Velasquez ordered local garrison commander to arrest Cortes, but commanders
Ignored his order. Cortes mustered his men and gave a short speech:

"Friends, we embark on a great enterprise, one that will make us famous
Forever. We will travel to countries undiscovered, bigger and richer
Yet known to civilized man. We have a glorious prize before us, but
One that must be won by the most arduous effort. Great prizes are won
Bby hard work and are unavailable to the lazy. If I worked hard and staked
All I own it is for fame and honor, the highest reward for a man. But if
Yyou seek riches, then be true to me and I will be true to you and I will
Make you masters of wealth beyond the wildest dreams of your neighbors.
We are small in number but bold in spirit and, if our spirit does not falter,
Know that God has never forsaken the Spaniard in His contests with the
Infidels. He will protect us though we are surrounded by clouds of enemies
For ours is a just cause. And we will fight under the banner of the cross.
Let's go forward with the confident spirit we need to complete the work
We have begun."

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