The Spanish explorer Hernando Cortés is a very controversial figure. To some people, he was heroic. Even though he was greatly outnumbered, he was able to defeat the Aztec Emperor Montezuma and conquer the Aztec empire because of his personal courage and leadership abilities. The Aztec empire was centered in modern-day Mexico. Its religion was based on human sacrifice. Cortés replaced it with Christianity. To others, including many Mexicans, he was a villain because he destroyed the Aztecs’ way of life. They believed he was a cruel man. He was also a symbol of Spanish domination. When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, its people tried to remove their memories of him. Either way, one thing is certain. Hernando Cortés was one of the most influential figures in the history of the New World.
In 1519, with a small band of a few hundred soldiers, Cortes invaded the mighty Aztec empire. Although the Aztecs greatly outnumbered them, Cortes's men were able to conquer the natives and capture their emperor. The arrival of Cortes in 1519 helped shape