Kaufmann, Daniel. 1998. Research on Corruption: Critical Empirical Issues. In Economics of Corruption. Ed. Arvind K

Download 90.96 Kb.
Size90.96 Kb.

Cortés, Hernán

Kaufmann, Daniel. 1998. Research on Corruption: Critical

Empirical Issues. In Economics of Corruption. Ed. Arvind K.

Jain. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Transparency International. 2005. Corruption Perceptions Index
2005. Transparency International. http://www.transparency.


Wade, Robert. 1985. The Market for Public Office: Why the

Indian State Is Not Better at Development. World Development 13 (4): 467-497.

World Bank. 2001. Governance and Corruption. World Bank
Group. http://www.worldbank.org/wbi/governance.

Arvind K. Jain



Hernán Cortés is best known as commander of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. His life reveals the human, political, and intellectual dimensions of Spain’s American empire and the use of history in shaping an understand-
ing of this collective enterprise.

As commonly occurs in the biographies of self-made

heroes, the few facts of Cortés’s youth have been sup-
planted by speculation to invent the lineage, training, and
experience that befit so-called singular men of the

Cortés was born in 1485 in Medellín, a small town

beside the Guadiana River in Extremadura. His parents
were poor hidalgos (members of the lower nobility), for
whom biographers would claim illustrious ancestors, cele-
brated for heroism and learning. At fourteen, Cortés was
sent to learn Latin with the husband of his father’s half-
sister in Salamanca. These preparatory studies have been
misconstrued and, since 1875, when Bartolomé de las
Casas’s History of the Indies (c. 1560) was published, oth-
ers have repeated his belief that Cortés held a bachelor’s
degree in law from the University of Salamanca. However,
Cortés returned home after two years, for which the deci-
sive event in his education was instead an apprenticeship
with an escribano (notary) in Valladolid, from whom he
learned the skills used in the Caribbean and later in his
own letters, reports, edicts, and briefs.

Cortés departed Spain in 1504, landing in

Hispaniola, the administrative center of Spain’s colony
and only permanent settlement until 1507. He received a
small encomienda (grant of land with the right to native
labor) from the governor Nicolás de Ovando and was
made notary of the newly founded town of Azua, in the south of the island, an area subdued with his aid. Because an abscess in his thigh (perhaps syphilis) left Cortés unable to join the ill-fated 1509 expedition of Alonso de Hojeda and Diego de Nicuesa to Darién and Veragua, he remained in Azua until 1511, when he enrolled in the conquest of Cuba, serving its leader, Diego Velázquez, as secretary more than as soldier.

Cortés’s years as notary had earned him allies and

taught him the workings of the colony at a key juncture
in its existence. In 1509, Christopher Columbus’s son,
Diego Colón, had replaced Ovando as governor, spurring
the settlement of neighboring islands. Justifiably wary of
Colón’s ambitions, the royal treasurer Miguel de
Pasamonte would recruit Cortés to report on the conquest
of Cuba, a service that Cortés capably performed without
alienating Velázquez. Despite such oversight, demands for
exploration grew over the next years due to the influx of
settlers and the precipitous decline of Hispaniola’s native
population. The conquests of Puerto Rico (1508), the
Bahamas and Jamaica (1509), and Cuba (1511) only tem-
porarily relieved this labor shortage, and did even less to
satisfy the ambitions of colonists from Europe.

This state of affairs was further complicated by the

protections ceded to the Amerindians under the Laws of
Burgos of 1512, the recall of Colón to Spain in 1514, and
the death in 1516 of Ferdinand II of Aragon, who had
ruled Castile and its overseas possessions as regent after
Isabel I died in 1504. Amid uncertainty and competing
claims to legitimate and effective authority, the governor
of Cuba, Diego Velázquez, sought to steal a march on
potential rivals by organizing an expedition to the
uncharted lands southwest of Cuba, about which there
had been reports as early as 1506, and especially since the
voyage of Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1511. To this end, a
small fleet embarked under Francisco Hernández de
Córdoba in 1517 and, when this group reported finding a
rich land (the Yucatán peninsula) with an advanced, urban
population (the Maya), another flotilla was sent under
Juan de Grijalva in 1518. Although this expedition met
armed resistance, this was seen as a sign of social and polit-
ical order, a conclusion reinforced by the artisanship of the
items obtained in trade and by stories of a great land
called México. Using this information, brought in
advance of Grijalva’s return by a ship bearing the most
seriously wounded, Velázquez demanded formal consent
to colonize from the Hieronymite friars representing the
Crown in Hispaniola, and from the Crown itself in Spain.
While awaiting an answer, Velázquez sought to advance
his claim to the title of adelantado (military and civil gov-
ernor of a frontier province) by launching a much larger
mission, ostensibly to search for Grijalva who had in fact
returned, and also “to investigate and learn the secret” of


Cortés, Hernán

any new lands discovered (Documentos cortesianos, vol. 1,

p. 55).

It is possible that Velázquez conspired to have this

expedition defy his orders not to settle these new lands, in
that Las Casas reported that he later reprimanded Grijalva
“because he had not broken his instruction” in this regard
(Las Casas 1965, vol. 3, p. 220). In any event, Velázquez
did not anticipate the disobedience to be shown by
Cortés, whom he made its captain. Velázquez’s motives in
naming Cortés remain unclear; for although Cortés had
served Velázquez and was able to commit resources, he
was an independent spirit; although liked and respected,
he was not known as a soldier. The difficulty of hiding
Grijalva’s return and the uncertainty of Cortés’s loyalties
together explain the haste of the latter’s departure, which
occurred on February 18, 1519, with six hundred soldiers
and sailors in total.

From the expedition’s start, there were tensions between

hidalgos with holdings in Cuba, loyal to Velázquez, and
others hoping to improve their lot by backing Cortés. The
voyage along the coast of the present-day states of
Yucatán, Campeche, and Tabasco confirmed these lands’
civilization and wealth, and provided an essential means
for their eventual conquest: a shipwrecked Spaniard held
captive by the Maya, Gerónimo de Aguilar, and a
Nahuatl-speaking native woman enslaved in Tabasco,
Malinche (Malintzin or Marina). Translating in tandem
and later independently, they enabled the Spaniards to
communicate and gather intelligence.

A key fact learned was that many of the peoples sub-

ject to the Mexica (Nahua or Aztecs) deeply resented the
tribute imposed upon them, and that others such as the
city-state of Tlaxcala were at war. Cortés would astutely
exploit these ethnic and regional divisions, which per-
sisted under Spanish rule, but first he needed to free him-
self and his troops of the commission received from
Velázquez so they might lay claim to the profit of their
endeavor. To this end, he arranged to found the settlement
of Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz and had its cabildo (town
council) review the legitimacy of Velázquez’s orders. The
report sent to Spain with an impressive cargo of booty on
July 10, 1519, was signed by this cabildo, yet bears
Cortés’s imprimatur in its style and content. Depicting
Velázquez as a self-serving tyrant, it states that the collec-
tive will of the Crown’s subjects residing in the land was
to assist their nation and faith by settling there, so they
might lead its people from abhorrent rites to Christian
religion. For this, the settlers would answer only to the
Crown and had implored Cortés to be their captain. It
would not suit Cortés to relate these actions, in which he
is said not to rebel but to acquiesce to the legitimate
demands of his fellow subjects; it is unlikely that Cortés
sent a letter of his own, as he and others have claimed.

Stripping and scuttling his ships so that no one could

turn back and sailors might become soldiers, Cortés
headed inland toward the Mexican capital of Tenochtitlán
with approximately 15 horsemen, 400 foot soldiers, and
more than 1,300 Totonac Indians. Claiming to be either
an ally or foe of the Mexica in accordance with the loyal-
ties of those encountered, Cortés made his way first to
Tlaxcala, and then to Cholula, negotiating an alliance
with the former after a series of skirmishes, and defeating
the latter in part with intelligence obtained through
Malinche, who warned that the Cholulans had prepared
an ambush, despite protestations of friendship. Here as
later, Cortés used exemplary punishment to make known
the cost of treason, executing several thousand Cholulans
as a warning to others. Though effective, this act was con-
demned in later years by political rivals and critics.

On November 8, 1519, the Spaniards were received

by Montezuma II in the city of Tenochtitlán. Although
impressed by the splendor of the city and Montezuma’s
control of such a vast and diverse empire, Cortés was con-
cerned by what might happen to his forces, amassed on an
island in a lake, should this control , as indeed came
to pass. For when he left to meet the challenge posed to
his authority by an armada sent by Velázquez, hostilities
broke out, so that by Cortés’s return on June 24, 1520, the
fighting was such that Montezuma himself, held prisoner
by the Spaniards, could not quell it. Accounts of these
events and of Montezuma’s death a few days later differ,
with blame assigned either to the greed of the Spaniards,
who allegedly ordered a celebration held in the main tem-
ple to slaughter the Mexican warriors, or to the treachery
of the Mexica, who allegedly used this event to arm an
attack. In any event, the Spaniards were obliged to flee
Tenochtitlán during the night of June 30 (la noche triste),
losing more than half their forces and nearly all the plun-
der. These losses fell heaviest on the troops newly
recruited, with promises and threats, from among the
men sent to arrest Cortés by Velázquez.

Escaping with further casualties to Tlaxcala—which

would be accorded special privileges for its partly self-
interested loyalty: tax exemptions, the right of its citizens
to ride horses and use the honorific title Don—Cortés
understood that retreat to the coast and on to Cuba or
Hispaniola was impossible given the doubtful legality of
his status as Captain General of the Spanish forces, which,
although Cortés did not know it, Charles V had pointedly
left unaddressed after receiving the cabildo’s letter and del-
egates. Cortés therefore began plans to retake Tenoch-
titlán, rallied his allies and troops (which, after the rout
suffered on la noche triste, included the most resolute and


Cortés, Hernán

battle-hardened of those previously in his command), and wrote to the king on October 30, 1520, assuring success while blaming defeat on Velázquez’s meddling, which, he said, had diverted his energies at a crucial moment, under-

mining his command over the Spaniards and his stature in the eyes of the Mexica.

This letter is key to an understanding of the conquest

as a whole. Although it was designed to bolster Cortés’s
claim to leadership—for example, by recasting fortuitous
events as evidence of his foresight and God’s favor, or by
narrating successful actions in the first-person singular—
it also brings to light differences between the mainly polit-
ical tactics of the first march to Tenochtitlán and the
violent means ultimately used in its military conquest.
The picture put forth in this letter of an enemy seemingly
bewildered by technology (ships, firearms, and iron
weapons), horses, psychological warfare, and Cortés’s abil-
ity to anticipate Montezuma’s every move and moreover
use rhetoric and his own irrational beliefs against him—
notably the idea that the Spaniards had been sent by the
god Quetzalcoatl, an idea that would in fact become cur-
rent only after conquest as justification for defeat—has led
to the assumption of cultural superiority. Furthermore, it
has prompted neglect of the difficulties encountered by
the Spaniards after their initial entry into Tenochtitlán
and especially after la noche triste. The introduction of dis-
eases such as smallpox to which the Amerindians lacked
immunity certainly affected the two sides equally.

The advantages cited by Cortés in his report to the

king might have been decisive had the conquest been
rapid; but, as it endured, the Mexica were able to devise
countermeasures. Even as Cortés ordered thirteen brigan-
tines built to ferry troops and attack Tenochtitlán from
the water, where its defenses were most vulnerable, the
Mexica were digging trenches armed with sharply pointed
sticks and captured lances to kill or hobble the Spaniards’
horses. So too would the Mexica make a display of sacri-
ficing and cannibalizing the Spaniards taken in battle to
terrorize their comrades as the latter had before used
firearms, horses, and dogs to terrorize them. The resulting
pursuit of captives for sacrifice would prove costly for the
Mexica insofar as it allowed Cortés and others in his com-
pany to escape death on several occasions. For this and the
far larger number of Mexican combatants—despite the
welcome arrival of reinforcements while in Tlaxcala,
Cortés reports that in the final assault on Tenochtitlán his
forces comprised barely 700 infantry, 118 musketeers and
crossbowmen, 86 horsemen, 3 canon, 15 field guns, and
an unspecified number of native fighters and bearers,
apparently fewer than had supported him on his previous
entry—Cortés was obliged to abandon his intent to take
the city without destruction.
Despite more than two months of siege, beginning
on May 30, 1521, the Mexica, though visibly starving,
refused to surrender, prompting the Spaniards to raze the
city sector by sector to maximize the effect of canon and
to deprive the Mexica of cover for attack. Dismayed by the
devastation of these final days and their aftermath, during
which little was or could be done to restrain the Tlaxcalan
forces, Cortés would remark in his third letter to the
Crown (May 15, 1522): “So loud was the wailing of the
women and children that there was not one man amongst
us whose heart did not bleed at the sound; and indeed we
had more trouble in preventing our allies from killing
with such cruelty than we had in fighting the enemy. For
no race, however savage, has ever practiced such fierce and
unnatural cruelty as the natives of these parts” (Cortés
1986, pp. 261-262). On August 13, 1521, Tenochtitlán
and its new leader, Cuauhtémoc, surrendered.

Although Cortés reorganized and governed the conquered

territory, renamed New Spain, until 1528, and led
another, this time disastrous, expedition to Honduras
(1524-1526), his final years, until his death in 1547, were
spent in relative obscurity. His actions in exploring the
Pacific coast northward in search of the legendary riches
of Cíbola (1532-1536) and in support of Charles V in the
unsuccessful assault on Algiers (1541) show a man broken
in spirit. It is telling that writers of the sixteenth and sev-
enteenth centuries celebrate Cortés’s role, not as military
commander, but as an instrument of God, delivering the
New World from idolatry and extending the rule of
Catholic faith in opposition to Martin Luther, who they
wrongly said was born in the same year. Although this
image has faded from modern accounts, replaced by that
of Machiavelli’s ruthless prince, the audacity of Cortés’s
exploits has not. For this and the power of his discourse,
Cortés’s letters to the Crown are required reading for
scholars of Renaissance society.


Cortés, Hernán. [1519-1526] 1986. Letters from Mexico. Trans.
and ed. Anthony Pagden. Introd. John H. Elliott. New

Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


Boruchoff, David A. 1991. Beyond Utopia and Paradise: Cortés,

Bernal Díaz and the Rhetoric of Consecration. MLN 106:


Casas, Bartolomé de las. [c. 1560] 1965. Historia de las Indias.
Ed. Agustín Millares Carlo. 2nd ed. 3 vol. Mexico City:

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Clendinnen, Inga. 1991. “Fierce and Unnatural Cruelty”: Cortés
and the Conquest of Mexico. Representations 33: 65-100.



Díaz del Castillo, Bernal. [1575] 1908-1916. The True History

of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, One

of Its Conquerors. Trans. Alfred Percival Maudslay. 5 vols. London: The Hakluyt Society.

Documentos cortesianos. 1990-1992. Ed. José Luis Martínez. 4
vols. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de

México and Fondo de Cultura Económica.

López de Gómara, Francisco. [1552] 1964. Cortés: The Life of
the Conqueror by His Secretary, Francisco López de Gómara.

Trans. Lesley Byrd Simpson. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Martínez, José Luis. 1990. Hernán Cortés. Mexico City:
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Fondo de

Cultura Económica.

Ramos, Demetrio. 1992. Hernán Cortés: Mentalidad y propósitos.
Madrid: Ediciones Rialp.

David A. Boruchoff


Cosmopolitanism is a term derived from the Greek word

kosmopolite (“citizen of the world”). It emerged as a philo-
sophical and ultimately cultural worldview during the
Hellenistic period, when thinkers traced the conceptual
evolution of the people’s mentalité from that of the citizen
of the city-state to that of the citizen of the entire ecumene
(or extended Hellenic world). After a long eclipse, the
concept reemerged in the writings of Kant, where the
future evolution of the world into a cosmopolitan society
was originally contemplated. Adam Smith should also
receive credit, however, for his endorsement of free trade
as a cosmopolitan stance. In the nineteenth century, the
word gained a negative connotation through its juxtaposi-
tion with the popular idea of nationalism, a trend that
reached its peak in the word’s employment as a derogatory
term by the Nazis.

Although cosmopolitanism reemerged as a potentially

powerful concept in the late 1990s, it is important to note
that the concept continues to lack a universally shared def-
inition. It has been applied to philosophical and normative
orientations as well as to political and cultural attributes,
and its employment in the discourse of different disciplines
is far from uniform. Moreover, cosmopolitanism has been
related both to efforts to construct forms of transnational
solidarity, and to the various urban cultures of past and
present metropolitan centers. Perhaps the most important
contributions to the literature on cosmopolitanism can be
found in the writings of Ulrich Beck, and in work inquir-
ing into the possibility of cosmopolitanism providing the
foundation for a future European identity.

Generally speaking, contributors to the growing liter-

ature on cosmopolitanism interpret the term in a threefold
manner. Some authors advocate “thin” cosmopolitanism,
whereby cosmopolitanism is conceived as a form of
detachment from local ties, whereas others argue in favor
of “rooted” or context-specific or vernacular cosmopoli-
tanism, whereby cosmopolitanism is conceived as congru-
ent with locality. Finally, some suggest the existence of
“glocalized” cosmopolitanism, whereby global detachment
and local attachment coexist in a symbiotic relationship.
Thus, depending upon the particular definition employed,
specific groups of people can be conceived either as carri-
ers of cosmopolitanism or as excluded from it altogether.
For example, immigrant groups have been viewed as carri-
ers of vernacular cosmopolitanism, but they are almost by
definition excluded from some versions of “thin” cos-

In contrast to the growing body of theoretical work on cosmopolitanism, there is to date only a limited amount of empirical research in the literature. Ultimately, only empirical research will be in a position to determine which one of the different theoretical strands of cos-

mopolitanism might be the most promising one for soci-
ology. Such work might also help to evaluate whether the world is indeed experiencing a trend toward cosmopoli-
tanism, and might identify which attributes are observable among the public and the extent to which these are related to other trends—such as the growth of transnational con-
nections or a revived sense of religiosity.

SEE ALSO Cooperation; Globalization, Anthropological

Aspects of; Globalization, Social and Economic Aspects

of; Internationalism; Trade; Trust


Beck, Ulrich. 2005. Cosmopolitan Vision. Oxford, U.K.: Polity.

Cheah, Pheng, and Bruce Robbins, eds.1998. Cosmopolitics:

Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Robertson, Roland, and David Inglis. 2004. The Global Animus:
In the Tracks of World Consciousness. Globalizations (1) 1:


Roudometof, Victor. 2005. Transnationalism, Cosmopolitanism,
and Glocalization. Current Sociology 53 (1): 113-135.

Rumford, Chris, ed. 2007. Cosmopolitanism and Europe.

Liverpool, U.K.: Liverpool University Press.
Szerszynski, Bronislaw, and John Urry. 2002. Cultures of

Cosmopolitanism. Sociological Review 50 (4): 461-481.

Theory, Culture, and Society 19 (1-2). 2002. (Special issue on


Vertovec, Steven, and Robin Cohen, eds. 2002. Conceiving
Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, and Practice. Oxford, U.K.:

Oxford University Press.

Victor Roudometof



The document refers to Hernan Cortes’ life, mostly focusing on the part where he explores. To begin, Hernan Cortes was born in Medellin, Castile and the document talks a little about his early life. Then, the document talks about Cortes setting out on his expedition, and he lands in Hispaniola. It also talks about how he when there was a great fight when Cortes returned, so big that even Montezuma couldn’t control it. It all resulted in Montezuma’s death, and in Cortes’ letter they mentioned how the natives were fascinated by the technology that they had. Also, it was mentioned that both sides were affected severely by diseases. Overall, Cortes reorganized and conquered the land which was known as New Spain and being seen as God’s instrument to spread Catholicism to the natives.

Directory: wp-content -> uploads -> sites
sites -> Penn State Harrisburg American Studies/Women Studies 104: Women and the American Experience Spring 2015 Instructor: Kathryn Holmes
sites -> Penn State Harrisburg am st/wmnst 104: Women and the American Experience Spring 2015 Instructor: Kathryn Holmes
sites -> Adolf hitler
sites -> Period 3 (1754-1800): Multiple Choice Exam
sites -> Robert hugh kargon
sites -> Technology & society in american history
sites -> Guide to understanding relationships
sites -> Fall 2015 Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Courses wgss 1104 Feminisms and the Arts Instructor: Terri Smith Mondays 2: 35 to 5: 15 pm
sites -> Lesson Name a political or Social Hero? – A structured Academic Controversy (sac) with Joshua L. Chamberlain Authors
sites -> Period 4: Stimulus-Based Multiple-Choice Questions 1-5 refer to the following quotation

Download 90.96 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©ua.originaldll.com 2023
send message

    Main page