Cortez, or Cortes (kor'-tez), Hernando. A Spanish adventurer. Born in Medellin in Estremadura in 1485. He was first destined for the law, but a passion for arms carried him to the military profession. He went early in the 16th century with Velasquez to Cuba, and subsequently obtained the command of the expedition sent against Mexico. With seven hundred men under his command, he landed at Tobasco in 1519, and immediately burned his ships, that his followers might have no hope but in victory. He advanced to Mexico, where he was at first received with friendly demonstrations; but on his seizing Montezuma, the Mexican king, as a hostage, a struggle ensued, in which many thousands of lives were lost. He eventually succeeded in putting down all opposition and in overrunning Mexico. He was rewarded with the title of marquis and a grant of land; but subsequently, on his return to Spain, he found himself very much neglected. He died near Seville in 1547.