The Five Routes of Hernán Cortés
Fomento Cultural Grupo Salinas (FCGS) recently presented the book “Las cinco rutas de Hernán Cortés” by Juan Miralles, one of the top historians in Mexico.
Our culture is the sum of what we have been. And a key part of respecting ourselves includes respecting our identity. The phenomenon of Mexican culture cannot be explained without the clash of cultures that was created with the Spanish conquest.
Miralles’ book traces the voyage of Captain Hernán Cortés, from his departure from Cuba to his arrival at Cozumel, where he arrived with four ships on May 3, 1518, the day of the Holy Cross, or Santa Cruz.
Cozumel was originally called Santa Cruz de Porta Latina in recognition of being Cortes’ point of entry to Mexico in his quest to reach Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica Empire.
Captain Cortés made the first reference to Mexico by its current name in a letter sent to Emperor Carlos I of Spain informing him about the advances of the exploration campaign. However, the Spaniards still referred to the country as Temixtitan or Tenusitan.
In addition to vast historical data, the book includes archival maps from FCGS collections that trace the routes travelled by the Spanish troops, providing an interesting backdrop to understanding Cortés’ military strategy.
Cortés defeated an army of 150,000 warriors, built and disassembled 13 ships in Tlaxcala, and later transported them over 100 kilometers. A team of 18,000 indigenous laborers reassembled the ships, which were a key part of the siege of the capital of the Mexica state.
Miralles’ book emphasizes the role of Cortés as a political figure, with anecdotes, reflections and details that give a fuller picture of Cortés, who was an important and often misunderstood player in the development of Mexican culture.
The understanding of the past is a challenge to be contemplated. The book is an invitation to reflect on our history and origins, and understand the way two worlds met, changing the destiny of both cultures forever.