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Pirates of the Caribbean Wiki

"With the Sword I will have godlike power, and with the stone eye, I will control the spirits, for they are contained in its confines. I will rule not only the Caribbean, but the Seven Seas!"
―Hernán Cortés[src]

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st. Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, often referred to as Hernando or Hernán Cortés, was a corrosive conquistador who operated in the early 16th century. He led an expedition to mainland Mexico. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

With the use of a magical sword, Cortés led his armies and overthrew the Aztec Empire. At some point during his conquest, the Aztecs delivered Cortés a stone chest filled with 882 pieces of Aztec Gold, in an attempt to stem the slaughter; however Cortés' greed was too great. This prompted the Heathen Gods to place a curse upon the gold. Almost two centuries after his death, the spirit of Cortés had clashed with the young adventurer Jack Sparrow.


Early life[]

Cortés was born in 1485 in the kingdom of Castile in the city of Medellín. His was an upper class family, though his parents weren't particularly wealthy. At the age of 14, his parents sent him to the University of Salamanca to eventually study law. After two years, he returned home, but wasn't satisfied there. As stories began to come in about the mysterious "New World", Hernán Cortés wanted to be a part of it.

The New World[]

Hispaniola and Cuba[]

In 1504, Cortés boarded a ship commanded by Alonso Quintero, departing for the west. In Hispaniola, Cortés went to the house of the Governor, whom he knew from Spain. The Governor convinced him to take a piece of land for a time. He didn't entirely settle down, though. He was involved in the military, suppressing native uprisings.

Over the next few years, Hernán Cortés took part in conquests of Cuba and Hispaniola, and received more land and native slaves as a result. He became an important man in the colony of Cuba, eventually becoming mayor of Santiago. Eventually, he married the sister-in-law of Governor Velázquez, Catalina Xuárez. Dissatisfied with his life, he remained ambitious for more wealth, slaves, and adventure.

Conquest of Mexico[]

"This type of power is dangerous. And what is worse is... Cortés. He scourged the Yucatán before moving inland to defeat the Aztecs. This sword had a part in that slaughter."
Tumen to Jack Sparrow[src]

At some point before sailing for Mexico, Cortés obtained a magical sword, said to have the power to rule entire kingdoms. Armed with that sword, in 1519, Cortés led the Spanish Army to conquer new lands in the west.

Landing in the Yucatán, Cortes claimed the land for Spain, and began his conquest. Before continuing the journey, he scourged the native population of the peninsula.[4] He wiped out the Xitami tribe, but not before they gave their most precious possession, the Sun-and-stars amulet, to the Mayans, for safekeeping.[5]

Taking his men to Veracruz, Cortés officially ignored the authority of the Governor and claimed to be acting under the direct authority of Emperor Charles V. In reality, he was taking charge of the situation absolutely, and ready to claim the gold and power he had been looking for. The same year, Emperor Charles appointed Cortés as governor of New Spain.

Fall of the Aztec Empire[]

"This is the cursed sword that gave Cortés the power to conquer the Aztec empire! Legend has it that the sword made him unstoppable in battle....And it gave him strange powers, like convincing the Aztecs that he was a god."
Arabella Smith[src]

During his conquest, Cortés was unstoppable in battle, thanks to the power of his sword. That weapon also convinced the Aztecs that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl returned to them in human form.[6] The Aztec Emperor, Montecuhzoma, served as Cortés' subordinate. But soon, Cortés began to dominate the Aztec empire and massacre its people. For his betrayal, Montecuhzoma was stoned to death by his own men.[7]

Cursed treasure[]

"This is Aztec gold. One of 882 identical pieces they delivered in a stone chest to Cortés himself. Blood money paid to stem the slaughter he wreaked upon them with his armies. But the greed of Cortés was insatiable. So the heathen gods placed upon the gold...a terrible curse."
Hector Barbossa to Elizabeth Swann[src]

With his armies, Cortés wreaked death and destruction upon the Aztecs. At some point, Mexico's Aztec rulers used a stone chest containing 882 identical pieces of Aztec gold to bribe Cortés.[3] The gold was blood money paid to stem the slaughter he wreaked upon the indigenous tribes of the New World with his armies. Instead of satisfying Cortés, the gold merely fueled his greed, which became so great that he dishonored the payment and continued his bloodshed to gain even more riches.[8]

Aztec Gold Chest COTBP

The stone chest delivered to Cortés.

Over the years, a legend grew that these actions so angered the heathen gods that they placed a curse upon the gold.[8] The curse condemned any who took so much a single coin from the chest to live forever as the undead, unable to feel the pleasures of the flesh-and-blood world. Their true appearance would only be revealed by the moonlight, eerily transforming them into living, ragged, rotting skeletons. Through unknown circumstances, the cursed treasure of Cortés would end up being buried on Isla de Muerta, and on it the curse remained. Only by returning all gold in total, and a blood debt repaid, could the curse be broken.[9]

Downfall and death[]

"Legend says the sword holds limited power if the one who possesses it doesn't also have its sheath."
Arabella Smith[src]

In unknown circumstances, Cortés lost the scabbard of his sword, which led to his downfall.[6] In 1526 he was suspended in his role as Governor of Mexico. He returned to Spain in 1528. In the early 1540s, Cortés won the right to join the emperor in his fight against Algiers. The war was not a good one for Spain, and Cortés himself was nearly drowned. He returned to Spain, neglected and in debt, and finally decided to return to Mexico. He never made it. On December 2, 1547 he died of pleurisy. However, his spirit remained in his sword.


Return from the Grave[]


The spirit of Cortés and Jack Sparrow.

"Jack, don't ye realize what's happened? The pirates' stories lacked a wee detail! The incantation brought back the Sword's owner! This is the spirit of Hernán Cortés, risen from the dead!"
Arabella Smith to Jack Sparrow[src]

Almost two centuries after Cortés' death, his cursed sword became the object of a quest undertaken by Jack Sparrow and the crew of the Barnacle. By the end of the quest, the Sword and its scabbard were reunited on Isla Fortuna. After Jack read the Latin incantation found in the coffin of Francois, the Barnacle's crew expected to see the Sword glowing with power. Instead, the phantom of Cortés himself materialized before them. Despite being in the presence of this undead spirit risen from the dead, Jack welcomed the corrosive conquistador in a friendly way.[1]

Teaching Jack Sparrow[]

"I am here, boy, to teach you how to use this weapon."
"So, when do my lessons begin?"
―Cortés and Jack Sparrow[src]

At first, the spirit of Cortés was more than willing to teach Jack Sparrow how to use the Sword. The putrid conquistador showed him how to create rivers out of nowhere, and how to levitate the Sword to his hands from the distance. Because of Cortés, the far end of Puerto San Judas' dock was destroyed by Jack during his experiments with the Sword. However, when Jack ordered the sword to make treasure fall from the sky, or to make a fleet for him to command, he wasn't able to do that. Slightly dissapointed with that, Jack provoked Cortés to do something great with the Sword, and the conquistador caused the snow to start falling on the island.[10] Nevertheless, Jack was fascinated with the power of the legendary weapon.

Pursuing his own agenda[]

"I can make you a master of the Sword."
"So, what are you waiting for?"
"But on a condition..."
"Of course it's on a condition. What in the bloody Caribbean is not done on some condition or other? And what is said condition, señor?"
"Retrieve for me the eye of the man who last wielded this sword. I want the stone eye that belonged to the pirate Stone-Eyed Sam.
―Cortés and Jack Sparrow[src]

However, Cortés allowed Jack to use the Sword's power to achieve his own ends, thus in a way, depriving Jack of his freedom. The presence of Cortés and his sword made Jack's young crewman Tumen very ill, and the crew of the Barnacle retreated to the inn. But Jack Sparrow refused to go with them, wanting to become the absolute master of the Sword's power. Cortés promised to teach Jack how to master the Sword's full power, but only if he brings him the stone eye of Stone-Eyed Sam.[11]

To ensure Jack succeeds in his mission, Cortés transformed the Barnacle into a grand warship called the Grand Barnacle. With the power of the Sword, Jack easily sailed the ship across the Caribbean. But Cortés was just using Jack to achieve his own goals. His true intention was to take control of the Aztec spirits inside the Stone eye, and with the power of the Sword, make himself ruler of the Seven Seas.

Final defeat[]

Cortes vs Montezuma

The spirits of Montecuhzoma and Cortés.

"Fool. You think this is all about you. You think the power of the Sword was meant for the likes of you, who are little more than a bilge rat."
"I take offense to that. Were I a rat, I would certainly not reside in a bilge! I am a captain, after all."
"The power of the Sword is meant for me and for my purposes alone.
―Cortés and Jack Sparrow[src]

Jack Sparrow returned with the Stone eye and the Sword, and then asked Cortés to do what he promised, to teach him to master the Sword so he could heal Tumen. But it was too late, because Tumen died shortly after Jack returned to the island. Cortés then revealed his true intentions to Jack. In response, Jack freed the spirits of the Aztecs from the Stone eye.[12]

The spirit of the Aztec emperor Montecuhzoma rose from the eye, and after creating the two Swords of Light, attacked Cortés, who was responsible for the destruction of his empire and his death. Cortés attempted to use his Sword to destroy the vengeful Aztec, but the magical powers of Montecuhzoma were too great even for him. After disarming the undead conquistador, Montecuhzoma trapped Cortés and flied with him below the surface of the sea. When Montecuhzoma reappeared, he was alone.[13]

After the disappearance of Cortés, Jack Sparrow took the conquistador's Sword and used it to undone everything that would please its former master.

Personality and traits[]

"Now we know why he was a conquistador and not a school teacher in his former life."
Jack Sparrow to Arabella Smith about Cortés[src]

During his mortal life, Hernán Cortés was a corrosive conquistador. His main goal during his conquest of Mexico was how to acquire gold and power. His greed was so great, that even the stone chest filled with 882 pieces of gold wasn't enough for him. During his afterlife, he was a lying, treacherous person who used others to do his bidding. Human lives meant nothing to him, and he was willing to do anything that was necessary to take complete control over the Seven Seas.

Equipment and skills[]

"Cortes slaughtered an entire empire. He could have very well used that sword to do it."
Fitzwilliam P. Dalton III to Jack Sparrow[src]

As a conquistador, Hernán Cortés was dressed in an armor made of iron and silver. As a ghost, he looked like the living dead, and his breath stank like a barrel of rotten fish. His most prominent weapon was his cursed sword, which he used to crush the Aztecs. Thanks to the powers of the Sword, the Aztecs believed that Cortés was a god in human form.

Cortés was able to speak several languages. Aside from Spanish, which was her native language, he also fluently spoke English, although with a thick Spanish accent.

Behind the scenes[]

Lego Cortés

Cortés conquers Mexico as seen in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.


The Pirates of the Caribbean Wiki has a collection of quotes related to Hernán Cortés.


External links[]

Notes and references[]