On February 10, 1519, Hernan Cortes set sail for the Yucatan, seeking gold and a new world to conquer. Within nine months, he had reached the capital of the Aztec kingdom and taken its ruler, Montezuma, prisoner. The arrival of Cortes, though, marked a clash of civilizations that would forever alter the region and its people. The Aztecs possessed a populous kingdom filled with riches, art, and architecture, but the explorer's arrival destroyed that kingdom and its population through fighting and disease. ""Hernan Cortes"" is the story of an ambitious man who was heralded as a heroic conqueror, a ruthless explorer who presented his king with a territory nine times larger than Spain itself, and a skilled military commander whose actions forever altered the land that we know today as Mexico.
Heather Lehr Wagner is the author of more than 40 books that explore social and political issues for middle school and high school readers. She earned a B.A. in political science from Duke University and an M.A. in government from the College of William and Mary. Wagner lives in Pennsylvania.