Cortés was born in the Spanish city of Medellín in 1485. When he was a young man, he studied law, but he soon gave that up to seek his fortune in the New World that was just being discovered by Columbus and others.
First he went to the island of Santo Domingo (now known as the Dominican Republic) in 1504. He was only 19 years old at the time. He stayed there for seven years, then took part in the Spanish conquest of Cuba in 1511. He became mayor of Santiago de Cuba and stayed there until 1518.
Cortés was eager for more power and conquests, so he talked the Spanish governor of Cuba into letting him lead an expedition to Mexico in 1519. Mexico had just been discovered by the Spanish explorer de Córdoba a year before.”