Hernán Cortés
Weapons Espada Ropera, Alabarda, Arquebus, Steel Cuirass and Morion, Garrote
Origin Spain
Activities Conquering the Aztecs
Acquiring gold
Service 1504-1521
Battle Status Won vs. Ivan the Terrible
Experts Jason Heck (16th Century Weapons Expert)

Kyle Lopez (Spanish Colonial Expert)

Hernán Cortés, the brutal Spanish explorer whose conquistadors conquered the largest empire in North America of the 16th Century;

vs. Ivan the Terrible, Russia's sadistic 16th Century tsar whose murderous, mounted death squads built Europe's largest empire of its time.


  • C 1521 AD
  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5'4"
  • Weight: 160 lb
  • Symbol: Morion (Conquistador Helmet)


Between February 1482 – January 2, 1492; the Granada War allowed the Spanish Empire to reclaim the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims. The Spanish monarchs showed an extreme desire for Catholic expansion; as seen in their forceful conversions led by the Spanish Inquisition against the remaining Muslim and Jewish populations in the Peninsula.

In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba; leading to Spain's early expansion into the Americas. Cuba quickly became a wealthy colony due to its geographical location within the Caribbean and fertile farming land.

Born in Medellin, Spain in 1485, Hernán Cortés attended the University of Salamanca when he was 14, but left after two years after hearing stories of the New World. He reached the New World in 1504, and several years later, participated in the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba (which begun under Christopher Columbus), receiving a large estate of land and Native American slaves from the leader of the expedition. Cortes was most likely involved in the repression and genocide of the Taino people of Hispanolia: which (according to the historian David Holmstrom) saw the native population plummet from 250,000 to only 200 (however other estimates have estimates of the population plummeting from 8 million to 14,000.)

Hernan Cortes

In 1518, the Governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, put Cortés in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. At the last minute, Velézquez revoked his charter, but Cortés, in direct mutiny, ignored the orders and went ahead with the original plan. Cortes ordered his men to strip and scuttle (sink) his own fleet to prevent any return to Cuba by those Conquistadors loyal to de Cuéllar.

Cortés defeated the local natives at Tabasco, Mexico in 1519 and in just two years, he had brought upon the fall of the Aztec Empire. Despite his small army and the fact that Cortes directly ignored the Spanish Kingdom (even almost being executed for such treason) he managed to win the favor of Spain by conquering modern day Mexico (including the Aztecs). He did this by using superior Renaissance technology, allying himself with American tribes who opposed the Aztecs and using disease as a biological weapon of mass destruction.

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was declared in 1519. The colony fell on September 27, 1821 when the Spainish Empire was weakened during Napoleon's decolonization of the Americas and the Napoleonic Wars.

Cortés gained much gold (though became bankrupt multiple times) and died at 62 in Spain. His body was moved to Mexico but due to fears of being desecrated his body was constantly moved. Today it is protected by the Mexican state. The reputation of the Conquistadors today, Corets especially, is highly controversial. While they led the rise of the Spanish Empire; they also committed mass genocide, mass forced conversions to Catholicism and enslaved much of the Native Americans they governed. The diseases they exposed the Natives to (both intentionally and unintentionally) led to European empires buying African slaves (to compensate for the deaths of Native American slaves) and thus led to the beginning of the Colombian Triangle.


Short Range Espada Ropera
Medium Range Alabarda
Long Range Arquebus
Armor Steel Cuirass

Deadliest Warrior: Legends weapons

Short Range: Espada Ropera and Main Gauche, Side Sword and Main Gauche

Medium Range: Alabarda, Poleaxe

Long Range: Pistol Crossbow, Arquebus

Armor: Court Regalia, Conquistador Armor

Joke Weapon: Grim Reaper's Scythe

Final Strike: After knocking his opponent on the ground, Cortés will offer his hand in friendship. His victim takes his hand, and Cortés pulls him to his feet, stabbing them in the back with his dagger.

Simulated Battle

RedRedRedRedRed Ivan The Terrible

BlueBlueBlueBlueBlue Hernán Cortés

The battle begins in a field with Ivan the Terrible knelt in a silent prayer, surrounded by 2 Russian Streltsy soldiers and 2 Oprichniki horsemen. He looks toward the sky, and then looks down to a bloodied prisoner tied to two horses, who is about to be quartered. Ivan smirks at the condemned as he rises from his kneeling position. Elsewhere, Hernán Cortés and 4 of his conquistadors are out for a ride when Cortés suddenly spots the group of men. The First Tsar of Russia nods to one of the hooded Oprichniki and the horsemen begin to pull. Ivan laughs at the prisoner's pain as Cortés, who has dismounted from horseback, shows concern and signals for his men to take position with their Arquebus rifle. Ivan immediately stops laughing when he notices the group of men aiming their firearms at his death squad. Cortés gives the signal with his sword and the conquistadors open fire. Before the gunmen fire, Ivan quickly grabs one of his Streltsy soldiers and pulls him in front of him. The Russian is killed by the assault of bullets but the Terrible Tsar is knocked down to the ground by the force of the bullets. Reddead As the Spanish riflemen hurry to reload their rifles, Ivan gets back to his feet and runs over to one of the horses, pulling the Oprichnik down.

Meanwhile, the last Streltsy sets up his Bardiche axe as a mount for his Pischal rifle, shooting and killing one of the Spaniards who shot the other soldier. Bluedead Ivan draws his Sablia and rides on, pulling the prisoner in half and dragging the torso behind him. The remaining soldier and the dismounted Oprichnik charge the Spaniards. The conquistadors calmly hold their ground as one of the Spaniards takes an Alabarda from his horse and hands it to Cortés. As the conquistadors continue to reload, Ivan rides up and slashes one of them in the face, killing him instantly. Bluedead He then changes course and rides to a retreating conquistador who has his Espada Ropera drawn and slashes him in the back of the neck, also killing him. Bluedead

Elsewhere, the mounted Oprichnik draws his Sablia and rides towards Cortés, who is still armed with his Alabarda. Cortés holds his ground and reaches with the poleaxe, pulling the hooded man down from horseback. Cortés then raises the poleaxe and brings it down into the Oprichnik's face. Reddead The last Oprichnik charges at the head conquistador with his saber drawn. Cortés lifts the axe from the dead man's hood, parrying the sword and countering with a thrust attack, which impales the Oprichnik through the chest. Reddead Cortés then calls for his horse, which the last mounted conquistador brings to him. The conquistador then rides on with his sword drawn. However, he is shot off his horse by the last Streltsy, who then finishes him off with a strike to the mid-section with his Bardiche while he is still down. Bluedead

Cortés then charges forth on his horse, slashing the Russian in the face with his Espada Ropera as he lifts the heavy Bardiche for a strike. Reddead Ivan then spots Cortés and charges at him, sword raised. Ivan slashes Cortés as he rides by, but Cortés is unfazed as the saber bounces off his steel breastplate. After the charge is finished, Ivan notices that Cortés managed to cut him on his right cheek. Ivan gleefully licks the blood from his finger, then gives a shout as he and Cortés charge at each other, both men shouting. As the warriors ride past each other, Cortés ducks under Ivan's wild swing and thrusts his sword forward, puncturing Ivan's neck. Ivan slumps down in his saddle as he quickly bleeds out, then falls face down from his horse to the ground. Reddead Hernán Cortés then walks up to the fallen Tsar, holding his right breast where the sword struck him and kicks Ivan to make sure that he's dead. Seeing no movement, Cortés holds his sword up and kneels down, taking the dead Tsar's money pouch and finding gold coins. Smiling at his spoils, Cortés stands up and raises his sword, shouting "¡Gloria!" (Glory) triumphantly.

Expert's Opinion

The reason why Cortés won was because of his superior armor as well that his alabarda was able to dismount Ivan's men off their horses. Not only that, Cortés also won the majority of X-Factors particularly for Psychological Health, whereas Ivan's unstable mentality meant he wasn't able to lead his troops as effectively in battle, especially if they were fighting a close fight.


  • At 5' 4", Cortés is tied with Joan of Arc for the shortest European warrior, shorter even than Napoleon (famous for the myth of him being short).
  • Cortés has 3 different armors shown in the Deadliest Warrior episode- no armor, cuirass and helmet only, and full knight armor. In real life, Cortés started his expeditions with little or no armor and progressively gained more armor to show his increasing wealth during his conquests. The armor shown on the TV show is during the conquest of the Aztecs, which was the middle of his campaigns.
  • There is a common misconception that Hernan Cortes defeated the Aztecs with an army of at most a few thousands soldiers. However that was only the case regarding the European Conquistadors specifically; Cortes' forces were mostly other Native-American tribes, the Siege of Tenochtitlan was measured at 80,000-200,000 for the Spanish made alliance against the Aztecs.
  • There is historical evidence to suggest that Francisco Pizarro, the tyrant conquistador of Peru, was a distant cousin of Cortes.
  • Cortes' use of halberd and muskets is an infantry combat combination known as 'Pike and Shot'.
  • When initially arriving in the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs worshiped Hernan as a god due to his white skin; as Aztecs thought that their gods normally had lighter skin than that of an Aztec.
  • Before the Columbian Exchange; there were no oranges in Florida, no bananas in Ecuador, no potatoes in Ireland, no coffee in Colombia, no pineapples in Hawaii, no rubber trees in Africa, no tomatoes in Italy, and no chocolate in Switzerland.
  • The West Indies got their name from India, as there was a misconception (that Christopher Columbus believed) that sailing west from Europe would lead to India. Europeans also mistaken India for all of Asia; hence why Native Americans were never called 'Asians'.
  • Bandeirantes were the Portugese equivalent of Conquistadors. They committed similar acts of invasions and enslavement of native peoples as the Conquistadors. Their conquests were relatively gradual and easy as Native Brazilians had no major empires and many of their tribes were not unified nor large enough to resist these invaders.
  • Thanks to the Conquistador conquests of the Aztec and Incan Empires; Charles the V was declared to be the first emperor with 'The empire on which the sun never sets'.
  • The Spanish Empire's desire for gold led to mass torture and genocide over the conquered natives. The natives were forced to give up their gold and work in mines as slaves. Those who failed to meet their quotas were tortured, disfigured or executed. Christopher Columbus was the first to commit these crimes in his colonies of Cuba and Hispaniola.
  • One of the reasons why Christopher Columbus is so respected in the USA is due to the popular retelling of Columbus made by the famous writer Washington Irving (known for making Sleepy Hollow). Italian immigrants to the USA popularized this exaggerated depiction of Columbus as Columbus was Italian. This soon led to Columbus Day.
  • The warcrimes and genocide committed by Conquistadors were normally justified by the idea that the Aztecs and other Native Americans were savage pagans that either deserved their punishments and needed to be forced into Christianity to 'save' their civilization. However this mentality had strong criticism within Spain and wasn't unilaterally embraced by all Spaniards; with Bartolomé de las Casas suggesting that the Natives should have been allowed to keep their independence.
    • The warcrimes committed by the Conquistadors inspired the buccaneer pirate Daniel Montbars to wage war against the Spanish. Daniel was already rich, and so was one of the few examples of a Caribbean pirate who plundered as an act of vengeance rather than profit.
  • The Spanish Empire became bankrupt primarily because of its overseas territories. The amount of silver discovered in the Americas created hyperinflation for the value of silver coins. The Spanish also had to maintain a massive armada to protect their colonies and Atlantic trade; an armada that was mostly destroyed by a series of unlucky storms and failed invasions of Great Britain.
  • One of Cortes' conquistadors was patient-zero for the Native American smallpox epidemic. Between 1520 to 1580: the Native Mexican population dropped from 22 million to 2 million (9%).
    • Pre-Colombian Native American population has been estimated to be as high as 100,000,000. Europe at this time was only 70,000,000.
      • Native American populations in 1900 were 5% of their Pre-Colombian population. 90% of this population died from diseases like flu and smallpox; sometimes intentionally spread by Westerners. Only 5% of this population were killed by direct wars or massacres. Total estimates are at least 100 million; although this is difficult to confirm.

  • Hernán Cortés was portrayed by equestrian and mounted weapons expert Ardeshir Radpour, one of the experts on the Persian Immortal in the Persian Immortal vs Celt episode of Season 2.
  • Some of the scenes from the episode was stock footage taken from BBC's Heroes and Villains - Hernán Cortés.
  • Cortés himself killed 4 out of the 5 warriors he fought, tied for the highest number of kills for one warrior in a squad on squad fight (not counting Vampires vs. Zombies) with the Spetsnaz leader, Crazy Horse, and arguably Saddam Hussein.
  • This fight was the first to involve matchlock firearms and was the earliest warriors of the 'modern fighters', the guns so primitive that only one type of gun was used per warrior.