On February 10, 1519, Hernán Cortés set sail for the Yucatán, 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 Cortés, 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. Hernán Cortés 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.