Mexico’s True Stories Are More Dramatic Than Its Legends
Malinche’s Mother Taught Her About Betrayal
Malinche was born with the name Malinali.
Malinali already had problems before Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico.
Malinali, was born around the year 1500 along the Gulf of Mexico. Her family were nobles from the Nahua tribe, but that didn’t help Malinali much.
When her father died, her mother re-married. Her mother then had a child with her new husband. They wanted their new son to inherit the family’s wealth.
Malinali‘s mother sold her into slavery.
This pyramid from Totonac tribe is located in someone’s backyard in Veracruz.
Malinali was sold to a Mayan tribe. But she was smart and she quickly learned the tribe’s language.
Malinali didn’t remain in the tribe for long. The tribe gave her, and 17 other young women, as gifts to Hernán Cortés and his people.
The world has always been about money and power.
José, our guide, pointed out the impressions from the cannons.
The Totonacs weren’t powerful enough to fight Cortés. They surrendered, agreeing to help him instead.
Malinche Trades Betrayal For Love and Respect
I’m standing at the entrance of Hernán Cortés’ house in Veracruz. Today, it’s covered with mangrove roots.
Cortés never lived here, but his men stored treasures here before sending them back to Spain.
By now, Malinali was Cortés’ property. She was good with languages, and she quickly started learning Spanish. She needed to make herself invaluable.
Malinali helped Cortés any way she could.
She infiltrated the indigenous village Cholula and learned about a plan to ambush Cortés and his men.
She went back and warned Cortés.
In the photo, my husband Dan is standing below The Church of Los Remedios in Cholula. The church was built on the upper platform of a pyramid. Cortés was sending a message to the indigenous people.
Cortés admired her very much. The two even had a child together
By now, Malinali was known as Malinche, her name with a suffix indicating respect. The Spaniards called her Doña Marina.
Malinche helped Cortés conquer Mexico. She is remembered as a traitor.
But recently, women are seeing her as a survivor.
Malinche As A Feminist Icon
Some Mexican women today see her as a very intelligent woman who learned how to survive in a cruel world.
Cortés built this church for Malinche. The two lived separately in Coyoacán, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City.
Frida Kahlo also lived in Coyoacán.
And even though Cortés cared for Malinche, he arranged her marriage with one of his top men.
Conquest And Betrayal Never End Well
Having conquered Mexico, it’s hard to believe that Cortés fell out of favor with the Spanish king, but Cortés had made plenty of enemies during his time in Mexico.
Cortés and his wife are both buried in this church. Each has a plaque on opposite sides of the altar.
It’s frighteningly ironic. Cortés was accused of murdering his wife. Also, this was not where Cortés wanted to be buried. He had asked to be buried in Coyoacán.
Very few people even know he’s buried here, in Mexico City’s historic center.
Both Malinche and Cortés could never escape themselves. Their flaws lead them to the ending they least wanted.
Malinche dedicated herself to Cortés, the one person who respected and cared about her. But she turned on her own people. Malinche died alone, around the age of 30.
Hernan Cortés was full of greed and ambition. He did whatever it took to have wealth and power. He wanted it all, but ended up with nothing.
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