Who was Malinche? : The key that open the Mexican door

The young Malinalli, or better known Malinche, the indigenous woman that accompanied  Hernán Cortés during the long conquer process of the Aztec Empire.

In 1519, Hernán Cortés was on his way to conquer Mexico. He was at the Tabasco coast, primarily inhabited by the Maya civilization. After winning an important battle, local leaders offered 12 young ladies to the Spanish conqueror.

Malinalli, Malinche or Misses Marina for the Spanish was one of these 12 girls, what Cortés did not know by then is the fact that she was going to be an important puzzle for the operations against Aztecs.

She was born around 1500, near to the capital Olmeca, southeast of the Aztec Empire, currently Veracruz. She belonged to a noble family, her father was Painala city governor and her childhood had drew a promising future. Everything went down when her father dies and her mother married a local man.

The couple had a descendant to whom they gave all the heritage while simultaneously they were getting rid of little Malinalli. They made everybody believed Malinali had died, but in real life they gave her to some random traders.

Then she was sold multiple times, until she got to the hands of Potonchán in the Maya civilization. Potonchán finally gaver her to Hernán Cortés.

Girls were given to offer support with cooking and some other domestic actions, even though it was pretty easy for them and the Spanish to become something else.

Before they could be accepted they were baptized not because of religion purposes, but mainly because of a legal requirements that allow the Spanish relate with the indigenous women.

Malinalli was named Misses Marina in a ceremony, and given by Hernán Cortés to his relative, Alonso Hernández Portocarrero.

Cortés went from Potochán to San Juan de Ulúa. He was planning a conquest camp when some Moctezuma leaders arrived and started askin some questions to the travelers.

Cortés called Jerónimo de Aguilar, a Spanish that knew the Maya language. He had lived many years in Yucatán. Unexpectedly, he could not understand what they were saying, they were speaking in Náhualt.

In that precise moment, they discovered Marina was a Náhualt speaker besides the Maya language. This was her parents language.

So in less words, Marina was and interpreter. They worked in chain, Cortés would talk to Aguilar, Aguilar to Marina, and Marina to the indigenous communities.

This translation process was decisive for the advance of Cortés, not only because of the communication but because of the trust they build with the indigenous tribes that helped him to face their common enemy, Moctezuma.

After this first event, Marina’s life changed radically. Cortés promised freedom and a husband for her. Not long after, he made her his lover.

Their relation was so intimate and productive, that Cortés was called Marina’s captain. She saved them in many opportunities from potential death.

Thanks to her knowledge about indigenous languages, geography and the politic situation of the country. Misses Marina made the Mexico conquest less violent than it could have been.

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