Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Opening paragraphs...........

It may come as a surprise to those who bear in their minds a stereotypical impression of Hernan Cortes that when he was a baby he was so puny and sickly that his wet-nurse many times placed lighted candles for him on the altar of the little church in Medellin as she chanted prayers for his survival.  Cortes was not suckled by his mother, Dona Catalina Pizarro Altimarano de Cortes, though she was well endowed with milk, because stylish young ladies of lineage in 1485, when Cortes was born, believed that breast feeding led to excessive enlargement of their bosoms.  Consequently Dona Catalina's husband, Martin Cortes de Monroy, found a servant-woman who happened to be fresh, after having lost a child of her own, and hired her to nurse the baby.  Martin Cortes owned a few stony acres in Estremadura, which is in the interior of the Iberian peninusla not far from the Spanish border with Portugal; often strapped for money, he had cause to grumble over the avoidable expense, yet in deference to his wife's pride and vanity (and perhaps because he liked her figure as it was) he bore the cost; and on the milk from those hired breasts the colicky infant endured.

-Cortes: The Great Adventurer and the Fate of Aztec Mexico
by Richard Lee Marks

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