In 1519, Hernán Cortés landed on the vast inland of Mexico along with 600 Spaniards, approximately 16 horses, and 11 boats. The Spanish conquistador and his men were about to embark on a conquest of an empire that hoarded some of the world’s greatest treasure.
This daring undertaking seemed insurmountable because for more than 600 years, conquerors had never succeeded. For this reason, Cortés did something daring when he arrived at the land of the Mayans.
Instead of charging through cities and forcing his men into immediate battle, Cortés stayed on the beach and awoke the souls of his men with emblazoned speeches. However, it was just three words he murmured that changed the history of the New World. As they marched inland to face their enemies, Cortés ordered, “Burn the boats.”