TGSA Famous Ancestors of Northeastern Mexico Series

Descendants of Capitán Andrés TAPIA and Isabel SOSA

ALTERNATE NAMES: Andrés de Tapia, Isabel de Sosa


Many Hispanics who trace their ancestry back to Northeastern Mexico, whether they know it or not, descend from Andrés Tapia and his wife Isabel Sosa. Not much is known about Tapia’s early life or his ancestry other than that he was born in the late 1400s in Medellín, Extremadura, Spain. Different sources provide three different sets of parents, so additional research is needed.

In 1504 young Tapia was appointed page/valet to Christopher Columbus for Columbus’ 4th and the final journey to the New World. This particular appointment may have been due to Tapia supposedly being a friend of Columbus’ son. It was in Cuba where Tapia participated in the conquest of the native Taino Indians and where he met Hernán Cortés.

Among the few eyewitnesses to early New World history was Andrés de Tapia – conquistador, explorer of two coastlines, chronicler, and early settler of Mexico City. In 1519 Tapia signed on with Cortés' new expedition to explore further west along the coastlines of what would become Mexico. After landing in Cozumel, Cortes ordered Tapia and others to scout the island and it was there that Tapia discovered a ship-wrecked Spanish priest named Gerónimo Aguilar who was living among the natives. Aguilar was engaged into service as an interpreter. Aguilar spoke Spanish and Mayan but not Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs). Among the slave girls given to Cortés by a Mayan chief was a Mexica slave girl who had been born in a Nahuatl-speaking region. Her real name has been lost to history but she was known as Malintzin, Doña Marina, and La Malinche. Thus translations went from Spanish to Mayan to Nahuatl and back until La Malinche quickly learned Spanish and soon became Cortés' primary interpreter (and mistress) as the Spaniards pushed further into the interior, fighting, “pacifying”, and allying along the way until they reached the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán (Mexico City).

Much has been written about and is readily available on the conquest of the Aztecs and the relationship between their leader Montezuma and Hernán Cortés but suffice it to say that Andrés de Tapia was a participant and witness to most, if not all of it since he was considered one of Cortes' most loyal and trusted captains. He was the first to chronicle the Huey Tzompantli in Tenochtitlán (two round towers and a large rack made entirely of skulls from victims of Aztec ritual sacrifice) which in 2015 was unearthed by archaeologists working in Mexico City near the Templo Mayor (a main temple in the Aztec capital). Tapia wrote this about the monument: “placed on a very large theater made of lime and stone, and on the steps of it were many heads of the dead stuck in the lime with teeth facing outward”. Tapia also took part in the conquest of Michoacan and later was appointed by Cortés to lead the exploration of the Pacific coastline of Nueva España all the way to California in 1535-1536. Among the titles bestowed upon him were Maestre de Campo (Chief of Staff) and Teniente de Capitán General (Lieutenant General).

When Hernán Cortés periodically returned to Spain to present his progress reports to the monarchs, Andrés de Tapia would accompany him. It is believed that Tapia married Doña Isabel de Sosa during one of these visits. She was born in Toledo, Spain about 1500, the daughter of Pedro de Gómez de Casares and Isabel Sosa. Tapia brought her to Mexico City in 1530 where they raised their children.

After Cortés' death in 1547 Tapia settled in Mexico City with his family. In his later years, he wrote about his observations and first-hand experiences as a conquistador in his book Relación de Algunas Cosas de las Que Acaecieron al Muy Ilustre Señor Don Hernando Cortés (Account of Some Things That Happened to the Very Illustrious Hernando Cortés).

In 1561, after an extraordinary life, Andrés de Tapia died in Mexico City. Doña Isabel Sosa followed much later in 1596.

This Descendant Report extracted by Crispín Rendón from his personal database in June 2022 consists of 12 generations and 22,172 descendants and spouses.

Relación de Algunas Cosas de las Que Acaecieron al Muy Ilustre Señor Don Hernando Cortés by Andrés de Tapia

The Conquistadors by Patricia de Fuentes. This book contains several first-person accounts of the conquest of Mexico including the translation of Andrés Tapia’s account above.

Intro by TGSA
Descendant Report by Crispín Rendón

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