La Malinche was born circa 1500 CE, the exact date of her birth or death, 1527 (?), is not known for sure. She was born to a noblemen in Oluta, a city in the eastern edge of the Veracruz region of Mexico, on the commemorative day dedicated to the Goddess of Grass; who’s name she was given, Malintzin. Later Tenepal, which means “one who speaks much and with liveliness” was added to her name. Most of the details we have of her life come from two letters Hernan Cortez wrote to the King of Spain and the writings of Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a soldier who was with Cortez. Bernal Diaz wrote eye-witness stories from his time with Cortez and Malinche, in Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España, however, many years later, in his old age.
Malintzin may have been afforded some privileges and education because of her status by birth. Unfortunately, for Malintzin her father died, her mother remarried and had a son; in order to pass Malintzin’s inheritance to her husband and son; her mother either sold or gave her to Mayan traders. Her death was faked by showing the townspeople the body of a dead child who had belonged to a slave.
There is no way to possibly know how she was treated while being a slave. I believe she may have been useful to the Mayan traders because of her ability to learn languages. Being quite beautiful and intelligent she was given as tribute to Cortez in 1519 upon the defeat of the Cacique of Tabasco Mayans; she was among 20 young women. Malintzin then became a gift from Cortez to Alonzo Hernando Puertocarrero, a well born member of his expedition. When Puertocarrero went back to Spain, Cortez took her for himself. Besides her native tongue of Nahuatl, the common language of the Aztecs, she also learned several dialects of the Mayan languages from the time she had spent with them. Another member of Cortez expedition was a priest who could speak Mayan, as well as Spanish. This made it easy for Cortez to communicate with the...