The term “conquistador” literally means the conqueror. In the XV-XVI centuries, Spain received at its disposal vast areas of the New World. The impoverished knights and noblemen who needed the means were at hand. And far from Europe they received much more freedom than at home. The conquistadors set out to search for wealth and explore new lands.
These conquerors brutally suppressed the performances of the local population, enriching themselves with robbery. For the sake of wealth, fearless warriors were ready to overcome hundreds and thousands of kilometers, organizing full-scale wars and killing civilians. But thanks to the conquistadors and their aggressive campaigns, Europe learned about the new lands. The most fortunate of them received even royal awards, including titles. And the names of the famous conquistadors went down in history.
Hernán Cortés (1485-1547).
Cortez was a poor hidalgo, who could have been proud of his own kind. After receiving a university education, he chose a military career. Naturally, such a promising land of the New World did not remain without his attention. Already at the age of 19, a brave Spaniard arrived in Haiti, where he immediately took part in punitive expeditions. In 1510-1514, the conquistador helped win the crown for Cuba. Cortes showed himself not just a warrior, but also a diplomat. This allowed him in 1518 to obtain the right to an aggressive campaign in Mexico. To equip this expedition Cortez sold all his property and got into debt. The campaign was successful – the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs and in the territory of modern Mexico founded the colony of New Spain. Her governor and became Hernan Cortez. In 1528 the conquistador returned to Spain, where he was showered with royal grace. Return to the New World did not bring him new glory. The last years of his life the famous conqueror spent in Spain, shrouded in glory, but ignoring the king. Tired of the ships and debts, Cortez wanted to return again to Mexico, so memorable to him, but he did not have time. Of the 62 years of his life, the great conquistador in the New World eventually spent 34 years. Francisco de Montejo (1479-1553).
This conquistador was an ally of Alvarado and Cortes. The first historical information about de Montejo dates back to 1514, when the Spaniard went to Cuba. There he, in search of glory, sided with Juan de Grichalva. Then came the conquest of Mexico with Cortes. De Montejo became the founder of the city of Veracruz, he Cortez entrusted the transportation of the first treasures to the Spanish king and a message about the conquest of the new colony. Thanks to the activity of the conquistador and his leader was favorably received at the court. In 1526, de Montejo was appointed governor of the Yucatán and proceeded to conquer the peninsula. That campaign turned out to be bloody – the Europeans met with fierce resistance from the Indians. De Montejo resorted to cruel executions, killing even women with children. Conquering the Yucatán by 1535, the conquistador established seven cities, gold mines, and plantations. Screwed in intrigues, in 1550 de Montejo was recalled to Spain, where he died.
Francisco Pizarro (1475-1541).
This Spaniard did not receive special education, and remained illiterate. In his youth Pizarro had time to fight in Italy. And in 1502 he was captured by stories about the New World, the land of fabulous riches. Together with Alonso de Ojeda Pizarro went to South America. There he took part in the creation of a new Christian settlement, and soon became its governor. Since 1524, Pizarro began sending expeditions to Peru, the conquest of the Incas. And in 1531 the conquistador received official permission from the king to conquer the new provinces. Pizarro was able in 1532 to capture the Inca leader, demanding a huge ransom in the form of a room filled with gold and silver. The Spaniards captured the Incan capital, the city of Cuzco. In 1535, Pizarro founded the city of Lima. As it happens, in a wave of glory and power, the conquistador quarreled with his companions and was killed in the course of the plot.
Diego de Almagro (1475-1538).
For an illegitimate child, who even received the name in honor of his native city, fate gave a chance to prove himself in new lands. Almagro appeared in the New World in 1514. In 1525, together with Pizarro, he went to the Southern Expedition. In it, he lost one eye, which is why in portraits the conquistador is often portrayed in profile. Together in Pizarro de Almagro with his people conquered Peru, received a large part of the ransom of Atahualpa. The seized territory was divided by the Spanish king into two governorates. The new Toledo went to Almagro, and New Castile to Pizarro. Here are just a large part of the territory of the first he still had to conquer. In 1537, during the anti-Spanish uprising, Almagro managed to press the rival and capture Cusco, declaring himself governor of Peru. But Pizarro could not defeat the conquistador. De Almagro was taken prisoner and was executed.
Vasco de Balboa (1475-1519).
This Spanish conquistador managed to become the founder of the first European city in America and the first European to reach the Pacific coast. And this representative of the petty nobility had no choice but to torture his fortune in unknown lands. Already in 1500, de Balboa explored Colombia. Then he tried for 10 years to make a living plantations in Haiti, which he failed. Razorivshis, Balboa enlisted in the colonial expedition. The Spaniard suggested setting up a settlement on the peaceful Panama Isthmus. There he founded Santa Maria la Antigua, becoming its governor. The first settlers lived thanks to trade – for gold they gave gullible gulls to gullible natives. In search of the country Eldorado Balboa reached in 1513 to the Pacific Ocean, calling it the Southern Sea. And he christened new lands for Peru. But the rivalry with the new king appointed by the king led to the arrest and execution of the bold conquistador. Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar (1456-1524).
This conquistador went down in history how to conquer Cuba. He was a member of the second Columbus expedition, having visited with his already expeditions to Yucatan, Mexico and Florida. In 1511 the Spaniard was appointed governor of Cuba, having stayed on this post until his death. De Cuellar founded many cities, including Havana in 1515. Caution in the development of new lands caused dissatisfaction with other Spaniards, including Cortez. As a result, Velazquez was generally forbidden to conduct any activity outside the island. Only in 1517 de Cuéllar began organizing at his own expense an expedition to the Yucatán. There, the future associates of Cortez – Alvarado, de Montejo, Bernal Diaz, gained their fame. But the young Cortez seized the initiative and went on an independent expedition. Velasquez de Cuéllar spent the rest of his life not in campaigns, but in trying to preserve political greatness and to ascribe to himself the successes of Cortés. Pedro de Valdivia (1497-1553).
This conquistador became for Chile a true national hero, the founder and conqueror of the country, her first governor-general. De Valdivia had time to fight in Castile, Flanders and Italy. The petty nobleman eventually went to the New World, being in 1534 in the territory of modern Venezuela. It was de Valdivia who became one of Pizarro’s main associates, defeating his rival, Almagro. In the campaigns for new lands, Valdivia gained wealth, having received a silver mine in the possession of the land. And in 1539 he asked Pizarro permission to proceed to conquer Chile, which was allowed. That’s just all the funds for the campaign conquistador had to take out of his own pocket. The campaign was difficult – Valdivia had to face both betrayal, and the machinations of competitors, severe natural conditions. In 1541, the Spaniard laid the city of Santiago and was declared governor of New Extremadura. De Valdivia sent many letters to Emperor Charles V, who became an invaluable source of knowledge about the first years of the existence of Chile. And in 1553, when trying to pacify the rebellion of the Indians, the governor was seized by them and brutally executed.Pedro Álvarado (1485-1541).
In the family of Pedro Alvarado, the ancestors on the male line were military. He himself went to Haiti in 1510 with his uncle and five younger brothers. Alvarado took part in the expedition de Grichalva to the Yucatan, where he learned about the untold treasures of these lands. And in 1519 the conquistador joined the detachment of Cortez, commanding one of his ships. Pedro Alvarado managed to achieve the full confidence of his boss, becoming his actual deputy. The Spaniard showed cruelty, having interrupted many noble Aztecs, including in their main temple. And in 1524, on the instructions of Cortes, Alvarado went to conquer Guatemala. And again the bloody trail reached for the Spaniard. In 1527 he received the title of governor and settled in the city of Santiago de los Caballeros, which he founded. From there he led the campaigns to Honduras, Salvador and Belize. The Indians nicknamed their enemy “sun” for his red hair. The famous conquistador died, suppressing another uprising of conquered tribes. Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada (1509-1579).
Surprisingly, this conquistador was pretty peaceful. He was generally remembered as a writer and historian. De Quesada came from a noble family and was educated in the field of law. In 1535, he was sent to manage the coastal settlement of Santa Marta in Colombia. From there, he went to conquer the country, which he named New Granada (today – Colombia). The conquistador’s journey passed through the tropical jungle and was accompanied by skirmishes with hostile tribes. The Spaniards were looking for the mythical city of Eldorado, but they found the state of the chibcha instead. Europeans were mistaken for the gods. De Quesada renamed the capital of the Indians in Santa Fe de Bogotá. Due to his calm character, this conquistador over thirty years managed the New Granada, defending the settlers. And dreams of Eldorado and remained dreams – the desired city de Quesada never found.
Hernando de Soto (1498-1542).
This conquistador became famous not for his trips to the rich south – he first carried out a campaign of Europeans north of Mexico. De Soto became the pioneer of the Mississippi River, leaving documentary evidence of this. And again the Spaniard became a descendant of the poor hidalgo. At 16, De Soto went to the New World. In Central America, he proved himself a cruel conquistador, but at the same time a good fighter and tactician. In 1531 de Soto participated in the campaign of Pizarro against the Incas, becoming his captain. That expedition brought wealth to the conquistadors. Seeing the rivalry between Pizarro and de Almagro, de Soto returned to Spain. Here he achieved the post of Governor of Cuba and returned to the New World. In 1539 the Spaniard landed in Florida, reaching the shores of Alabama and Mississippi. The conquistador died in 1542 in Louisiana, without him the campaign had to be stopped. And although the expedition as a whole was a failure, its historical significance turned out to be great. Some tribes of Indians left the valley of the Mississippi, and the horses, escaped from the Spaniards, initiated the population of the mustangs.