Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Spanish Conquistadors

Picture of Hernando Cortes

Picture of Hernando Cortes

Spanish Conquistadors
The Renaissance & Elizabethan Age of Exploration to the New World was dominated by the Spanish Conquistadors. The success of the Spanish Conquistadors in acquiring monopolies on much of the Eastern spice trade and their expeditions to the New World brought great wealth and power to Spain.

The new discoveries made by the Spanish Conquistadors brought untold riches in terms of gold and silver and spices and it also brought power and influence...

Who were the Spanish Conquistadors?
The Spanish word Conquistador means conqueror. The Conquistadors were Spanish Soldiers and Explorers - 'el conquistador'

The History of the Spanish Conquistadors
Spain had successfully taken the Iberian peninsula from the Muslim Moors after nearly eight hundred years of conflict. This victory was referred to as the 'reconquista'. The conflict with the Muslim Moors had been seen as a continuation of the Medieval Crusades. The crusades were a series of religious Holy Wars which had been given the blessing of the Pope. They were fought by Roman Catholic soldiers. The Spanish explorers / soldiers saw their mission to conquer new lands as a natural extension of the Medieval crusades. Roman Catholic Priests and Friars always accompanied the Spanish explorers who were expected to convert heathen natives to Christianity. The explorer / soldiers who travelled to the New World adopted the name 'Conquistadors'.

The Motives of the Spanish Conquistadors
The motives of the Spanish Conquistadors and their patrons were prompted by:

  • Wealth - gold, silver and spices
  • Power
  • Prestige
  • Increasing opportunities for Spanish trade
  •  Spreading the Catholic Religion to heathen natives
  • Building a Spanish Empire

The people of Spain adhered to the Catholic religion. Many were fanatical about their religion - the Spanish Inquisition was an example of this. The idea of spreading the Catholic faith to heathen races was seen as a primary reason for the Spanish Conquistadors to undertake voyages of discovery.

The Attitudes of the Spanish Conquistadors to the Natives- the Encomienda system
The attitude of the Spanish conquistadors to the natives was that they were savage and pagan. The Spanish government had decreed that the Encomienda system should be established in the New World - it came to signify the oppression and exploitation of the Native Indians, although this was not their original intent. The the Encomienda system was similar to the Medieval Feudal system. The primary purpose of the Encomienda system was to indoctrinate the Indians in the Catholic faith. The Indians were expected to pay a tribute to the Spanish Conquistadors in return for protection and religious instruction. The Encomienda system was totally abused - the Conquistadors were thousands of miles away from Spain and they behaved as they saw fit. The natives were abused, oppressed, exploited, ill-treated and decimated by the Spanish Conquistadors. The Indians lost their freedom, their rights, their culture and their religion. The Spanish Conquistadors were feared and hated and the very name 'Conquistador' still conveys these terrible impressions - 'el conquistador'. The Encomienda system was replaced by new laws in 1542.

List of Spanish Conquistadors

  • Hernan Cortes: 1518 - 1522 Mexico. 1524 Honduras. 1532 - 1536 California

  • Vasco Nunez de Balboa: 1510 - 1519. Panama

  • Juan Ponce de Leon: 1508. Puerto Rico. 1513 Florida

  • Francisco Pizarro: 1509 - 1535 Peru

  • Hernando de Soto: 1539 - 1542 Florida & South East United States

  • Francisco Vazquez de Coronado: 1540 - 1542 Arizona and New Mexico

  • Cristobal de Olid: 1523 -1524 Honduras

  • Gonzalo Pizarro: 1532 - 1542 Peru

  • Juan Pizarro: 1532 - 1536 Peru

  • Hernando Pizarro: 1532 - 1560 Peru

  • Ines Suarez: 1541 Chile

  • Pedro de Valdivia: 1540 - 1552 Chile

  • Diego de Almagro: 1524 - 1535 Peru 1535 - 1537 Chile

  • Pedro Menendez de Aviles: 1565 - 1567 Florida

  • Pánfilo de Narvaez: 1527 - 1528 Florida

  • Pedro de Alvarado: 1519 - 1521 Mexico. 1523 - 1527 Guatemala. 1533 - 1535 Peru. 1540 - 1541 Mexico

  • Diego Velazquez de Cuellar: 1511 - 1519 Cuba

  • Sebastian de Belalcazar: 1533 - 1536 Ecuador and Colombia

  • Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada: 1536 - 1537 Colombia. 1569 - 1572 Venezuela

  • Martin de Ursua: 1696 - 1697 Guatemala

  • Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba: 1517 Yucatan

  • Martín de Goiti: 1570 - 1571 Manila, Philippines

  • Miguel Lopez de Legazpi: 1565 - 1571 Philippines

  • Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba: 1517 Yucatan

  • Juan de Grijalva: 1518 Yucatan

  • Francisco de Montejo: 1527 - 1546 Yucatan

  • Francisco de Orellana: 1541 - 1543 Amazon River

  • Juan de Salcedo: 1570 - 1576 Philippines

  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca: 1527 - 1536 South West United States. 1540 - 1542 South America

  • Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon: 1524 - 1527 East Coast United States

  • Diego de Nicuesa: 1506 - 1511 Panama

Famous Spanish Conquistadors
A biography and timeline  about the most famous Spanish Conquistadors have been developed with facts, history and information. They can be accessed by clicking one of the following links:

Francisco Pizarro
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
Juan Ponce de Leon
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado
Hernando De Soto
Hernando Cortes
Juan de Onate
Panfilo de Narvaez
Cabeza de Vaca
Juan de Onate
Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
Spanish Explorers
The Age of Exploration
Elizabethan Era Index

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