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Spanish conquistadors date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. This term refers to those explorers and soldiers who put most of the North and South America under Spanish rule from the 15th through the 17th century. This conquest followed the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Hernan Cortes and Pedro de Alcarado y Contreras are known as the pioneers of the conquest of the Aztec empire, which ultimately led to the conquest of the Inca Empire by the famed adventurer and soldier called Francisco Pizarro.
Background of the Spanish Conquistadors
Most of these adventurers and soldiers hailed from nobility and had already taken part in different battles within the Iberian Peninsula and faraway in Italy. The Spanish conquistadors who captured most of the Americas were volunteers rather than an organized military outfit.
They usually provided their own weapons and materials to take part in expeditions to the mainland of the New World around 1516. When they realized that the New World was of massive size they decided to construct settlements there.
When these Spanish conquistadors initially encountered the native Indians known as the Mayans many of the Spaniards were taken as slaves into the mainland. However, the next foray into the new land consisted of a group of well-equipped Spanish volunteers with great horses and equipment and led to a different historical outcome.
The magnificent Spanish horses baffled most of the natives and a handful of Spanish riders were able to control 10,000 warriors. Most of these young Spanish Conquistadors were in their early 30s at that time. One of the Conquistadors, Hernan Cortes kept long detail accounts of his travels as well as general developments on the mainland.
Due to his articulate speech and calm nature he was able to make many friends. People held him in good stead and this allowed him to settle disagreements in a peaceful manner.
Francisco Pizarro, was the oldest of the Conquistadors and was much different from the others. He had been wounded during one expedition and had lost an eye which he covered with a patch.
He was known to have a bad temper and maintain strict order among his troops. These were men of God and tried to establish the ways of Christianity among the natives. A lot of the natives’ demonic practices were changed and new Catholic practices were introduced to the natives by the Spanish Conquistadors.
The captains were chosen by the Spanish Crown. They were awarded authority under a royal commission and that was based on their experience as well as the regard they were held in among the aristocratic, social and military circles.
The Spanish Conquistador often stepped beyond the limited authority accorded them. One example is when Hernan Cortes asked his troops to burn all their ships and start a city on the mainland.
However, they were considered legendary figures in every aspect because they fought and took on challenges with limited resources and a small number of people. The majority of them were from the aristocracy and upper nobility so they were really revered in terms of their contributions to expanding the mission of Spain.