Conquistador
Overview
 
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 by Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 in 1492. The two perhaps most famous conquistadors were Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 who conquered the Aztec Empire and Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 who led the conquest of the Incan Empire. They were second cousins and both of them were born in Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

 as well as many of the conquerors who were from Spain.

Conquistadors in the Americas resembled a volunteer militia more than than a regular organized military in that they had to supply their own materials, weapons and horses.
Encyclopedia
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 by Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 in 1492. The two perhaps most famous conquistadors were Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 who conquered the Aztec Empire and Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 who led the conquest of the Incan Empire. They were second cousins and both of them were born in Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

 as well as many of the conquerors who were from Spain.

Conquistadors in the Americas resembled a volunteer militia more than than a regular organized military in that they had to supply their own materials, weapons and horses. Some were supported by governments, such as Hernán Cortés, who was funded by Spain.

The Laws of Burgos, created in 1512–1513, were the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of Spanish settlers in America, particularly with regards to Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

s. They forbade the maltreatment of indigenous people, and endorsed their conversion to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. In the 16th century perhaps 240,000 Europeans entered American ports. By the late 16th century American silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 accounted for one-fifth of Spain's total budget.

Spanish advantages

The conquerors were professional warriors, using modern tactics, firearms, combat dogs, and cavalry tactics against unprepared groups. The Companies would often specialize in forms of combat that required longer periods of training that was not available in the form of a mobilized militia.

Professional Iberian conquering armies were mostly mounted conquistadors of veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

 mercenary
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 soldiers of Iberian or European origin. The native allied troops were largely composed of infantry equipped with armament and armor depending in their tribal origin.

During the 1650s, most troops were mercenaries. However, after the 17th century, most states invested in better disciplined and more politically reliable permanent troops. For a time mercenaries became important as trainers. This allowed the earliest professional military to serve during wartime. Such mercenaries typically formed at the ends of periods of conflict. Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

 summarizes the causes of the Pizarro's victory in the Andean region as "military technology based on guns, steel weapons, and horses; infectious diseases endemic in Eurasia; European maritime technology; the centralized political organization of European states, and writing". The significance of writing is the cause of the errors of judgment of Atahualpa and Moctezuma, which led them to be deceived by the Spaniards, who belonged to a literate society. This allowed the conquerors to have at their disposal a huge body of knowledge about human behavior and its history, something that no native nations possessed.

The strongest war dog
War dog
Dogs in warfare have a long history starting in ancient times. From 'war dogs' trained in combat to their use as scouts, sentries and trackers, their uses have been varied and some continue to exist in modern military usage.-History:...

s, broad-mouthed breeds of mastiff
Mastiff
A mastiff is a type of large dog often used as guard dogs. Mastiff breeds include:*English Mastiff, or mastiff, the largest breed of dog in the world, bred as a Roman war dog.*Alpine Mastiff, an extinct breed originating in Switzerland...

 specifically trained
Attack dog
An attack dog is any dog bred, trained or used for the purpose of attacking a target either on command or on sight. Attack dogs have been used often throughout history and are now employed in dog fighting, as well as police and military roles.- History :...

 for battle, were used against almost nude troops. The Spanish conquistadors used armoured dogs that had been trained to kill and disembowel when they invaded the land controlled by South American natives.

While technological and cultural factors played an important role in the victories and defeats of the conquistadors, one fatal factor was the disease brought from Europe, especially smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

. In an unknown number of cases, diseases first contracted from Europeans by indigenous people were carried to distant tribes and villages. This typical path of disease transmission may have entirely or partially destroyed Indian nations before the conquistadors had actually entered those distant nations.

Another key factor leading to the domination of the Americas was the ability of the conquistadors to manipulate the political situation between local indigenous peoples. For instance, by supporting one side of a civil war, as in the case of the Inca civilization, or allying with natives who had been subjugated by more powerful neighboring tribes and kingdoms, as in the case of the Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 civilization.

Military

Militarily, conquistadors had various advantages over the native peoples, most notably firearms and steel. While the indigenous peoples had the advantage of established settlements, determination to remain independent and large numerical superiority, which in many cases was a decisive factor in the defeat of the conquistadors, European diseases combined with advanced military technology and divide and conquer
Divide and rule
In politics and sociology, divide and rule is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy...

 tactics ultimately overcame the native populations.

Throughout the conquest, the numbers of people within the indigenous nations greatly exceeded the Spanish conquistadors; on average the Spanish population never exceeded 2% of the native population. The Spanish conquistadors commonly allied with natives to bolster their numerically inferior ranks with thousands of indigenous auxiliaries. The army with which Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 besieged Tenochtitlan was composed of 200,000 soldiers, of which fewer than 1% were Spaniards.

Although many American civilizations had developed methods for working soft metals, including gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

, tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 and copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, this knowledge was applied mainly to the development of religious and artistic objects, as well as some household utensils for everyday use. Few metals were used by native populations for military applications. One exception was that the Quechuas and P'urhépecha
P'urhépecha
The P'urhépecha, normally spelled Purépecha in Spanish and in English and traditionally referred to as Tarascans, are an indigenous people centered in the northwestern region of the Mexican state of Michoacán, principally in the area of the cities of Uruapan and Pátzcuaro...

 developed weapons of copper and bronze, but these could not match the hardness or durability of iron and steel. Most cultures used weapons of wood, flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 and obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

. Most conquistadors had limited access to steel armor and helmets as the more common mail
Mail (armour)
Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

 and leather were worn by the Spanish and were an important factor in their success. However, many indigenous cultures had used woven grasses and leathers as similar protection for centuries. In fact, mostly the mounted conquistadors (the cavalry) used steel breastplates and armor during Cortés' campaign against the Aztecs. The varying climate between coastal and mountain regions and high heat and humidity of Central and South America made wearing such heavy iron and steel items mostly impractical, and the humidity caused a significantly faster rate of corrosion than in Europe.

In their first contacts with native peoples, firearms and especially arquebuses were very formidable weapons due to the great impression on morale because of the noise, flash and smoke. Tactically, their effectiveness was limited due to the lengthy reload procedure. Logistically, the conquistadors had difficulty maintaining the weapon, with its availability usually in the single digits for most Spanish parties. The weapons and armor of steel and iron proved to be much more effective militarily. A Spanish sword made from Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

 steel was considered the pinnacle of craftsmanship and a well trained knight could be a dominant foe. To the Spanish, a sword represented their chivalry, honor, and devotion as Christian Knights. When they took control of a nation, the conquistadors usually banned possession of steel swords by the subjugated peoples for civil obedience.

The animals introduced were another important factor. On the one hand, the introduction of the horse to the American continents by the Spaniards allowed them greater mobility and the use of horses and other domesticated pack animals unknown to the Indian cultures. However, in the mountains and jungles, the Spaniards were less able to traverse Amerindian roads and bridges made for pedestrian traffic, which were sometimes no wider than a few feet. In many cases, in places such as Argentina, New Mexico and California, the Spanish taught the indigenous people horsemanship, cattle raising, and sheep herding, and they soon excelled at these new skills. This later became a disputed factor in native resistance to the Spanish and their use of the new techniques. The Spaniards were also skilled at breeding dogs for war, hunting and protection. The introduction of the Mastiff, wolf hound and sheep dog was unexpectedly effective as a psychological weapon against the natives, who, in many cases, had never seen domesticated dogs, though many indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere did, indeed, have domestic dogs; these include, but are not limited to: the current Southwestern US, Aztec and other Central American nations and peoples, the inhabitants of the Arctic/Tundra regions (Inuit, Aleut, Cree), and possibly some South American groups. During the conquest of the Americas, Spanish conquistadors used Spanish Mastiff
Spanish Mastiff
The Spanish Mastiff, or Mastín Español is a large breed of dog, originating in Spain, originally bred to be a Livestock guardian dog and a guard dog whose purpose is to defend livestock from wolves and other predators...

s and other Molossers in battle against Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, like the Taínos, Aztecs, or Mayans. These specially trained dogs were feared by the Indians because of their strength and ferocity.

The Spanish methods of war were similar to those of other European powers, but were more organized and directed within the terms and laws of a just war, considered at all times better than the Indian's with regard to warfare. While Spanish soldiers went to the battlefield to kill their enemies, prominent indigenous peoples like the Aztecs and Mayas
Maya peoples
The Maya people constitute a diverse range of the Native American people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The overarching term "Maya" is a collective designation to include the peoples of the region who share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage; however, the term...

 preferred to capture enemies for use as sacrificial victims to their own gods—a process called "flower war"
Flower war
A flower war or flowery war is the name given to the battles fought between the Aztec Triple Alliance and some of their enemies: most notably the city-states of Tlaxcala, Huejotzingo, Atlixco and Cholula.-Sources:...

 by later Spanish historians.

Disease

One factor in the defeat of the American Indian civilizations was their demographic collapse. There has been debate among researchers as to the cause of that collapse. Some identify genocidal acts by the Europeans as the main cause. Some attribute it to the introduction of new diseases and still others to both factors. Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the Native Americans because of their lack of immunity
Immunity (medical)
Immunity is a biological term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. Immunity involves both specific and non-specific components. The non-specific components act either as barriers or as eliminators of wide...

 to new diseases brought from Europe. The American researcher HF Dobyns estimates that 95% of the total population of the Americas died in the first 130 years. Cook and Borak of the University of California at Berkeley claim that the population in Mexico declined from 25.2 million in 1518 to 700 thousand people in 1623, less than 3% of the original population. In 1492, the combined populations of Spain and Portugal did not exceed 10 million people. There is some consensus that the demographic collapse of the original population of the Americas was the main cause of its military defeat. One factor often overlooked is that there were few strong diplomatic relationships among the vast and greatly dispersed indigenous peoples of the Americas. Most peoples lived in isolated communities, with only limited trade contact and no regular communication. Limited trading was the only constant contact between most New World cultures.

Disease devastating the native population is commonly cited as the primary reason for this decline in population. This happened with the Inca Empire, defeated by Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 in 1533. The first epidemic of smallpox was recorded in 1529 and killed the emperor Huayna Capac
Huayna Capac
Huayna Capac was the eleventh Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire and sixth of the Hanan dynasty. He was the successor to Tupac Inca Yupanqui.-Name:In Quechua, his name is spelled Wayna Qhapaq, and in Southern Quechua, it is Vaina Ghapakh...

, the father of Atahualpa
Atahualpa
Atahualpa, Atahuallpa, Atabalipa, or Atawallpa , was the last Sapa Inca or sovereign emperor of the Tahuantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire, prior to the Spanish conquest of Peru...

, as well as a large portion of the population. New epidemics of smallpox broke out in 1533, 1535, 1558 and 1565, as well as typhus in 1546, influenza in 1558, diphtheria in 1614 and measles in 1618. Dobyns estimated that 90% of the population of the Inca Empire died in these epidemics.

Authors like Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He has lived in France since 1963 with his wife Nancy Huston and their two children, writing books and essays about literary theory, thought history and culture theory....

 and Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

 have highlighted the short time required for the Spanish conquest and establishment in the Americas. Exposure of these previously remote populations to European diseases caused many more fatalities than the wars themselves, and severely weakened the natives' social structures. The Europeans brought small pox, chicken pox, and measles to South America. Recent genetic studies on the skeletal remains of native peoples found that while many hundreds of thousands were killed by violence, an even higher number died from disease. Some estimate that up to 85% of the drop in population was due to illness (see population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas). Many oral stories maintain that the Indians saw this as a sign of a lack of faith in their old customs. The people in the Americas were not previously exposed to the variety of European diseases that caused their eventual demise. The diseases moved much faster than the advancing Spanish. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Incan empire, a large portion of the population, including the emperor, had already died in a smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 epidemic. When Francisco Coronado and the Spanish first explored the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 Valley in 1540, in modern New Mexico, many of the chieftains complained of new diseases that affected their tribes. The Spanish curandero
Curandero
A curandero or curandeiro is a traditional folk healer or shaman in Latin America, who is dedicated to curing physical or spiritual illnesses. The role of a curandero or curandera can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer. Many curanderos use Catholic...

s
(folk healers) recognized the symptoms and attempted to relieve some of the ailments.

Recently developed tree-ring evidence shows that the illness which lead to decline of the population in Aztec Mexico was not only a result of European diseases, but also a result of a great drought which occurred in the 16th century, and which led up to and continued through to the arrival of the Spanish conquest. This has added to the body of epidemiologic evidence indicating that epidemics of cocoliztli were indigenous fevers transmitted by rodents and aggravated by the extreme drought. The epidemic of cocoliztli from 1545 to 1548 killed an estimated 5 to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population. The cocoliztli epidemic from 1576 to 1578 killed an estimated, additional 2 to 2.5 million people, or about 50% of the remaining native population.

Notable conquistadors

  • Hernán Cortés
    Hernán Cortés
    Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

     (Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    , 1518–1522, Baja California
    Baja California
    Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

    , 1532–1536)
  • Pedro de Alvarado
    Pedro de Alvarado
    Pedro de Alvarado y Contreras was a Spanish conquistador and governor of Guatemala. He participated in the conquest of Cuba, in Juan de Grijalva's exploration of the coasts of Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico, and in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernan Cortes...

     (Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    , 1519–1521, Guatemala
    Guatemala
    Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

    , El Salvador
    El Salvador
    El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

     1523–1527, Perú
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1533–1535, Mexico, 1540–1541)
  • Francisco Pizarro
    Francisco Pizarro
    Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

     (Perú
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1509–1535)
  • Pedro de Candia
    Pedro de Candia
    Pedro de Candia, Grandee of Spain, . Born on the island of Crete, * 1485. He was killed in battle at Chupas , on September 16th + 1542, Spanish Conquistador, Grandee of Spain, "Almirant of the Spanish Armada of the Southern Seas", author and travel writer, recorded the Spanish conquest of the...

     (Panama
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

    , 1527, Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

     and Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

    , 1528, Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1530)
  • Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (United States, 1540–1542)
  • Juan de Oñate
    Juan de Oñate
    Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar was a Spanish explorer, colonial governor of the New Spain province of New Mexico, and founder of various settlements in the present day Southwest of the United States.-Biography:...

     (New Mexico, United States, 1598–1608)
  • Juan Vásquez de Coronado y Anaya (Costa Rica
    Costa Rica
    Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

    )
  • Diego de Almagro
    Diego de Almagro
    Diego de Almagro, , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador and a companion and later rival of Francisco Pizarro. He participated in the Spanish conquest of Peru and is credited as the first European discoverer of Chile.Almagro lost his left eye battling with coastal...

     (Perú
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1524–1535, Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    , 1535–1537)
  • Vasco Núñez de Balboa
    Vasco Núñez de Balboa
    Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific from the New World.He traveled to the New World in...

     (Panamá
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

    , 1510–1519)
  • Juan Ponce de León
    Juan Ponce de León
    Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named...

     (Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

    , 1508, Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , 1513–1521)
  • Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
    Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
    Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, one of four survivors of the Narváez expedition...

     (United States, 1527–1536, 1540–1542)
  • Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón (United States, 1524–1527)
  • Sebastián de Belalcázar
    Sebastián de Belalcázar
    Sebastián de Belalcázar was a Spanish conquistador.-Early life:He was born Sebastián Moyano in the province of Córdoba, Spain, in either 1479 or 1480. He took the name Belalcázar as that was the name of the castle-town near to his birthplace in Córdoba...

     (Ecuador
    Ecuador
    Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

     and Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

    , 1533–1536)
  • Gonzalo Pizarro
    Gonzalo Pizarro
    Gonzalo Pizarro y Alonso was a Spanish conquistador and younger paternal half-brother of Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of the Inca Empire...

     (Perú
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1532–1542)
  • Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
    Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
    Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.-Early life:...

     (Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    , 1511–1519)
  • Diego de Ordaz
    Diego de Ordaz
    Diego de Ordaz , born in Castroverde de Campos, Zamora province, Spain, in 1480, died in Venezuela in 1532, was a Spanish explorer and soldier.-Early career:Diego de Ordaz arrived in Cuba at a young age...

     (Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

    , 1532)
  • Juan Pizarro (Perú
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1532–1536)
  • Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (Yucatán
    Yucatán
    Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

    ,1517)
  • Francisco Hernández de Córdoba
    Francisco Hernández de Córdoba (founder of Nicaragua)
    Francisco Hernández de Córdoba is usually reputed as the founder of Nicaragua, and in fact he founded two important Nicaraguan cities, Granada and León. The currency of Nicaragua is named the córdoba in his memory....

     (Nicaragua
    Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

    ,1524)
  • Hernando Pizarro
    Hernándo Pizarro
    Hernando Pizarro y de Vargas was a Spanish conquistador and one of the Pizarro brothers who ruled over Peru...

     (Perù
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

    , 1532–1560)
  • Diego Hernández de Serpa
    Diego Hernández de Serpa
    Diego Hernández de Serpa was a Spanish conquistador who, under the patronage of Philip II of Spain, helped conquer and colonize the Spanish colony of New Andalusia.- Biography :...

     (Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

    , 1510–1570)
  • Juan de Grijalva
    Juan de Grijalva
    Juan de Grijalva was a Spanish conquistador. Some authors said he was from the same family as Diego Velázquez.He went to Hispaniola in 1508 and to Cuba in 1511....

     (Yucatán
    Yucatán
    Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

    , 1518)
  • Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
    Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
    Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was a Spanish explorer and conquistador in Colombia. He explored the northern part of South America. While successful in many of his exploits, acquiring massive amounts of gold and emeralds, he ended his career disastrously; and has been suggested as a possible model...

     (Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

    , 1536–1537, Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

    , 1569–1572)
  • Francisco de Montejo
    Francisco de Montejo
    Francisco de Montejo y Alvarez was a Spanish conquistador in Mexico and Central America.Francisco de Montejo was born in Salamanca, Spain, in 1479 to Juan de Montejo and Catalina Alvarez de Tejeda. He left Spain in 1514, and arrived in Cuba in time to join Grijalva's expedition along the coast of...

     (Yucatán
    Yucatán
    Yucatán officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Yucatán is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 106 municipalities and its capital city is Mérida....

    , 1527–1546)
  • Nicolás Federmann
    Nikolaus Federmann
    Nikolaus Federmann was a German adventurer and conquistador in the colonies of Venezuela and Colombia. He worked in the service of the Welser brothers.- Life :...

     (Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

     and Colombia
    Colombia
    Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

    , 1537–1539).
  • Pánfilo de Narváez
    Pánfilo de Narváez
    Pánfilo de Narváez was a Spanish conqueror and soldier in the Americas. He is most remembered as the leader of two expeditions, one to Mexico in 1520 to oppose Hernán Cortés, and the disastrous Narváez expedition to Florida in 1527....

     (Spanish Florida
    Spanish Florida
    Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

    , 1527–1528)
  • Diego de Nicuesa
    Diego de Nicuesa
    Diego de Nicuesa was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. In 1506, he was given the job of governing Costa Rica, but ran aground off the coast of Panama. He made his way north overland, against resistance from the native population...

     (Panama
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

    , 1506–1511)
  • Cristóbal de Olid
    Cristóbal de Olid
    Cristóbal de Olid was a Spanish adventurer, conquistador and rebel who played a part in the conquest of Mexico and Honduras.Born in Zaragoza, Olid grew up in the household of the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar. In 1518 Velázquez sent Olid to relieve Juan de Grijalva, but en route a...

     (Honduras
    Honduras
    Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

    , 1523–1524)
  • Francisco de Orellana
    Francisco de Orellana
    Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish explorer and conquistador. He completed the first known navigation of the length of the Amazon River, which was originally named for him...

     (Amazon River
    Amazon River
    The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

    , 1541–1543)
  • Hernando de Soto (United States, 1539–1542)
  • Inés Suárez
    Inés Suárez
    Inés de Suárez, also called Inés Suárez, was a Spanish conquistadora and mistress to Pedro de Valdivia who participated in the Conquest of Chile, successfully defending Santiago against a Mapuche attack in 1541...

    , (Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    , 1541)
  • Martín de Ursúa
    Martín de Ursua
    Martin de Ursua was a Spanish Basque conquistador from Baztan, Navarre during the early colonial period of New Spain in Central America. He is noted for leading the 1696–97 expeditionary force which resulted in the fall of the last significant independent Maya stronghold, Tayasal, located on an...

    , (Petén
    Petén
    Petén or Peten may refer to:*Petén , a department of Guatemala*Petén Basin, the geographical / archaeological region of Mesoamerica and a center of the Maya civilization*Lake Petén Itzá, a lake in the Petén Basin region...

    , Guatemala
    Guatemala
    Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

    , 1696–1697)
  • Pedro de Valdivia
    Pedro de Valdivia
    Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia or Valdiva was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, where he served as lieutenant under Francisco Pizarro in Peru, acting as his second in command...

     (Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    , 1540–1552)
  • Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
    Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
    Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was a Spanish admiral and explorer, best remembered for founding St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish foothold in La Florida and remained the most significant city in the region for several hundred years. St...

     (Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , 1565–1567)
  • Alonso de Ribera
    Alonso de Ribera
    Alonso de Ribera de Pareja was a Spanish soldier and twice Spanish royal governor of Chile .-Early life:...

     (Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

     1599–1617)
  • Alonso de Sotomayor
    Alonso de Sotomayor
    Alonso de Sotomayor y Valmediano was a Spanish conquistador from Extremadura, and a Royal Governor of Chile.-Early life:He was born in Trujillo, in the province of Extremadura, the son of Gutiérrez de Sotomayor e Hinojosa and Beatriz de Valmediano...

     (Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

     1583–1592, Panamá
    Panama
    Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

     1592–1604)
  • Martín Ruiz de Gamboa
    Martín Ruiz de Gamboa
    Martín Ruiz de Gamboa de Berriz was a Spanish Basque conquistador, and served as a Royal Governor of Chile.-Early years:He was born in Durango, Biscay, the son of Andrés Ruiz de Gamboa and Nafarra de Berriz, and served as a youth in the royal navy in the Levant...

     (Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

     1552–1590)
  • Juan Garrido
    Juan Garrido
    Juan Garrido was a black conquistador. He crossed the Atlantic as a freedman in the 1510s and participated in the siege of Tenochtitlan. He was African by birth and while living in Spain chose a Spanish name, Juan Garrido Slavery and Beyond: The African Impact on Latin America and the Caribbean By...

     (Multiple campaigns 1502–1530, Hispaniola
    Hispaniola
    Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

    , Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

    , Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    , Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    , Mexico
    Mexico
    The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

    )
  • Miguel López de Legazpi
    Miguel López de Legazpi
    Miguel López de Legazpi , also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo , was a Spanish conquistador who established one of the first European settlements in the East Indies and the Pacific Islands in 1565. He is the first Governor-General in the Philippines...

     (Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , 1565–1572)
  • Juan de Salcedo
    Juan de Salcedo
    Juan de Salcedo was a Spanish conquistador. He was born in Mexico in 1549 and he was the grandson of Miguel López de Legazpi and brother of Felipe de Salcedo. Salcedo was one of the soldiers who accompanied the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in 1565...

     (Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , 1565–1576)

Further reading

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