Conquistador (16th century)

Conquistador (16th century)

Spanish conquerors owed their success to their armor and firearms.



conquistador, explorer, Cortés, New Spain, colony, Balboa, Pizarro, Spanish, conqueror, geographic discoveries, hidalgo, South America, Central America, expedition, 16th century, Portuguese, 17th century, indigenous people, modern history, feudal, history

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  • What does the word 'conquistador' mean?
  • Which nation made the word 'conquistador' well-known?
  • Which was not characteristic of the conquistadors?
  • Who was NOT one of the conquistadors?
  • Members of which social group became conquistadors in large numbers?
  • Why did the conquistadors travel to the New World?
  • Which empire was conquered by Francisco Pizarro?
  • Which empire was conquered by Hernan Cortes?
  • What did the conquistadors owe their military dominance to?
  • When was the Aztec Empire conquered by the Spanish?
  • When was the Inca Empire conquered by the Spanish?
  • What was the status of the territories conquered by the Conquistadors?
  • Which area was the furthest from Spain?
  • Which river could the Spanish Conquistadors see?
  • Which river could 16th-century Spanish Conquistadors NOT see?
  • Is it true that 90% of the indigenous population of the Americas perished in the 16th century?
  • What was the main cause of so many deaths among the indigenous population of the Americas in the 16th century?
  • Which factor did not contribute to the success of the Conquistadors?
  • Who did the natives think the Conquistadors, arriving on horseback, were?
  • What was NOT one of the weapons used by Conquistadors?
  • What material was most of the weapons of the Conquistadors made of?
  • Who drew the line dividing the Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence?
  • Is it true that Central and South American natives were unfamiliar with horses?
  • Where did Spanish Conquistadors NOT occupy territories in the 16th century?



Spanish and Portuguese conquerors who participated in the colonisation of the American continent in the 16th and 17th centuries are called conquistadors.

Many of the conquistadors were poor nobles who were led to the New World by their quest for gold. Most of them were determined and ruthless, and were not afraid of bloodshed and vile methods. They killed not only the natives but often their own rivals. This is confirmed by the narratives of contemporary historians, such as Bartolomé de las Casas.

Hernán Cortés was a typical Spanish conquistador, born to a poor noble family in 1485. His father was an infantry captain, and through his mother, he was a relative of Francisco Pizarro, who later conquered the Inca Empire. His parents sent him to prepare for a career in law, but he did not like to study and dropped out of school. Even at a young age, he was described as arrogant and malevolent. He had his mind set on travelling to the New World, which he managed to do in 1504 when he shipped to the Caribbean island of Hispanola.

From that point on, his career rose sharply. He led the infamous expedition that destroyed the Aztec Empire between 1518 and 1520. His career and power reached its peak when King Charles V. appointed him governor of New Spain. Later, however, as it happened often in that era, he fell out of favour with the king and lost his power and wealth. He died in Seville in 1547.


  • helmet
  • armor
  • rapier
  • musket
  • spear

The Viceroyalty of New Spain

  • Tenochtitlan
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Caribbean Sea
  • Route of Cortes

In the late 15th century, Spain entered into competition with Portugal regarding the discoveries of new territories. The two countries used different methods to enforce their commercial interests: while the Portuguese applied relatively pacific measures, the Spanish resorted to violence. The bloody wars led to the establishment of the Viceroyalty of New Spain on the American continent, which became an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire. Later, the empire colonised regions on other continents too.

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