Discuss what caused the misconception of the Conquistadors and how did the Conquistadors cont

“Conquistadors were overwhelmingly middle-ranking men, from occupations and backgrounds below the high nobility but above the commoner masses (as was true of Cortes and Pizarro).  Documents show that the conquerors of the New Kingdom of Granada…were mostly skilled men of some means or property.  Likewise, those Spaniards at Cajamarca in 1533 who recorded their occupations were not career soldiers but professionals and artisans who had acquired various battle experience and martial skills.  A third of those who stated their occupations were artisans – including tailors, farriers (horseshoers), carpenters, trumpeters, a copper, a sword smith, a stonemason, a barber, and a piper or crier… In terms of education, the range was broad from men who were completely illiterate and uneducated to the occasional man of considerable learning.” (Restall, 2011, p. 99).

Discuss what caused the misconception of who Conquistadors were, and how did the Conquistadors contributed to this myt

  1. Given that the modern image of conquistadors is that, they were dreadnought warriors who mercilessly subject the Native Americans.  This idea of conquistadors being unstoppable, pillaging, and looting soldiers of Spain is still seen in our culture today in movies like Disney’s “El Dorado”.  However, consider the following:



  1. Francisco de Montejo with his son, nephew and Spanish partners set out to invade the Yucatan Peninsula. The first attempt in 1527 failed, and many of the Spaniards died of disease and battle wounds received from local Mayas. Francisco de Montejo and his invaders, were forced to retreat and they returned to the highlands of Mexico in 1529. The second attempt occurred in the same year of 1529. At first the invasion seemed to be successful with an established base at Campeche. But, premature allotment of the Mayas to Spaniards indicative of the Spaniards to rush in their myth of Maya pacification, served only to exacerbate tension between Spaniards and Mayas. By 1534 the conquest was in disarray. Most of remaining Spaniard left the Peninsula for South America. In the third invasion of 1540, the Spaniards were able to establish permanent bases of Campeche in 1541 and Merida in 1542.

Why was it so easy for the Spaniards to establish permanent bases in Campeche and Merida on their third try?

  1. Las Casa had first arrived in the America’s in 1502, when he was twenty-eight. He was a Spaniard accompanying the new governor of Hispaniola. His father a merchant from Seville, had come to the island with Columbus the previous decade. At first Las Casa had helped his father in the business of supplying conquistadors who had begun invading other Caribbean islands. But he was more interested in learning Taino (Page 61). Las Casa, the most vocal Spanish defender of indigenous people of the era of contact and conquest, was estimated that Hispaniola was home to 1 million and 4 million Tainos when Christopher Columbus first reached the island in 1492. The Taino population had dropped significantly from 90 percent in  Las Casa’s lifetime. But those had doubted the Friar’s reasoning of the decline of the population. During this time there was some serious conquest violence, displacement, enslavement overwork, and other brutal situations that had played a role in the decline of the Caribbean’s native populations.

What were the reasons for the decline of the population during this time?

  1. Just ten years after the Aztec emperor Itzcoatl and his chief minister Tlacaelel rewrote the Mexica past as a foundation for Aztec imperialism, another emperor, thousands of miles to the south, achieved something similar. In 1438, a secondary Inca prince named CusiYupanqui repelled an attempt by his his neighbors, the Chancas , to seize control of the Inca capitol of Cuzco and surrounding territory. Exultant, Yupanqui forced his father to retire and took the Inca crown, with its distinctive fringe, from the designated heir. The first true Inca emperor, Yupanqui renamed himself Pachacuti, which means “earthquake” or “world-changer”.

The new emperor quickly established a mythological history that seemed to predict his arrival and also justified his aggressive vision for the future. Pachacuti reorganized the Inca system of rule from one centered on stability and reproduction to one that sought to encompass as much territory and as many subjects as possible. The justifications for Inca expansion was ethnocentric but not unusual: Pachacuti claimed he wanted to “civilize” all Andean peoples after the Inca fashion. The fact that he began to do so at about the same time the Aztec Empire took off in Mexico was coincidental. There is no evidence of contact between the two, and in fact it appears neither knew of the other’s existence. This helps explain why there are more differences between them then similarities.” (pg 74)

Discuss some of the differences between the Inca and Aztec societies. 

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