conquistador

/kon kwis"teuh dawr', kong-/; Sp. /kawng kees'tah dhawrdd"/, n., pl. conquistadors, Sp. conquistadores /-dhaw"rddes/.
one of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru in the 16th century.
[1540-50; < Sp. equiv. to conquist(ar) to conquer (see CONQUEST) + -ador -ATOR]

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Any of a small group of adventurers who took part in the Spanish conquest of South and Central America in the 16th century.

Under Hernán Cortés a force of some 500 men with 16 horses conquered Mexico's Aztec empire. A force under Pedro de Alvarado subsequently subdued Guatemala. Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca in Peru with 180 men and 37 horses; his companion Diego de Almagro led an expedition to Chile. Further expeditions extended Spanish rule over much of South America. Though renowned for their bravery, the conquistadores remain notorious for their avarice and the destruction they wrought on native populations and civilizations. They were soon replaced by administrators and settlers from Spain.

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▪ Spanish history
(Spanish: “conqueror”),plural  Conquistadores, or Conquistadors,  

      any one of the leaders in the Spanish conquest of America, especially of Mexico and Peru, in the 16th century.

      An expedition against Aztec Mexico was led by Hernán Cortés (Cortés, Hernán, marqués del Valle de Oaxaca), who set up a base camp at Veracruz in 1519 to prepare for an advance inland. Cortés marched inland with about 400 men and secured an alliance with the independent city of Tlaxcala, with whose aid he conquered the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City). Between 1522 and 1524, Michoacán and the Pacific coastal regions were conquered, and in 1524, expeditions led by Pedro de Alvarado (Alvarado, Pedro de) and Cristóbal de Olid, respectively, were sent to Mayan Guatemala and the Bay of Honduras.

      The conquest of Inca Peru was led by Francisco Pizarro (Pizarro, Francisco) and Diego de Almagro (Almagro, Diego de), adventurers from Spain who had originally settled in Panama. Pizarro departed for Peru in 1531 with 180 men and 37 horses. Taking advantage of a civil war among the natives, Pizarro captured the reigning Inca ruler, Atahualpa (Atahuallpa), and, when Almagro arrived from Panama, conquered the capital city of Cuzco in November 1533. Pizarro founded a new capital, Lima, in 1535. Meanwhile, Alvarado arrived from Guatemala with intent to capture Quito, but he was persuaded to sell his army and ships to Almagro and Pizarro. Later a quarrel between Almagro and Pizarro erupted in 1538 into a civil war, which Pizarro won. Pizarro himself was murdered in 1541.

      Spanish dominion was extended by a number of expeditions from Peru, including one by Sebastián de Belalcázar (Benalcázar, Sebastián de) to the present Colombia, whose rule he had to share with Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada (Jiménez de Quesada, Gonzalo), who had marched inland from the Caribbean coast. Pedro de Valdivia (Valdivia, Pedro de) explored Chile, founding the city of Santiago in 1541. The conquistadores, given more to fighting and the search for gold than to governance, were quickly replaced by administrators and settlers from Spain.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • conquistador — ► NOUN (pl. conquistadores or conquistadors) ▪ a Spanish conqueror of Mexico or Peru in the 16th century. ORIGIN Spanish …   English terms dictionary

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