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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Conquistador

A Conquistador (English: Conqueror) was a Spanish soldier, explorer and adventurer. The Conquistadors invaded and conquered much of the Americas and the Philippines Islands and other islands in Asia Pacific.

The first immensely successful conquistador was Hernán Cortés. Between 1520 and 1521, Cortés, along with native enemies of the Aztecs, conquered the mighty Aztec Empire.

 In the main square of Cajamarca in North Peru, the Inca leader Atahualpa stepped forward to meet the Spanish conquistadors. A priest carrying a Bible urged him to convert to the Christian God. To hear the word of the European’s god, the Inca put his ear to the Bible. “This book does not talk” he said and threw it to the ground. The Spanish responded by capturing Atahualpa and massacring many other Incas.

Spanish invaders in South America found all kinds of new things to eat, including tomatoes, peanuts and potatoes. Spanish forces discovered the latter when entering a Colombian village from which the inhabitants had fled they discovered what they thought were truffles. They turned out to be potatoes.

The 16th century Spanish Dominican missionary Bartolomé de las Casas campaigned on behalf of the Indians enslaved by the Spanish colonisation of America. De las Casas wrote a book, A Very Short Account of the Destruction of the West Indies, in which he recounted numerous incidents of torture and genocide he'd witnessed in the New World. For instance he told how native pearl fishers were thrown into the water with stones tied around their necks so they'd sink to the very bottom where the biggest pearls were. The slaves were pushed to the limits of their endurance and in due course their lungs burst.

De las Casas was concerned that the dreadful conduct of the Spanish towards the Indians would eventually lead to the collapse of Spain itself in an act of Divine punishment.  The campaign by Las Casas brought the horrors of Spanish colonization to the attention of the European public and he persuaded Charles V to pass laws guaranteeing liberty to the Indians. However it was a different matter trying to enforce the laws and tragically most conquistadors ignored the edicts.

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