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As a conquistador , however, he soon became infamous for his violence, cruelty, and sedition. The land was parceled out to the conquistadores. The main ingredient for them, gunpowder, came with the conquistadors but for military purposes.
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Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Pedrarias expanded the colony but was responsible for enslaving and murdering the Indian population, despite royal orders for more humane treatment.
Eyewitness accounts of Aztec culture on the eve of the conquest are, of course, the most directly pertinent sources because they describe Aztec culture before it became transformed by the Spanish conquest.
History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! Email address. Recently developed tree-ring evidence shows that the illness which reduced the population in Aztec Mexico was aided by a great drought in the 16th century, and which continued through the arrival of the Spanish conquest.
The cocoliztli epidemic from to killed an estimated, additional 2 to 2. The American researcher H. The conquistadors found new animal species, but reports confused these with monsters such as giants, dragons, or ghosts.
An early motive for exploration was the search for Cipango, the place where gold was born. Cathay and Cibao were later goals. Books such as The Travels of Marco Polo fuelled rumours of mythical places.
In , Francisco de Orellana reached the Amazon River , naming it after a tribe of warlike women he claimed to have fought there. Others claimed that the similarity between Indio and Iudio , the Spanish-language word for 'Jew' around , revealed the indigenous peoples' origin.
Sir Walter Raleigh and some Italian, Spanish, Dutch, French and Portuguese expeditions were looking for the wonderful Guiana empire that gave its name to the present day countries of the Guianas.
Several expeditions went in search of these fabulous places, but returned empty-handed, or brought less gold than they had hoped.
They discovered new routes, ocean currents , trade winds , crops, spices and other products. In the sail era knowledge of winds and currents was essential, for example, the Agulhas current long prevented Portuguese sailors from reaching India.
Various places in Africa and the Americas have been named after the imagined cities made of gold, rivers of gold and precious stones.
Marching westward in to find the land of the "White King", he was the first European to cross South America from the East.
He discovered a great waterfall [ clarification needed ] and the Chaco Plain. He managed to penetrate the outer defences of the Inca Empire on the hills of the Andes , in present-day Bolivia , the first European to do so, eight years before Francisco Pizarro.
Garcia looted a booty of silver. The Spanish discovery of what they thought at that time was India, and the constant competition of Portugal and Spain led to a desire for secrecy about every trade route and every colony.
As a consequence, many documents that could reach other European countries included fake dates and faked facts, to mislead any other nation's possible efforts.
For example, the Island of California refers to a famous cartographic error propagated on many maps during the 17th and 18th centuries, despite contradictory evidence from various explorers.
The legend was initially infused with the idea that California was a terrestrial paradise, peopled by black women Amazons.
The tendency to secrecy and falsification of dates casts doubts about the authenticity of many primary sources. Several historians have hypothesized that John II may have known of the existence of Brazil and North America as early as , thus explaining his wish in at the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas , to push the line of influence further west.
Many historians suspect that the real documents would have been placed in the Library of Lisbon. Ferdinand II King of Aragon and Regent of Castile, incorporated the American territories into the Kingdom of Castile and then withdrew the authority granted to governor Christopher Columbus and the first conquistadors.
He established direct royal control with the Council of the Indies , the most important administrative organ of the Spanish Empire , both in the Americas and in Asia.
After unifying Castile, Ferdinand introduced to Castile many laws, regulations and institutions such as the Inquisition , that were typical in Aragon.
These laws were later used in the new lands. The Laws of Burgos , created in —, were the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of settlers in Spanish colonial America, particularly with regards to Native Americans.
They forbade the maltreatment of indigenous people, and endorsed their conversion to Catholicism. Emperor Charles V was already using the term " Council of the Indies " in The Crown reserved for itself important tools of intervention.
The "capitulacion" clearly stated that the conquered territories belonged to the Crown, not to the individual. On the other hand, concessions allowed the Crown to guide the Companies conquests to certain territories, depending on their interests.
In addition, the leader of the expedition received clear instructions about their duties towards the army, the native population, the type of military action.
A written report about the results was mandatory. The army had a royal official, the "veedor". The "veedor" or notary, ensured they complied with orders and instructions and preserved the King's share of the booty.
Armed groups sought supplies and funds in various ways. Financing was requested from the King, delegates of the Crown, the nobility, rich merchants or the troops themselves.
The more professional campaigns were funded by the Crown. Campaigns were sometimes initiated by inexperienced governors, because in Spanish Colonial America , offices were bought or handed to relatives or cronies.
Sometimes, an expedition of conquistadors were a group of influential men who had recruited and equipped their fighters, by promising a share of the booty.
Aside from the explorations predominated by Spain and Portugal, other parts of Europe also aided in colonization of the New World. King Charles I was documented to receive loans from German bank Welser to help finance the Venezuela expedition for gold.
The conquistador borrowed as little as possible, preferring to invest all their belongings. Sometimes, every soldier brought his own equipment and supplies, other times the soldiers received gear as an advance from the conquistador.
Sponsors included governments, the king, viceroys, and local governors backed by rich men. The contribution of each individual conditioned the subsequent division of the booty, receiving a portion the pawn lancero, piquero, alabardero, rodelero and twice a man on horseback caballero owner of a horse.
Even the dogs, important weapons of war in their own right, were in some cases rewarded. The division of the booty produced conflicts, such as the one between Pizarro and Almagro.
Conquistadors had overwhelming military advantages over the native peoples. They belonged to a more militarily advanced civilization with better techniques, tools, a few number of crude fire arms, artillery, iron, steel and domesticated animals.
Horses and mules carried them, pigs fed them and dogs fought for them. The indigenous peoples had the advantage of established settlements, determination to remain independent and large numerical superiority.
European diseases and divide and conquer tactics contributed to the defeat of the native populations. In the Iberian peninsula, in a situation of constant conflict, warfare and daily life were strongly interlinked.
Small, lightly equipped armies were maintained at all times. The state of war continued intermittently for centuries and created a very warlike culture in Iberia.
Another factor was the ability of the conquistadors to manipulate the political situation between indigenous peoples. To beat the Inca civilization, they supported one side of a civil war.
They overthrew the Aztec civilization by allying with natives who had been subjugated by more powerful neighbouring tribes and kingdoms.
These tactics had been used since antiquity, for example, in the Granada War , the conquest of the Canary Islands and conquest of Navarre. The Europeans practiced war within the terms and laws of their concept of a just war.
While Spanish soldiers went to the battlefield to kill their enemies, the Aztecs and Mayas captured their enemies for use as sacrificial victims to their gods—a process called " flower war " by Spanish historians.
In traditional cultures of the Stone Age , Bronze Age , and hunter-gatherer societies the warfare was mostly 'endemic', long duration, low intensity, usually evolving into almost a ritualized form.
By contrast, Europe had moved to 'sporadic' warfare in the Middle Ages due to the availability of professionally mercenary armies. Aztec and other native peoples practiced an endemic system of warfare as well, and so were easily defeated by Spanish and Portuguese sporadic-warfare armies in the early s.
These forces were capable of quickly moving long distances, allowing a quick return home after battle. Wars were mainly between clans, expelling intruders.
On land, these wars combined some European methods with techniques from Muslim bandits in Al-Andalus.
These tactics consisted of small groups who attempted to catch their opponents by surprise, through an ambush. In Mombasa , Dom Vasco da Gama resorted to piracy , looting Arab merchant ships, which were generally unarmed trading vessels without heavy cannons.
Spanish conquistadors in the Americas made extensive use of short swords and crossbows , with arquebus becoming widespread only from the s.
Animals were another important factor for Spanish triumph. On the one hand, the introduction of the horse and other domesticated pack animals allowed them greater mobility unknown to the Indian cultures.
However, in the mountains and jungles, the Spaniards were less able to use narrow Amerindian roads and bridges made for pedestrian traffic, which were sometimes no wider than a few feet.
In places such as Argentina , New Mexico and California , the indigenous people learned horsemanship, cattle raising, and sheep herding.
The use of the new techniques by indigenous groups later became a disputed factor in native resistance to the colonial and American governments.
The Spaniards were also skilled at breeding dogs for war, hunting and protection. The Molossers , Spanish war dogs  and sheep dogs they used in battle were effective as a psychological weapon against the natives, who, in many cases, had never seen domesticated dogs.
These specially trained dogs were feared because of their strength and ferocity. The strongest big breeds of broad-mouthed dogs were specifically trained for battle.
These war dogs were used against barely clothed troops. They were armoured dogs trained to kill and disembowel. The successive expeditions and experience of the Portuguese pilots led to a rapid evolution of Portuguese nautical science.
In the thirteenth century they were guided by the sun position. For celestial navigation like other Europeans, they used Greek tools, like the astrolabe and quadrant , which they made easier and simpler.
They also created the cross-staff , or cane of Jacob , for measuring at sea the height of the sun and other stars. The results varied throughout the year, which required corrections.
To address this the Portuguese used the astronomical tables Ephemeris , a precious tool for oceanic navigation, which spread widely in the fifteenth century.
These tables revolutionized navigation, enabling latitude calculations. The tables of the Almanach Perpetuum , by astronomer Abraham Zacuto , published in Leiria in , were used along with its improved astrolabe, by Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral.
The ship that truly launched the first phase of the discoveries along the African coast was the Portuguese caravel.
Iberians quickly adopted it for their merchant navy. It was a development based on African fishing boats. They were agile and easier to navigate, with a tonnage of 50 to tons and one to three masts, with lateen triangular sails allowing luffing.
The caravel particularly benefited from a greater capacity to tack. The limited capacity for cargo and crew were their main drawbacks, but have not hindered its success.
Limited crew and cargo space was acceptable, initially, because as exploratory ships, their "cargo" was what was in the explorer's discoveries about a new territory, which only took up the space of one person.
Columbus also used them in his travels. Long oceanic voyages led to larger ships. Due to the piracy that plagued the coasts, they began to be used in the navy and were provided with cannon windows, which led to the classification of "naus" according to the power of its artillery.
The carrack or nau was a three- or four- masted ship. It had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle , forecastle and bowsprit at the stem.
It was first used by the Portuguese, and later by the Spanish. They were also adapted to the increasing maritime trade. They grew from tons capacity in the 15th century to In the 16th century they usually had two decks , stern castles fore and aft, two to four masts with overlapping sails.
In India travels in the sixteenth century used carracks, large merchant ships with a high edge and three masts with square sails, that reached 2, tons.
Besides coastal exploration, Portuguese ships also made trips further out to gather meteorological and oceanographic information.
The knowledge of wind patterns and currents , the trade winds and the oceanic gyres in the Atlantic, and the determination of latitude led to the discovery of the best ocean route back from Africa: crossing the Central Atlantic to the Azores, using the winds and currents that spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere because of atmospheric circulation and the effect of Coriolis , facilitating the way to Lisbon and thus enabling the Portuguese to venture farther from shore, a manoeuvre that became known as the "volta do mar" return of the sea.
In , the application of this principle in the Pacific Ocean led the Spanish discovering the Manila Galleon trade route.
In Angelino Dulcert of Majorca produced the portolan chart map. Evidently drawing from the information provided in by Lanceloto Malocello sponsored by King Dinis of Portugal.
It showed Lanzarote island, named Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus and marked by a Genoese shield, as well as the island of Forte Vetura Fuerteventura and Vegi Mari Lobos , although Dulcert also included some imaginary islands himself, notably Saint Brendan's Island , and three islands he names Primaria , Capraria and Canaria.
Mestre Jacome was a Majorcan cartographer induced by Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator to move to Portugal in the s to train Portuguese map-makers in Majorcan-style cartography.
Majorca had many skilled Jewish cartographers. Reinel was also author of the first nautical chart known with an indication of latitudes in and the first representation of a wind rose.
They were considered the best cartographers of their time. Emperor Charles V wanted them to work for him. In King Manuel I of Portugal handed Lopo Homem a charter giving him the privilege to certify and amend all compass needles in vessels.
The third phase of nautical cartography was characterized by the abandonment of Ptolemy 's representation of the East and more accuracy in the representation of lands and continents.
Many of his charts are large scale. We're gonna stop you right there Literally How to use a word that literally drives some pe Is Singular 'They' a Better Choice?
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Save Word. Definition of conquistador. First Known Use of conquistador , in the meaning defined above.