Who were they?
• Conquistador is a term that means “conqueror” in in Spanish
and Portuguese, but is widely associated with the Spanish
soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the
Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th through the
19th centuries following Europe's discovery of the New World
by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
The Conquests
• The stated purposes of these conquests were to
equally spread the word of God and to bring this
new civilization in the most obscure parts of the
world into the Spanish Crown as dutiful vassals.
• However, Spanish Conquest of Americas were a
series of unfortunate and morally questionable
acts driven by greed for gold and resulted in the
destruction of several native civilizations.
Famous Conquistadors
• Hernan Cortez – Famous for leading
an expedition into Mexico and
defeating the Aztec Empire at
• Francisco Pizarro – Famous for
leading an expedition into South
America and defeating the Incan
Hernan Cortez
The Aztecs
• The Aztecs were the largest group of people living in Mexico
at the time of Spanish arrival.
• Like the Olmecs and the Mayans before them, Aztec culture
had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions,
developed social structure, as well as reaching remarkable
architectural and artistic accomplishments.
• The Aztecs were, by far, the largest group in Mexico
by the year 1500.
• The population was around 30 million and they were
immensely wealthy from conquering neighboring
• At the heart of the empire was the grand city of
Tenochtitlan. This capital city was estimated to have
over 200-300,000 inhabitants.
• According to records, that would make it one of the
largest cities in the world at the time. Compared to
Europe, only Paris, Venice and Constantinople would
have been larger.
The Aztecs – Did You Know?
• Aztecs did not refer to themselves as Aztecs, but
as the Mexica.
• Aztecs believed that the gods sacrificed
themselves so that humans could live. The Aztecs
would in turn would make human sacrifices as
repayment to the Gods. Many times they would
eat the flesh and drink the blood of the sacrificed.
Sound familiar?
• Aztecs had a complex calendar based on
astrology, similar to the Mayans and Olmecs.
• Tenochtitlan had a zoo, botanical gardens and
even 12 saltwater ponds or “aquariums”.
• The movie Apocalypto is
set in Mexico, during the
period of the Aztec and
Maya civilizations. It
depicts the journey of a
young tribesman who’s
village was brutally
attacked by Atzecs looking
for slaves and humans to
sacrifice to their gods. He
must escape capture and
rescue his family in this
intense, historical thriller.
Cortez and the Spanish Arrive
• When Cortez arrived at
Tenochtitlan he was amazed by
what he saw.
• The city was far grander than
many he had ever seen.
• Cortez and the Spaniards were
received by Montezuma, the
Aztec emperor.
• Montezuma was reluctant to
invite the Spaniards in, though
many Aztecs believed they were
descendants of the gods.
Did you know?
• Some legends refer to the God
Quetzalcoatl as a stranger
from a distant land who
sailed to their shores upon a
“magic raft of serpents.”
• Other gods such as Itzamna
and Kukulcan, were both
portrayed as bearded men who
led their ancestors into Mexico.
• Such similarities to the Spanish
arriving on large boats and
sporting beards and strange
armor may have led the Aztecs
to welcoming them as Gods.
The carving above and
The statue to the left depict
Men with beards, similar to
how Hernan Cortez and the
Spanish would have worn them.
The Siege of Tenochtitlan
• Equally wary of the natives, Cortez took Montezuma captive.
• Along with an army of natives that he had made treaties with, Cortez
and his men laid siege to the city.
• Many Aztecs were massacred during an annual festival.
• Cortez and his men were able to escape the city with vast amounts of
• The Spaniards then cut off the outskirts of the city so that no one
could get in or out.
• Without food, water and supplies, the Aztecs started to starve as
famine and small pox epidemics broke out which killed most of the
Tenochtitlan inhabitants.
• Even as many Aztecs surrendered, they were slaughtered by the
• Through battles, famine, disease and slaughter, it is estimated that
over 200,000 Aztecs died during the siege that lasted 80 days.
The Siege of Tenochtitlan
• Following the siege, Cortez and the Spaniards and their
native allies looted the city, slaughtered any remaining
• Cortez directed the destruction and leveling of most of
the city which was then re-built for Spanish use. Today,
Mexico City is built on top of the ruins of Tenochtitlan.
• It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the construction of the
metro line in Mexico City that the ruins of the Temple
Mayor was uncovered. A small excavated portion is
available to the public.
Temple Mayor
Inca and Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
• Early South American
explorers would bring back
tales told by the natives of a
gold rich territory called Piru.
• This immediately got
Pizarro’s attention and he
put together an expedition.
Conquest of Peru
• While in Peru, Pizarro
encountered a group
of natives known as
the Incas.
The Incas
• The Incas were the largest group of natives in the New World.
• It is estimated that their total population was upwards of 40
million prior to Spanish arrival.
• The Incas were known for building a complex network of roads
and fortresses. They are sometimes referred to as the
“Romans of the New World.”
• The Incans were also very wealthy with gold. Since their was
no iron or other metals, so Incans often made everyday
household items out of the precious metal.
The Incan Empire
Machu Picchu
Did You Know?
• Despite all their
complexities, the
Incas actually did not
have an official
system of writing.
• In fact, they used a
system of knotted
string or rope called
quipu to help keep
records and calculate
Human Sacrifice and Mummification
• Like the Aztecs, Incas would
also practice human sacrifice.
They would take their
children (who were pure) out
into the mountains and leave
them for their gods. Children
would die from exposure to
the elements.
• The Incas were also well
known for their mummies that
have been found. Many of
them are the sacrificed
children who had frozen to
death and became a “natural”
Conquest of Peru
• When encountering the Incas,
Pizarro tried to negotiate with the
Incan emperor Atahualpa.
• When Atahualpa refused the
Spanish, Pizarro attacked and
captured the Incan emperor.
• The Spanish held Atahualpa for
ransom, demanding the Incans to
fill an entire room of gold and
• When the Incans complied, the
Spanish killed Atahualpa anyway.
Conquest of Peru
• Pizarro and the Spaniards took
their gold and then continued on
their conquest.
• The Spanish finally defeated the
Incas at their capital city of
Cuzco and within a year, he had
conquered all the Incas and
• Pizarro wanted to establish a
capital city of the recently
conquered territory but the
Incan capital was too far inland.
• Pizarro then established the city
of Lima on the coast.

Pizzaro, and Independnce of South America ppt