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Latin American History: Discovery and Conquest (1492-1572)

The age of discovery and conquest is one of the most fascinating periods in all of the history of Latin America. The discovery and subsequent conquest of the Americas was the single most important cultural encounter in history, a sequence of events that rocked the Old World as well as the New.
  1. The Conquest (51)
  2. The Search for El Dorado (9)
  3. The Voyages of Columbus (8)

Latin America - Explorers and Discoverers
After Christopher Columbus blazed a trail to the New World in 1492, many others soon followed. The Americas were a fascinating, new place and the crowned heads of Europe eagerly sent explorers to look for new goods and trade routes. These intrepid explorers made many significant discoveries in the years and decades after Columbus' monumental...

1499: The Alonso de Hojeda Expedition to the New World
Christopher Columbus shook up the world in 1492 with his discovery of previously unknown land and people to the west of Europe. He was soon followed by other intrepid explorers looking for gold, pearls, trade routes and slaves. One such explorer was Alonso de Hojeda, who was accompanied on his legendary 1499 expedition by Amerigo Vespucci, who would later lend his name to the new continents.

Amerigo Vespucci, Explorer and Navigator
Amerigo Vespucci was one of the most important explorers during the age of discovery. An able mariner, he made two trips to the New World and explored the coast of Brazil. It was his descriptions of the lands he found that caused a French cartographer to name them "America" in his honor.

La Navidad: First European Settlement in the Americas
On Columbus' first voyage, he was forced to leave behind 39 men at a settlement he named "La Navidad." One year later, he returned to find it burned to the ground, and all of the men massacred.

Antonio de Montesinos
On December 4, 1511, Dominican friar Antonio de Montesinos delivered a scathing sermon to the Spanish colonists on Hispaniola, criticizing them for enslaving the natives of the Caribbean. He was practically run out of town, but continued his work on behalf of better conditions for the natives until his death in 1545.

Biography of Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese navigator and captain who led the first expedition that successfully circled the globe.

The First New World Voyage of Christopher Columbus (1492)
Christopher Columbus may have been looking for a new trade route to Asia when he set out in 1492, but he discovered something far more important. Columbus made several stops on his monumental first voyage, including the present-day Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola.

Where are the Remains of Christopher Columbus?
The city of Seville, Spain, has a set of bones they claim belong to Christopher Columbus, the great navigator and explorer. The city of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, says the same thing. Which city has the real bones and why may we never know for sure?

Biography of Juan Ponce de Leon
Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who was the first to discover and explore Florida. He was also an important early pioneer of Puerto Rico. According to legend, he was seeking the legendary Fountain of Youth in Florida.

The Florida Expeditions of Ponce de León
In 1513 and again in 1521, Juan Ponce de Leon visited present-day Florida. According to legend, he was seeking the Fountain of Youth.

Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth
The name Ponce de Leon has always been associated with Florida and the quest for the Fountain of Youth. Was he questing after myths or looking for a new home?

Biography of Francisco de Orellana
Francisco de Orellana was a Spanish conquistador who joined the ill-fated expedition into the interior of South America led by Gonzalo Pizarro in 1541. After Pizarro and Orellana became separated, Orellana continued downstream, eventually discovering the Amazon River and making his way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Francisco de Orellana’s Amazon River Expedition
In 1542.Francisco de Orellana and about 50 Spaniards became the first men to explore the Amazon River, making their way from the Andean highlands to the Atlantic Ocean.

All About El Dorado
El Dorado...the fabled lost city of gold. Who were the men who looked for it? Did they find it? was it ever real? Here's everything you need to know about the legendary city of El Dorado!

The New Laws of 1542
The so-called "New Laws" of 1542 were passed by the Spanish crown to assure that Spanish settlers respected the rights of the natives in the newly-conquered lands of the Americas. The laws were so unpopular that the King of Spain had to suspend them or risk losing his new colonies.

The Conquistador Civil War: Almagrists vs. Pizarrists
After Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizarro teamed up to conquer and loot the wealthy Inca Empire in 1533, the two men and the conquistadors loyal to each of them had a falling-out over the division of loot. Europeans in the newly-conquered territory began fighting each other: the conquistador civil wars would eventually claim the lives of both...

The Conquistador Civil War: Almagrists vs. Pizarrists
After Diego de Almagro and Francisco Pizarro teamed up to conquer and loot the wealthy Inca Empire in 1533, the two men and the conquistadors loyal to each of them had a falling-out over the division of loot. Europeans in the newly-conquered territory began fighting each other: the conquistador civil wars would eventually claim the lives of both...

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