Conquistadors (Spanish: conquistador, "conqueror") - in the XV-XVII centuries, Castilian (Spanish) and Portuguese soldiers, explorers and merchants who took part in the conquest of lands or the opening of trade routes in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Heroes of the era of great geographical discoveries. Also - conquistadors.
As a rule, conquistadors were impoverished Spanish knights (that is, hidalgos and caballeros). Modern historical science names the following main aspects of their emergence: the end of the Reconquista, the political and economic aspirations of the Spanish crown (the late period of the Conquista), the impoverishment of the nobility and, most importantly, the discovery of new lands that needed development.
An important role was played by the fact that, far from Europe, the Spaniard became free from both royal authority (for example, the situation with payments in favor of the crown at the beginning of the 16th century) and ecclesiastical authority.
One of their goals was to find and seize new lands and riches in an unknown world. Conquistadors conducted many expeditions and campaigns on the territory of the New World. Funding was usually carried out at the caballeros' own expense with almost no help, and often in spite of the ambitions of the Spanish royal court.
The main advantage was the presence of knightly cavalry encased in armor and firearms, which helped the conquistadors to successfully attack Indian settlements, and the local population experienced panic fear when they saw horses and riders, considering the latter in general as a single entity. Also, the lack of immunity to European diseases among Indians greatly helped the conquest. The conquests of the Spanish conquistadors included campaigns in Guatemala, Peru, Tuantinsuyu, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, and the Pacific coast.
Among the most famous leaders of the conquistadors are Hernán Cortés (Mexico), Francisco de Montejo (Yucatan as a whole), Francisco Pizarro (Tauantinsuyu), Diego de Almagro (Isthmus of Panama, Peru and Chile), Vasco Núñez de Balboa (Pacific coast of South America), Diego Velázquez de Cuellar, Pedro de Valdivia, Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo.
Many conquistadors, both ordinary soldiers and unit commanders, were later awarded various royal gifts