by Fernando Cervantes
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The 'conquistadors', the early explorers and settlers of Spanish America, have become the stuff of legends and nightmares. In their own time, they were glorified as heroic adventurers, spreading Christian culture and building roads, cathedrals, palaces and cities which have endured to the present. Today, they stand condemned for their cruelty and exploitation, as men who carried out horrific atrocities in their pursuit of gold and glory.
In Conquistadors, Fernando Cervantes cuts through the layers of myth and fiction to immerse the reader in the world of the late-medieval imperialist: a world as unfamiliar to us as the native peoples of the New World were to the conquistadors themselves. He paints a revelatory portrait of a diverse group of men, set against the political and ideational landscape from which they emerged. Here, we encounter the conquistadors as complex, fully human figures: by turns idealistic, incompetent, devout, venal, self-pitying and cruel.
From Columbus to Cortés, Pizarro and beyond, the explorers we think we know come alive in this thought-provoking and challenging account of a period that irrevocably altered the course of world history.