Who Were the Conquistadors?

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The conquistadors were soldiers and explorers from the Portuguese or Spanish Empire that sought out the new world during the Age of Discovery, which began around the 15th century. They were notorious for their use of violence and political manipulation to subdue other cultures and aid in their own exploration.

Conquistadors had many reasons to explore the new world. Usually, it was the prospect of wealth that called out to them. However, other conquistadors wished to spread Christianity or strengthen their home country. Although the conquistadors used many violent tactics in dealing with native populations, a more effective offense against the natives was disease, which was spread unknowingly through native cities. Epidemic diseases, such as chicken pox, influenza and malaria, killed many native people and even wiped out entire civilizations.