The One About Conquistadors
Tuesday, August 7, 2001

ok so,  

once upon a time, in a far away land, a land, far, far away, there were people.  the land was rich, the people were rich, and the people’s children were spoiled.  well, not all of the children were spoiled.  only the ones who did not become priests or join the army were spoiled.  also, the girl children were not spoiled so much as just married off.  right, so. what does a lesser nobleman’s son do when there is nothing for him to do?   well, if you’re from 16th century Spain you become a conquistador! i’d tell you what conquistador means, but i’ll not insult you guys like that.  

so yo, check it. i’m not dissin’ Spain and i’m not dissin’ conquistadors. ya dig?  so don’t be gettin’ in my face wit all dat, “what it is?”, dig?   don’t believe a word of what i write here.  it’s all fiction.  it’s all mostly fiction anyway.  i mean, parts of it are true.  ok, it’s all true. except for the parts i made up, which should be really obvious. 
with that said, here is Conquistadors for Numbskulls, Dorks, and Chickens.  or as i like to call it, The One About the Conquistadors. 

it is a humble list of ten (9) conquistadors, their deeds, and some stats.  

10. Vasco Nunez de Balboa (there’s a squiggle mark over the second ‘n’ in nunez. so there.) b.1475 Spain d.1517 Darien
Like most conquistadors, Balboa was the son of a nobleman.  He was not a farmer so he instead joined an expedition.  i could tell you all about it but it’s boring, so let’s just say he ended up in Colombia. He then ran into some dude named Pizarro and they headed to Panama.  They founded the town of Santa Maria de la Antigua which means, “Balboa y Pizarro were here” and together they plundered the locals and all that jazz. And like most conquistadors, he had heard rumors of a very rich city somewhere close by and wanted to find it and claim it for Spain and of course, himself.  He managed to find the South Sea which he named Mar del Sur, which means South Sea. He also did a lot of exploring and became popular.  This led to jealousy amongst some of his “friends”.  When he returned to Darien they beheaded him. Such is the life of a conquistador.
Likes: Gold
Dislikes: Indians
Most Famous For: Discovering the Pacific Ocean  

9. Ferdinand Magellan d. 1521 
Here we have another son of a rich family.  He was very smart and learned all about astronomy and nautical sciences.  His guidance counselor told him he’d make a good fisherman or conquistador.  He went with conquistador.  Mage went over to South America and did some exploring.  He made it through the dangerous straits down there at the bottom of the map on this side of the world and he named them Canal de Todos los Santos which means, “Straits of Magellan”. This is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans join.  He then did some more sailing and stuff. He searched for the Spice Islands.  He never made it to the Spice World, instead he died from a poison arrow.

Likes: Exploring
Dislikes: poison arrows, limits, Indians

Most Famous For: Circumnavigating the world  

8. Francisco Pizarro 1471 d.1541 Lima
Pizarro was an illegitimate child and grew up with no education.  So of course, the only thing he could do besides be a thief is of course, be a popular thief in the name of his country. So he sailed off to New Spain and became a conquistador.  He eventually met up with some shmo named Balboa and they explored places and oceans.  He then got his own expedition and he went to places like Panama and Peru. He killed a bunch of Incas and made himself a governor or viceroy or something and had a nice palace in Lima. He lived there until he was assassinated by a group of jealous people. 
Likes: Himself, Charles V HRE.

Dislikes: Incas

Hobbies: Peru  

7. Juan Ponce de Leon b. 1460 d. 1521
Ponce was the son of a very old and rich family.  He was a well educated man and also was a conquistador.  His first experience with conquistadoring was with Chris Columbus’s second expedition and they ended up in Hispaniola, which is like, present day Haiti or something.  He then heard about very rich cities that had yet to be explored and so he got his own expedition and searched for these rich places.  Along his way he killed many Indians.  He did not find any sort of rich cities but that didn’t matter because by now he had heard of a rumor about a “fountain of youth”. So he looked for that to claim for Spain and to make himself famous.  He discovered a place he named “Florida”, and was attacked by Indians. The Indians ran him off to Cuba and that’s where he died.
Likes: adventure
Dislikes: Indians
Hobbies: Fighting Indians, looking for things

Most Famous For: Not finding the Fountain of Youth  

6. There is no six.  

5. Cesar de Vaca b.1489 d. 1527
Cesar was the son of a nobleman and so became a conquistador.  He, like most conquistadors at that time, was interested in finding rich cities to plunder and Indians to kill. He did manage to obtain large amounts of gold but at the expense of losing most of his men.  He was never able to bring the gold back to Spain because his galleon, El Caballero, was shipwrecked off the coast of Porto Rico, which is present day Puerto Rico, and his gold was lost to the ocean.  He was later killed by Indians.

Likes: Gold

Dislikes: Losing gold
Most Famous For: Nothing.  i made him up. neener!

4. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado d.1554
Coronado went to the Americas and made peace with the Indians, settled a colony, and married a rich lady. Then he heard the rumors of the Seven Cities of Cibola. Supposedly Cibola was a very rich place. So of course, Coronado wanted a piece of the action and took off towards present day New Mexico in search of these seven golden cities.  He found poor Indian Villages. He forced Catholicism on the Indians and when they tried to resist, he conquered the Zuni and Hopi Pueblo villages of Hawikuh. Still no gold.  He moved on through Texas, and found no gold.  He then made it to Kansas and well, you know.  Kansas. When he got back to Mexico he was in trouble for not finding any gold and was later tried and convicted of corruption and for killing Indians. So he retired and died some years later.
Likes: Gold, God, Glory… in that order

Dislikes: not finding gold

Searched for: Seven Golden Cities of Cibola

Found: Wichita, Kansas

3. Pedro de Alvarado b. i dunno d. who cares?
Pedro explored much of Mexico and Central America and was Cortez’z right-hand man.  In fact, when Cortez had to move on after raiding the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, he left Pedro in charge. How’s that for ‘sponsitility? Later, on his own, he conquered Guatemala (read: killed a ton of Indians). And then he followed Pizarro around. Pizarro didn’t like him and sent him back to Guatemala.  Pedro then went exploring around Northern Mexico but by that time Cortez didn’t like him either and sent him back to Guatemala. He died while fighting an Indian raid.  Later that year, Guatemala was destroyed by “de Agua” which was a volcano.

Likes: Killing Indians
Dislikes: Not killing Indians

Did Jaimie make this one up: Surprisingly, no.

Not even the part about the volcano: nope. that’s true too.

2. Hernando De Soto b.1496 d.1542
First he explored New Spain (Panama y Peru) and then he settled down in Seville, Spain.  But the quite, rich and glorified life wasn’t enough for this conquistador so he sold all his possessions to equip his own expedition to a magic kingdom known the “island” of “Florida”.  “Florida” at this time was everything east of the Mississippi River.  He spent three (3) years exploring this region which included South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and of course, Florida.  He discovered Lake Michigan as well as Branson, Missouri.  During this time he killed lots of Indians.  When he reached the Mississippi River he got sick with a fever and then died.  His army then stuck his body in a tree trunk and sunk it to the bottom of the river so the Indians could not find his body and therefore not know that he was dead.

Likes: adventure, exploring, squandering a fortune in order to do more exploring
Dislikes: being comfortable, wealthy, waited on while he could be out there doing lots of exploring

Major Turn Off: not exploring

Major Turn Ons: killing Indians while exploring, spreading Catholicism

Famous For: Exploring, spreading European diseases to the fragile immune system of the Indians  

1. Hernan Cortez b.1485 d.1547 (can also be spelled Cortes, but i like the ‘z’)
Cortez was the conquistador’s conquistador. He quit school to become an adventurer and got himself a ride to Hispaniola.  He then helped Diego Velazquez conquer Cuba.  Then he sailed to Yucatan, Mexico where he conquered in the name of Spain, God, and Himself. He then hooked up with a Mexican lady and learned much of the Mexican culture.  Then he founded Veracruz City. Then he decided to take on the Aztecs,who were led by Montezuma, but first he made friends with all of the Aztec’s enemies.  Then he marched into the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, and was honored because the Aztecs (Montezuma included) kinda thought he was Quetzalcoatl, a god.  The Aztecs basically gave him the city.  He then killed them all and took all their gold. Then, when they had no more gold to give he made them mine for even more gold.  Emperor Charles V put Cortez in charge of New Spain. He died years later in Seville, Spain.

Likes: Gold, God, Slavery

Dislikes: Aztecs, things that are not gold
Favorite color: Gold

Things he likes more than gold: Gold, himself (in that order)

When asked which he preferred gold or silver he chose: Gold

Favorite element on the periodic table: Au

Favorite Bond film: Goldfinger
Favorite Olympic medal: Gold

Will Jaimie stop here: no

Favorite Dog: Golden Retriever

Favorite rule: Golden

Favorite former British territory in Africa: Gold Coast

Jaimie you should have stopped by now: i know    

some things to think about:
King Charles I of Spain was also Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. 
During this time Henry VIII ruled England and ticked off the pope.

Italy was having a smashing Renaissance.
Martin Luther was instigating a Reformation.
Columbus was not Spanish therefore i did not include him as a conquistador.  Also, Ferdinand Magellan was Portuguese (read: not from Spain) and i counted him as a conquistador, that makes me wishy-washy.

well kids, there you have it.

one quick note, my father tells me he used to be a conquistador, like, before i was born.  and mom says she “conquistadors” all the time.  she “conquistadored” two kids, “conquistadored” a preschool, she “conquistadored” a pot of coffee this morning, you know… that kind of thing.  so anyway, “conquistador” is the new verb of choice at the Pickle House this week. 
dad and i tried to explain to her that the word conquistador is a noun and not a verb but she didn’t care.  she really likes that word. 

next week’s epitomb: i can’t think of anything at the moment.  any suggestions?
try not to conquistador too hard this week,

jaimie “today Tenochtitlan, tomorrow the world” pickle  


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