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Discover_our_World_Yellow / Lesson 14: The Spanish Explorers



The Spanish Explorers

Spanish Conquistadors

  • The Spanish came to the South American and Mexican lands to conquer the Indians, take their lands for colonization and to take their gold to make Spain richer

  • Many Conquistadors (Conquerers) followed Cortes and Pizarro

  • They wanted Gold because gold is beautiful, it is scarce, it will not rust and it can be made into many shapes

  • The Spanish took Incan and Aztec gold and made it into gold coins (The U.S. silver dollar was eventually modeled from the Spanish coins)

Francisco Coronado

  • He had heard stories from two men, (Fray Marcos & Estevanico), that were shipwrecked off the coast of Texas (part of the Southwestern USA)

  • The men told stories that there were seven cities entirely made out of gold

  • Francisco Coronado believed the stories and he went looking for these Seven Cities made out of Gold

Coronado's Expedition

  • In 1540 Coronado searched for the golden cities, but he never found them

  • Coronado and his men were the first to see the Grand Canyon and to give Spain a large claim to the area Southwest of the United States


  • The areas that the Spanish explored, they colonized

  • Colonization: When the Country sends people over to live in the new lands

  • Spain began granting Encomiendas to the new colonists

  • Encomiendas: large areas of land including Indian villages given to colonists

  • The colonists who received encomiendas had to house, feed and teach Christianity to those Indians that lived there

Indian Workers

  • The Indians were forced to work for the colonists from dawn to dusk

  • The Indians were beaten if they did not listen

  • Eventually, the Spanish found Silver Mines in Bolivia and Central Mexico

  • The Indians were required to work in the mines to collect the Silver for the Spanish


  • Many Indians began to die from diseases and harsh treatment from the Spanish, so the Spanish decided to go to Africa to get people to replace the Indian slaves

  • The Spanish then used both the Indians and the Africans as slaves

Hernando de Soto

  • Between 1539-1542 Hernando de Soto explored the American Southwest

  • Hernando de Soto and his men were the first explorers to see the Mississippi River

Juan Ponce de Leon

  • In 1513 Ponce de Leon explored Florida

  • He was looking for "The Fountain of Youth"

  • The Fountain of Youth was an imaginary fountain that people believed existed---it was believed that if you drank the water from this fountain than you would never grow old or die

  • He never found it because it did not exist

Vasco Nunez de Balboa

  • In 1513 Balboa traveled and explored Central America

  • Balboa and his men were the first Europeans to see the Pacific Ocean

Colonial Cities

  • Cortes set up Mexico City to replace the Aztec city of Tenochitlan

  • He forced many Aztecs to help him build this colonial city for the Spanish

  • In place of the Aztec temple, he replaced it with a large Catholic Cathedral or Church

  • By 1554 Mexico city looked like a European city in Spain

  • Today Mexico city still has Aztec ruins and original Spanish colonial buildings along with modern buildings


  • Pizarro-The explorer who conquered the Incas in the Andes Mountains also began to build a colonial city for the Spanish

  • Pizarro built a colonial city called Lima, Peru

  • Pizarro was buried in Lima in the central square

The Spanish Empire

  • By the end of the 1500s the Spanish Empire included the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Central America, and Peru and places in North and South America

  • The Spanish wore silver armor suits to protect themselves from the Indians

  • The armor suits enabled them to control the slaves