Spanish Conquistadors exploring the Grand Canyon in the 16th Century, nowadays Arizona (United States). Illustration of the Spanish painter Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
Spanish conquistadors and their native Tlaxcalan allies enter Tenochtitlan

Conquistador (ɔːr/, also US: s-/, Spanish: [koŋkistaˈðoɾ], Portuguese: [kũkiʃtɐˈdoɾ, kõkiʃtɐˈðoɾ]; from Spanish and Portuguese for "conqueror") is a term which is widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires.[1][2] During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

After Columbus's discovery of the West Indies in 1492, the Spanish, primarily nobles from the west and south of Spain, began building up an American empire in the Caribbean, using islands such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola as bases. Florida fell to Juan Ponce de León after 1513. From 1519 to 1521, Hernán Cortés waged a campaign against the Aztec Empire, ruled by Moctezuma II. From the territories of the Aztec Empire conquistadors expanded Spanish rule to northern Central America and parts of what is now southern and western United States. Other conquistadors took over the Inca Empire after crossing the Isthmus of Panama and sailing the Pacific to northern Peru. As Francisco Pizarro subdued the empire in a manner similar to Cortés other conquistadores used Peru as base for conquering much of Ecuador and Chile.

In Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina conquistadors from Peru linked up with other conquistadors arriving more directly from the Caribbean and Río de la Plata-Paraguay respectively. Conquistadors founded numerous cities many of them on locations with pre-existing pre-colonial settlements including the capitals of most Latin American countries. Besides conquests, Spanish conquistadors made significant explorations into the Amazon Jungle, Patagonia, the interior of North America, and the Pacific Ocean.


The surrender of Granada in 1492. The last Moorish sultan of Granada, Muhammad XII, before Ferdinand and Isabella.
Christopher Columbus's first landing in the Americas in 1492

Portugal established a route to China in the early 16th century, sending ships via the southern coast of Africa and founding numerous coastal enclaves along the route. Following the discovery in 1492 by Spaniards of the New World with Christopher Columbus's first voyage there and the first circumnavigation of the world by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1521, expeditions led by conquistadors in the 16th century established trading routes linking Europe with all these areas.[citation needed]

Human infections gained worldwide transmission vectors for the first time: from Africa and Eurasia to the Americas and vice versa.[3][4][5] The spread of old-world diseases, including smallpox, flu and typhus, led to the deaths of many indigenous inhabitants of the New World.

In the 16th century perhaps 240,000 Europeans entered American ports.[6][7] By the late 16th century gold and silver imports from America provided one-fifth of Spain's total budget.[8]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Conquistador
العربية: كونكيستدور
azərbaycanca: Konkistador
Bân-lâm-gú: Conquistador
беларуская: Канкістадоры
български: Конкистадор
Boarisch: Konquistador
bosanski: Konkvistador
brezhoneg: Konkistador
català: Conquistador
Deutsch: Konquistador
Esperanto: Konkistadoro
euskara: Conquistador
français: Conquistador
Gàidhlig: Ceannsaichean
հայերեն: Կոնկիստադոր
hrvatski: Konkvistadori
Bahasa Indonesia: Conquistador
italiano: Conquistadores
қазақша: Конкистадор
Kiswahili: Conquistador
latviešu: Konkistadors
lietuvių: Konkistadoras
македонски: Конквистадор
მარგალური: კონკისტადორი
Bahasa Melayu: Konkuistador
norsk nynorsk: Conquistador
polski: Konkwista
português: Conquistador
română: Conchistador
Runa Simi: Qichukuq
русиньскый: Конкистадор
русский: Конкистадор
Simple English: Conquistador
slovenščina: Konkvistador
српски / srpski: Конкистадор
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Konkvistador
svenska: Conquistador
Türkçe: Konkistador
українська: Конкістадор
Tiếng Việt: Conquistador
中文: 征服者