Ratings: 6.48/10 from 25 users.


ConquistadorsConquistadors documentary tells the story of the Spanish expeditions that conquest of the Americas. In this 4-part series Michael Wood (historian) travels in the footsteps of the Spanish expeditions, from Amazonia to Lake Titicaca, and from the desserts of North Mexico to the heights of Macchu Picchu.

The Spanish conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth century was one of the most cataclysmic events in history. Spanish expeditions had to endure the most unbelievable hardships to open up the lands of the New World. Few stories, if any, in history match these for sheer drama, endurance and distance covered.

The Spanish had made several expeditions to the nearby Yucatan in 1517 and had returned with wondrous tales of a high-cultured Mayan civilization and gold riches.

The news of these discoveries made an electrifying impression on the Spanish colonists in Cuba. Among these was Hernán Cortés, Chief Magistrate of Santiago.

The Spanish governor of Cuba, Diego de Velásquez, told Cortés that he would provide two or three ships if Cortés would find the rest of the money, and lead the army. Cortés agreed and on October 23, 1518, Velásquez appointed him captain-general of a new expedition to the Yucatan.

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76 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Eniki520

    Michael Palin you and Louis Theroux are the best historical documentarians out there keep up the good work!

  2. Guest

    It keeps stopping, just for me or is it happening for everyone else ? :(
    oh, jerky on youtube too. never mind !

  3. knowledgeizpower

    Yeah I thought the same thing. It keeps stopping on me too Fifty.. (LoL)....Peace

  4. BeardHero420

    Can't wait to watch this - one of those points in history where I only really know the broad strokes, but want to know more. Ty Vlatko.

  5. tomregit

    A very good series. The last part concerning Cabeza de Vaca was completely new to me therefor, particularly interesting

  6. Charles Alderson

    Someone tell me this doc isn't attempting to glorify what the western world did to these amazing people. This is one of the worst tragedies in history when you consider all the knowledge lost. It would be like watching a doc about how awesome the holocaust is and what a great triumph it was for the world to lose so many Jewish people. Shamanistic civilizations were a real goldmine that we destroyed for no good reason at all.

    I only watched the first 15 minutes but if you guys say its worth watching I will do so. Feedback much appreciated! <3

  7. Guest

    I,ll keep trying, I like the presenter so it should be a goody :))

  8. Jamie Salley

    My professor showed this in my Spanish Civilization class. Whether or not you think the invasion of the Western world in the Americas was bad, this is a great telling of what happened. This guy really digs in deep.

  9. Guest

    The original Guy Fawkes mask at 47:45 part 2.

  10. Earthwinger

    Another great doc from Michael Wood. I don't think that anyone else brings history alive with as much passion and insight as he does. Two episodes in, and yet again, I find myself hanging on his every word.

    Real quality stuff, thanks Vlatko! :)

  11. Guest

    New it would be brilliant :)

  12. Guest

    He is a great story teller and such an expressive voice, love his style. Also liking your new pic by the way :)

  13. Sean Finn

    Michael Wood is a reputable historian - you can be sure that he will condemn the actions of our ancestors.

    Having said that, Expansion often leads to war, and war entails Destruction. Many will openly glorify men such as
    Alexander, Julius Caesar, Field-Marshall Haig, General Patton, even the Red Baron (who single-handedly shot down 80 English pilots) etc

    All the above men are responsible for countless deaths.

    Alexander, for example, committed acts of Genocide against colonised Greeks who had collaborated with the Persians, and he routinely slaughtered thousands of his own population, e.g. Thebes in 336 BCE. He also is directly responsible for the deaths of the millions who were in his way during the decade long conquest.

    But the western world calls him Great!

    We should try and learn from past tragedies.

  14. knowledgeizpower

    Thanks alright seems like you have already enjoyed it. I will take your word on it being good LoL....Peace

  15. Guest

    Hi K, seems to work fine today. Maybe we were having synchronised router problems :)

  16. Alex John Gonzales

    why the most stupid country in europe conquer mexico? If we were conquered by another country maybe mexico will be develop!

  17. Grant Lee

    This was a fairly good documentary. I like how he connects modern local views with written accounts. In addition, he uses a good balance of European and Indian documents. I have read a couple of letters from las Casas and Sepúlveda and he is right about the main points of their argument.

    Both men felt it was Spain's duty to further the expansion of Christendom but as usual, they disagreed with the method. Sepulveda took the road of Divine Right and Elitism as justification for forced conversion. Las Casas took the road of Tolerance and Example for personal conversion.

    Regardless, I like how the video emphasizes the need of those in charge to divert to the King to further their cause. The reason Las Casas wins the argument is because Genocide is not in line with basic Christian values and would have angered the Pope and shamed the country (too late for that).

    I find it interesting that these same principles governed The Crusades - and like World War 1 and Vietnam and every disaster of war, we all find we are human in the end, which was a great end-note.

  18. Earthwinger

    Thanks fifty4fourty! :)

    I figured a picture would stop some of the folks here, assuming that I'm a guy. ;)

    @ Grant Lee - A very eloquent and insightful comment about the doc., and I particularly like your conclusion. :)

  19. Guest

    Well let me be the first to apologize. You certainly are not a guy.

  20. Guest

    I was a man for a while, I think our names maybe sound blokey :/

  21. Guest

    I think I did that once or twice in the past, before I read one of your older posts by chance one day. I think the skateboard geek tag did it for me to begin with, along with your mentioning listening to Hendrix once, neither of which girls are generally into, I guess.

    Sorry about that...

  22. Guest

    Conquistador there is no time
    I must pay my respect
    And though I came to jeer at you
    I leave now with regret
    And as the gloom begins to fall
    I see there is no, only all
    And though you came with sword held high
    You did not conquer, only die.

    Procol Harum "Conquistador"

    Sorry, those lyrics have been ricocheting inside my skull. Needed to get them out.

  23. Guest

    Finished! Not like apocalypto.

  24. Earthwinger

    @ lakhotason - no apologies necessary. If it had bothered me, I would have mentioned it sooner. The only reason that it's come up now is because I felt like changing my av, and I thought a photo would be cool. :)

    @ fifty4fourty - I was as well, but that's a whole other story! :D

    @ Pysmythe - Yeah, I'm not your typical type of gal, it's true. My best friend affectionately refers to me as an "oddity", which is a tag that I'm quite proud of.......I think! :D

    Oh yeah, and my username comes from my favourite brand of longboards - Earthwing. Not very girly, I know. :)

    Anyway....keeping things on topic, I just finished watching part three, and I've found it all absolutely fascinating. :)

  25. Guest

    The highest compliment my friends have given me is to call me odd. And that's odd in a good way I assume.

  26. Guest

    Would also be interesting to see the real face of Epicurus, CnN, Lakhotason and a few others...and i bet it would be surprisingly different than what i had envisioned....same with your portrait.

  27. Epicurus

    you could if you had skype mwahahaha

  28. Grant Lee

    Thank you much Earthwinger. I am fighting my tendency toward alcohol induced stupidity.

  29. Grant Lee

    Great poetics but,

    Who has the power to ricochet lyrics in your head? I will speak to them.

    My response is "why does it not speak to me?"

  30. drinker69

    I want to make a documentary with this guy. He's got a beer in his hand every 10 minutes. Viva this guy!

  31. Guest

    That's me sitting in my tree.

  32. Guest

    Just google Procol Harum Conquistador. Select the version with the Edmonton Symphony (1974) and let the ricocheting begin.

    Seriously, when I sat watching the doc this song kept running through my head. Fits perfectly. Surprised it wasn't used in the doc.

  33. Guest

    What kind of bird is that and why did you use it ? :)

  34. Guest

    This is gonna be off topic so I'll make it quick. It's an osprey. I hiked into an area with a most beautiful lake and there were a mating pair of osprey's there. I spent two days photographing and videoing(?) but the real pleasure was just watching.

    One day when I was editing on one laptop and commenting on another (which is what I'm pretty much doing when on this site) Az suggested I needed an avatar so I stuck this up.

  35. Guest

    Thankyou :)

  36. Guest

    Sorry to stay off topic but is that what you do for a living or is it a hobby?

  37. Guest

    Sorry to stay off topic but is that what you do for a living and is that why you watch as you work or is it a hobby ? Tell me to shut up if I'm being nosey :)

  38. Guest

    I do nothing for a living. I was able to "retire" years before normal retirement age and I did it so as to pursue my two passions - photography and backpacking. As they say "It's a wonderful life".

    The reason I watch as I work is that with video editing, I have to convert the raw footage into another format and that takes time - a lot of time often. I just get on my other laptop and fiddle around on this site until it's completed. I'm doing it as we speak. I took about an hours worth of video yesterday from a point above the town. The fog was rolling back in and was stunning from above.

  39. Guest

    Surprised your retired, even if you did so early you still don't seem old enough. What do you do with all your film? What would you like to do with it ? Don't go and live with bears will you, that other guy got munched :(

  40. Guest

    You know, I was watching the section on deVaca and a felt a pang of jealousy. What an amazing adventure. To be truthful I probably would've stayed with the Indians. It would have been best if he did too.

  41. Guest

    It does make you wonder why and even how, after 10 years of adventuring, he was ever going to cut it in 'civilised' society. He obviously came through it a changed man, would have been nice to get a bit more info on life after the wilderness. His two lives were literally worlds apart. The familiar feeling of home must have been to tempting in the end, it was a hard slog.

  42. Guest

    I had to do it. Got de Vaca's book on my Kindle. Cost me a whole $2.30 USD. I suppose I'll wander through the Southwest with the man for a while.

  43. Guest

    Oops. Two glaring errors Mikey. The Seminole were not a tribe in deVaca's time. The Seminole didn't come about until the late 1700's. They are properly called a triracial isolate and not a tribe. They are composed of the Creek Indian, runaway slaves, and whites who preferred to live among Indians.

    And yes they did fight a war with the US and lost. They signed a treaty and were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma.

  44. Jack1952

    Another terrific doc! I was completely unaware of de Vaca's story. Amazing. Great stuff, Vlatko. Thanks.

  45. Jack1952

    He is called Alexander the Great but most people today don't think of him that way. That was a name given to him a long time ago by people with different standards than today. The idea of a conqueror being a hero is more and more becoming a thing of the past (hope so anyway).

  46. Jaime Hermida

    Please do not evaluate historic achievments with a 21st century moral framework. 16th century Europeans did not have the same values systems we have today. Conquest has always been part of human development since the Bronze Age until the XX century. If the Spaniards didn't conquer Precolombian America then the Portuguese, French or English would have. European were killing each other in endless religious wars and needed resources, the native americans were caught up in the fight for influence and money. The concepts of human rights didn't cross their minds. Europeans would trade with african slaves without any consideration to rights. It was the times. BTW The most outspoken defender of the indians and condemnation of spanish practices in America in the 16th century was a spanish priest Fray Bartolome de las Casas who greatly influenced the "Leyenda Negra" or Black Legend regarding the spanish empire.

  47. His Forever

    That's my real hand, Az. I'm fat, balding, and sorta have buck teeth (for real). I think my hand is probably my best looking part!

  48. adilrye

    Perfect, couldn't have said it better myself.

  49. Adam Orr

    Really enjoyed this video!

  50. LouSipher

    A Spanish person will find your comment worth of the descendants of practicing cannibals.

    Why the most stupid man in the world had to have your name?

    No need to be derogatory to whole countries desperado !

  51. Eniki520

    hes called great because of his military achievements not because he was a great person.

  52. Eniki520

    the great in his name doesnt mean he was a good person it means he was a great general(which implies violence).

  53. Eniki520

    "A Spanish person will find your comment worth of the descendants of practicing cannibals. " <-that doesn't make sense

  54. Grant Lee

    I'm not surprised. Many things are said, but vision is left unread. When we laugh it is often filled with dread. When fear breaks, war it thus makes. Only time can reveal, what would have been a great meal.

    Thank you guest for your diplomatic response.

  55. Grant Lee

    I have tried to reconcile my heritage. I am American now but my blood goes back so much further and I can not fathom it's intermixing on any scale (mostly Indian and French). I have now, after a year of study in American history, questioned my Cherokee background. There are so many traits that seem Indian and I would like to say they are moralistically good, but in reality, every nation I have known through-out history have been vile self-serving animals. I must assume the Cherokee were too. Ultimately, I want to know more about their history.

  56. Grant Lee


  57. Gary MacDonald

    What an incredible documentary! The BBC can really produce some amazing stuff for the Mind. My Girlfriend and I were waiting all day until this evening to sit down and watch the rest of this! Incredible!

  58. David Rodrigues

    colombus was Portuguese not spanish

  59. Jules Hawryluk

    I've read a lot of history on the conquest of the Incas,etc. But this episode of the Conquistadors was most enlightening for me. It really illustrates that we haven't change as human beings. We are motivated by greed, and it doesn't matter who we invade as long as we get what we in the affluent society need.

  60. Jack1952

    Columbus was born in Genoa which would make him Italian...not Portuguese.

  61. tomregit

    Why would you say this when the fact that he was born in Italy is well know and simple to check?

  62. jumpjack

    Grant- I am a 77 year old member of the Cherokee nation (Talequah,OK is capital). While I only have a small fraction of Cherokee heritage, after visiting Talequah, the museum, the city or my heritage, I researched my ancestory, proved my heritage and joined the tribe. You might do the same and can be proud both to be an American in spite of our mistakes and your native heritage. Jack Pruitt

  63. rljp

    to the contrary I percieve it to show how ruthless both sides were. Prior to Cortez both cultures from the americas where into giving blood to thier gods while as he states western religion had a god who gave his blood for them. He talks with no joy on how indigenous people were slaughtered and shows a resilience in their culture to hold onto language etc even if very limited in depth of retention. He shows how clearly proud the people are of their history in the americas even if it was so tragic which is probably why they want to remember it.

    It is a well done documentary starting from the begining and telling the story as it happened. In the day the Conquistadors were heroes. Its up to people themselves today to judge them for what they were and I think that is how this documentary is presented. This is what happened....this is what it was like at the time...and there was tragedy on both sides from two very different cultures of the time. One experienced in Conquest the other confused and unsure what tomorrow brings and relying on prophecy.

    Very well done. Done in the same fashion of Neil Ferguson in Economics and thus gets the same comments on people wanting to read into the story for justification on their personal peeves when in reality the story tellers are telling the story of history. Not condeming in length the tradegies for the viewers satisfaction for what happened just telling the story of history.

    Well done well for the watch for us docu junkies. :)

  64. Aaron Moses

    Actually he was an Italian from the city of Genoa sponsored by the Kingdom of Spain. Portugal had turned down his proposition to lead what would be the "New World" expedition.

  65. Tommy Brown

    The footage was very distracting, 70% of what I saw was modern day Mexico in the first video. But other than that very well done I learned a lot.

  66. André Lucas Carvalho


    I have just watched all four episodes, and I understand your concern as the first impression gives a slightly bad interpretation point of view. But I found that in all of the videos he looked at the perspective that any human being would have.

    The fact is that this unknown world was indeed a treasure of knowledge and culture, as well as material riches.

    I advice watching it as it gives good insight, broad perspective, and informative facts. Something I believe too few have concerning these areas, and majorly important historical eras.


    - droydi

  67. James Robert Edwards

    Absolutely the best documentary I have ever watched. Flawless history, and very well made. I thank the people who made this.

  68. Stefan Ilic

    Many cities in Europe claim the birthplace of Columbus. Three cities in Italy are still claiming, but it is confirmed that he is in fact from Genoa. Also it is believed that he had Jewish ancestry.

  69. Devon Griffiths

    Actually the Conquistadors were not perceived as heroes in their own time at all ... they were largely perceived as rogues. The paradigm of the time was the divine right of kings, and men like Cortes and Pizarro were seen by many as guilty of regicide - practically the most offensive act imaginable. Of course, money has its own morality, and the Spanish crown along with many ex-soldiers of the Reconquista saw their fortunes in the project. But even the Spanish crown recoiled from time to time, especially as the power of the encomiendas grew - they tried to arrest Cortes (and failed), and later launched military campaigns in both Peru and Mexico against the encomienderos (which also failed).

    There was also a strong reaction by the public in Spain, as evidenced by the emergence of figures such as Bartolome de las Casas.

    It wasn't just ideals about divine right that caused so many to be horrified. While some saw the Devil in the natives, other Christians saw in the New World a Garden of Eden, inhabited by a race of innocents who had not yet eaten the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. This (false) idea gripped the minds of many so powerfully, that it still haunts us to this day.

    Indeed, even many of the conquistadors themselves expressed doubts, years later.

    The notion that the conquests enjoyed any sort of universal blessing in the mother country, is completely false. There was a huge, huge rift in the society over the whole issue. People then weren't different than now; just because it was done, doesn't mean it lacked controversy.

  70. Manolito Dizon

    4 videos and not one mentions the conquest of the Philippines.

  71. maryE.T.

    So I read, Spanish coins were found in Kentucky that dated in the 1400s, or earlier than 1500s. There are also Spanish carvings in the state, and I believe ancient mines worked by them, or by the Native Americans for them - until they rebelled against abuse and either killed or chased away the invaders. I would not imagine that the Spanish had brought those coins along on a voyage, since their expeditions were typically for gold according to tradition.

  72. roxanne

    colombus (colon) was a jew living in italy.

  73. Mariel Castro

    I can't seem to watch this. says it's private. :(

  74. Russell

    "The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico" by Bien Diaz Cortez. This is the actual diary of the conquest.

  75. Attilashrugs

    Bernal Diaz.

  76. Attilashrugs

    Hey yeah. That is an interesting story that needs telling! Only your message awakened a curiosity about that. How did the Spanish conquer the Philippines?

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