The Great Spanish Conquistadors
The conquistadors were few in number, but they had ships, horses, armor, and deadly firearms. In Mexico they increased their numbers by joining up with native peoples rebelling against Aztec rule.
In , a band of conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro met the Inca emperor Atahualpa. They tricked him into being captured, and demanded a vast ransom of silver and gold for his release.
It was paid, but in they executed him anyway. In he was given command of a force of soldiers. He landed in Mexico, and reached the Aztec capital in He was greeted peacefully, but soon there was bitter fighting.
Conquistadors were often brave, but they were also quarrelsome and violent, driven by a desperate desire for gold and power. Within a year of his capture, Atahualpa was executed. By mid the Spaniards had taken Quito and effectively defeated the Inca armies.
Weakened by civil war and leaderless, the Inca empire collapsed swiftly though the jungle lowlands in both the coastal region of Esmeraldas and the Oriente remained unconquered until late in the seventeenth century. The Spanish conquest of Ecuador can be described as nothing less than brutal; looting, pillaging, and torture were standard tools of the conquistadors.
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Though the Inca were defeated, it took Spain almost two decades before it established a continuous, undivided system of colonial rule. After the Inca were subdued and several native rebellions put down, the dislike between Almargo and Pizarro that had been smoldering since the inception of their partnership, exploded. Almargo initiated open rebellion against Pizarro and was subsequently tried and executed for treason. After several more power shifts Spain tethered the remaining conquistadors and Ecuador began more than two and a half centuries of relatively peaceful colonial rule.
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