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The 'conquistadores', the early explorers and settlers of Spanish America, have become the stuff of legends and nightmares. In their own time, they were glorified as heroic adventurers, spreading Christian culture and helping to build an empire unlike any the world had ever seen. Today, they stand condemned for their cruelty and exploitation, as men who decimated the ancient civilizations of the Aztecs and the Incas, and carried out horrific atrocities in their pursuit of gold and glory.

In Conquistadores, Mexican historian Fernando Cervantes cuts through the layers of myth and fiction to immerse the reader in the world of the late-medieval imperialist. It is a world as unfamiliar to us as the Indigenous peoples of the New World were to the conquistadores themselves. Drawing upon a wide range of sources including diaries, letters, chronicles and treatises, Cervantes reframes the story of the Spanish conquest of the New World, set against the political and intellectual landscape from which its main actors emerged. At the heart of the story are the conquistadores, whose epic ambitions and moral contradictions defined an era.

From Columbus to Cortés, Pizarro and beyond, the explorers we think we know come alive in this thought-provoking and illuminating account of a period that irrevocably altered the course of world history.

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Fernando Cervantes is a historian of early modern Europe specialising in the intellectual and religious history of early modern Spain and Spanish America. Between 2005 and 2008 he was principal investigator of a major Leverhulme Research Project entitled "The Celestial and the Fallen: Angels and Demons in the Hispanic World". With Dr Andrew Redden of Liverpool University, he is currently completing work on a co-authored monograph. A co-edited collection of essays entitled "Angels, Demons and the New World" was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. His most recent book, Conquistadores: A New History, was published by Allen Lane/Penguin in 2020 and by Viking in 2021. Longer term projects include a study of the literary imagination of early modern Europe that seeks to place the works of Montaigne, Cervantes and Shakespeare in the wider context of early modern humanism and the epistemological crisis of the early seventeenth century. Dr Cervantes was the John Coffin Memorial Lecturer in the History of Ideas at the University of London in 2005 and has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, UCLA, and the Liguria Study Centre for the Arts and the Humanities, Bogliasco, Italy. In the Spring quarter of 2009 he held the Tipton Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was also Series Editor for Pickering and Chatto's (now Routledge) "Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World" until 2018.

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