Conquistadors: Searching for El Dorado, the Terrifying Spanish Conquest of the Aztec and Inca Empires by John Pemberton
In the 16th century the King of Spain issued his soldiers with a three pronged mission: to find gold, spread the word of Christianity and claim new territories for Spain. The conquistadors, as they became known, set off into the world to do just that, and nothing was to stand in their way. Their amazing journeys took them from Florida to Machu Picchu via the Amazon and Lake Titicaca. Their epic voyages revolutionised world geography and society was transformed by the bizarre foods they brought back - potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, pineapple, tobacco and chocolate, as well as exotic human freight. However, there is a much darker side to the story, for as the King of Spain sat in his court watching Mexican jugglers, his blood-stained emissaries massacred Aztec warriors, raping, branding and enslaving their women and murdering their kings in the name of religion. They spread European diseases such as smallpox, malaria and typhoid, decimating the local populations with tens of millions dying in their wake.