Hernan cortés

Playing devil’s advocate: a Mexican historian defends the Conquistadors

Many books claim to describe junctures that changed the world but few examine ones as consequential as Conquistadores: A New History. Hailed by the Romantics as courageous explorers, the Spanish conquerors are increasingly seen as violent and rapacious exploiters. That, says Fernando Cervantes, oversimplifies the complexities of the early modern period. Cervantes, a Mexican historian, places the conquest of the Americas in Spain’s political context. In 1492, at great cost to the royal purse, Spain recovered Andalucía from the Moors. So when a charismatic Genoese navigator proposed to sail southwest in search of a new trade route to Asia, Ferdinand and Isabella approved. Columbus’s voyage was the first step to