Discuss the relative importance of the trinity of motives--"God, Gold, and Glory"--commonly assigned to the conquistadors.Keen, Benjamin.  A History of Latin America, Vols, I and II, Eighth...

 Discuss the relative importance of the trinity of motives--"God, Gold, and Glory"--commonly assigned to the conquistadors.

Keen, Benjamin.  A History of Latin America, Vols, I and II, Eighth Edition.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009

2 Answers | Add Yours

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The proper motives would probably be Gold, Glory and God in that order. At the time of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, Spain was the poorest country in Europe. It was in desperate need of Gold to keep its economy from collapsing. Pizzaro reportedly remarked to Atahualpa, the Inca Emperor, "We Spaniards have a disease of the heart that only gold can cure." Columbus' primary motivation was gold, not spices. When one reads his dairies, they mention the gold jewelry he saw the Indians wearing. Later, he forced them to furnish a quota in gold, and cut off one of their fingers if they did not meet the quota.

Glory was also important. Hernan Cortez, Columbus, and others disobeyed direct orders in their treatment of the Indians. Columbus had been admonished by Isabella to "treat kindly" with the natives on his successive voyages. His idea of kindness was to release greyhounds on them to tear flesh from their limbs. He also insisted on the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and wished to be named Viceroy of all lands he discovered. Likewise, Pizzaro and Cortez wished to be named governors of all lands they conquered.

Religion was an excuse more than anything else for the Conquistadores to abuse and plunder the Indians. Pizarro promised Atahualpa that he would not have him executed by burning if he would become a Christian. Atahualpa agreed, and was baptized, after which Pizarro had him strangled. Many artifacts of Mesoamerica have been lost because overzealous Catholic priests destroyed them. Hardly in keeping with Jesus' teaching to love one another.

joegearde's profile pic

joegearde | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Great answer Larry.


The world was at it's incept of curiosity piqueing again.  The Reanaissance was starting to spread and the ideas of what's out there permeating.  We had just fought in the name of GOD for the crusades , so we have to always incorporate that ideal into what we claim as ours for the good of his creation. Makes it all relevant!!

GLORY is prevelant in mankind and has been since the first neanderthal fell a bigger beast than his counterpart.  Commisioning royalty and getting their funding and approval was paramount for their needs and success.  This succes was also a feather in the royalty cap when they could promote their explorers as do the owners of sport teams so promote their players.

The Gold was the easy one.  A product that came in some sense to our overall need to aquire what we don't have and make it exotic.  Spices, and knowledge launched the exploration age and Gold became the standard for continuance.  A simplistic view of complex events!!

We’ve answered 319,814 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question