Black Conquistadors: Armed Africans in Early Spanish America

TitleBlack Conquistadors: Armed Africans in Early Spanish America
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsRestall, Matthew
Date Published10/2000

This article places Juan Garrido, an African conquistador, in the specific biographical context of black conquistadors who fought and settled in other regions of Spanish America – from Yucatan to Chile – and in the broader historical context of the black experience in Spanish America. The sources for this endeavor are a combination of primary material, mostly the genre of colonial "chronicles" but including a few archival items, and secondary works. The article's purpose is thus, first, to marshal the widely scattered evidence on the topic with a view to making the broad and simple – but hitherto inadequately substantiated if not marginalized – point that Africans were a ubiquitous and pivotal part of Spanish conquest campaigns in the Americas; second, to articulate whatever patterns are visible in black conquest roles and to locate African participation in the phases of Spanish expansion; and third, to argue that such roles should be seen in a longer-term colonial context whose most notable features were the existence of black militias and individuals whom the author terms black counter-conquistadors.

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