The Rise of the Spanish Empire, From Columbus to Magellan

Lately I have been becoming a book junkie and have made it a goal to try and learn everything that I can about the conquest of Mexico and the Spanish empire that conquered it. I have bought many books and will be sharing them with you in the weeks to come. As I have always mentioned History and Genealogy go hand in hand. And these books are great since they provide a historical overview of the times and era that our ancestors lived. We get an idea of what they may have had experienced. With the book “Who’s Who of the Conquistadors” I became a big fan of it’s author Hugh Thomas. In researching him I came across another great book of his titled “Rivers of Gold, The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan”. This book focuses from 1492 to 1522, centered in the Caribbean with incursions to the mainland and it ends with Magellans journey south to Patagonia. In this book Hugh Thomas tracks the conquistadors while following in Spain the evolution of policy towards the newly discovered lands and peoples.

Cover of Book: Title

Rivers of Gold The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan

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Description of book by Amazon:

From one of the greatest historians of the Spanish world, here is a fresh and fascinating account of Spain’s early conquests in the Americas. Hugh Thomas’s magisterial narrative of Spain in the New World has all the characteristics of great historical literature: amazing discoveries, ambition, greed, religious fanaticism, court intrigue, and a battle for the soul of humankind.

Hugh Thomas shows Spain at the dawn of the sixteenth century as a world power on the brink of greatness. Her monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, had retaken Granada from Islam, thereby completing restoration of the entire Iberian peninsula to Catholic rule. Flush with success, they agreed to sponsor an obscure Genoese sailor’s plan to sail west to the Indies, where, legend purported, gold and spices flowed as if they were rivers. For Spain and for the world, this decision to send Christopher Columbus west was epochal—the dividing line between the medieval and the modern.

Spain’s colonial adventures began inauspiciously: Columbus’s meagerly funded expedition cost less than a Spanish princess’s recent wedding. In spite of its small scale, it was a mission of astounding scope: to claim for Spain all the wealth of the Indies. The gold alone, thought Columbus, would fund a grand Crusade to reunite Christendom with its holy city, Jerusalem.

The lofty aspirations of the first explorers died hard, as the pursuit of wealth and glory competed with the pursuit of pious impulses. The adventurers from Spain were also, of course, curious about geographical mysteries, and they had a remarkable loyalty to their country. But rather than bridging earth and heaven, Spain’s many conquests bore a bitter fruit. In their search for gold, Spaniards enslaved “Indians” from the Bahamas and the South American mainland. The eloquent protests of Bartolomé de las Casas, here much discussed, began almost immediately. Columbus and other Spanish explorers—Cortés, Ponce de León, and Magellan among them—created an empire for Spain of unsurpassed size and scope. But the door was soon open for other powers, enemies of Spain, to stake their claims.

Great men and women dominate these pages: cardinals and bishops, priors and sailors, landowners and warriors, princes and priests, noblemen and their determined wives.

Rivers of Gold is a great story brilliantly told. More significant, it is an engrossing history with many profound—often disturbing—echoes in the present.

Table of Contents:

Here is the table of contents of this book so that you may know exactly what it contains. I just focused on the titles of the different main chapters and included the Apendix since I know it may be of interest to you.

Book One – Spain at the Crossroads

Book Two – Columbus

Book Three – Bobadilla and Ovando

Book Four – Diego Colon

Book Five – Balboa and Pedrarias

Book Six – Cisneros

Book Seven – Charles, King and Emperor

Book Eight – New Spain

Book Nine – Magellan and Elcano

Book Ten – The New Empire

Appendix A: Family Trees

The Albas and the Columbuses

The Spanish Royal Family

The Mendozas

The Ponces de Leon

The Fonsecas

Appendix B: The Cost of Becoming Emperor, 1519

Appendix C: Registered Vessels Sailing to and from the Indies, 1504-22

About the Author:

Hugh Thomas has written numerous histories on the Spanish speaking world, including The Spanish Civil War, for which he won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1962, Cuba or the Pursuit of Freedom, The Conquest of Mexico and The Slave Trade. His book The Unfinished History of the World won the first National Book Award for History in 1980. Hugh Thomas was chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies 1979-89 and was awarded a peerage as Lord Thomas of Swynnerton in 1981. –

Get Your Copy of This Book:

At the moment of writing this the only place that I could find it was at and was selling starting at $7.99 used and $24.98 new. The hardcover one is going for as much as $90.48. If you are interested in buying this book click here BUY  NOW to buy form Amazon.

I hope that you find this book useful and informative as I have. Please let me know in the comment area of what you thought about htis book.

About Moises Garza

I have doing my family genealogy since 1998. I am also the creator of this blog Mexican Genealogy, and my personal blog We Are Cousins. To always be up to date with both of these sites follow me on facebook. Please feel free to contact me for anything.

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