61. Fugitive Freedom - An Interview with William Taylor
Today we take a break from the conquest of Peru for an interview with William Taylor - a scholar of colonial Mexican history and before his retirement, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
His new book Fugitive Freedom tells the stories of two men who lived lives of deception, and examines what they can tell us about the society in which they lived. On the surface these men appear to be daring anti-heros and/or dangerous con-men. They also look like real life examples of the Picaros of Spanish colonial literature. A closer look however, reveals them to be much more three-dimensional characters, responding to the limitations of their social position and their own internal mental struggles.
60. The Conquest of Peru - Part 2
It took three attempts for Pizarro, de Almagro and de Luque to launch an expedition which even came into proper contact with the Inca. This episode tells the story of their first two expeditions.
59. The Conquest of Peru - Part 1
Inspired by rumours of a great empire and precious metals, in Spain's Panamanian colony three men hatch a plan to explore and colonise South America.
They were Diego de Almagro, Hernando de Luque and of course Francisco Pizarro. In this introduction to the conquest, we introduce them and explain how they came to be preparing to launch a conquest which would rival that of Cortes in Mexico
The Spanish attempt once again to settle in North America, but again their ambitions will be frustrated. The Narvaez expedition was an unmittigated disaster. It did however produce one of the most unbelievable stories of survival of the era.
Link to the petition to save ILAS - https://www.change.org/p/professor-jo-fox-and-professor-wendy-thomson-stop-the-closure-of-the-institute-of-latin-american-studies-sas-university-of-london?recruiter=1157550372&utmsource=sharepetition&utmmedium=twitter&utmcampaign=psfcomboshareinitial&utmterm=sharepetition&recruitedby_id=df7b78d0-10b8-11eb-b104-b7326168604e
57. Northwards (again)
As the Spanish expanded outwards from their base in the Caribbean, there was one region right next door that they had so far failed to colonise. Florida and the rest of North America was less than 100 miles from Cuba, and now it was where they turned their attention.
This episode will tell the story of the Ayllon expedition, and the first European settlement in the United States.
56. Sebastian Cabot
Sebastian Cabot is usually associated with his exploration of North America, but he also spent time in exploring the Rio de la Plata. Seduced by rumours of silver, he abandoned the mission he was given to follow in the footsteps of Aleixo Garcia.
55. Aleixo Garcia
In 1524 a shipwrecked Portguese soldier launched one of the most audacious expeditions in the history of the Iberian conquest of Latin America.
Stranded in Southern Brazil, he managed to not just survive, but to carve out a role for himself as a war leader and initiate the first contact between Europeans and the Inca empire.
54. The First Circumnavigation of the Globe - Part 2
Magellan continues his journey and becomes the first European to sail from the Atlantic through to the Pacific. His journey is only going to get harder however, and although the expedition will make it back to Spain there will be a heavy price to pay first.
53. The first Circumnavigation of the Globe
While Cortez was in Mexico, something else was happening - something which was perhaps just as important for world history. Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain to find a route around the Americas to Asia, and sail all the way around the globe.
52. When Latins Fight - An Interview with Walter Molano
This is part two of my conversation with Walter. This time we talk about his book 'When Latins's Fight - Why There is No United Stated of South America'.
The book provides an account of all the major wars that took place between states in post-independence South America. Doing this allows Walter to not just cover the stories of each conflict, but to pull out some of the common themes that run through them. In this episode he explains how some of these wars came about, what their legacies are and how these rivalries affect the future prospects of the region.
51. Coronavirus and Latin America - An Interview with Walter Molano
The WHO recently declared that Latin America is becoming the new epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some countries in particular have been badly hit, with Brazil currently second globally when it comes to numbers of cases. The pandemic is having a major economic impact everywhere, and if the future looks difficult for countries like the USA, Europe and Australia, it could potentially be even harder for regions like Latin America.
In this special episode I speak to economist and historian Walter Molano about how the pandemic will affect the region.
50. 50th Episode Special - Latin American Film (to watch during lockdown)
Something a bit different to celebrate the podcast's 50th episode. As many of us are spending a lot more time at home due to the coronavirus crisis and looking for things to keep us entertained, here is an episode about some of the best Latin American films I have seen.
49. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 13
In this episode we tie up all the loose ends and finish the series on the conquest of Mexico. We will look at what Spanish control actually looked like on the ground, look at what happened to Cortez' and Moctezuma's descendants, and tell the stories of a couple of lesser known participants in the conquest.
48. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 12
Today we conclude the conquest of Honduras. The convoluted scheming continues as bigger players get involved.
47. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 11
Having expanded his hold on Mexico and sent de Alvarado to Guatemala, it was Cortez turned next to Honduras. He was not the only one however.
The conquest of Honduras wasa messy and dramatic free-for-all with a large cast of characters and factions scheming and fighting against each other.
The conquest of Mexico - part 10
The conquest outside of Mexico. De Alvarado leads an army down to Guatemala where he makes a lot of noise, but did he achieve as much as he is credited with?
45. The Conquest of Mexico - part 9
With Tenochtitlan under his control, Cortez was faced with a new challenge. He needed to build a stable government, while keeping the Aztec population, his own men, the king and rival conquistadors happy.
44. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 8
Cortez was on the run after being forced out of Tenochtitlan, but within six months he was back on the shores of Lake Texcoco trying to work out how to take the city. The bloodiest phase of the conquest was about to begin.
Announcement - The Latin American History Podcast is now Available in Portuguese
Thankyou to Mateus Menezes for taking this on! The first episode is already online, and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts from.
43. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 7
If last episode was a slow burn political thriller, this one is all action. Cortez will face Aztec and Spaniard in a bid not just to save his conquest, but for his very survival.
42. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 6
In November 1519 Cortez entered Mexico city. What would happen when these two alien civilisations met? The coming months would among the most decisive of the conquest, but they would also be the strangest.
41. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 5
Cortez was determined to meet with emperor Moctezuma - even if Moctezuma had made it more than clear that he wanted nothing to do with him. To do this, he would have to march over land to Tenochtitlan but getting there would not be easy.
Between him and the Aztec capital stood the mighty Aztec city of Cholula and the land of the mysterious and ferocious Tlaxcalans. Cortez would have to negotiate his way past both before he reached his goal.
40. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 4
Today's episode sees Cortez meet the Aztec for the first time, found a city, see off a rebellion, and gain some allies.
39. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 3
After his stop in the Yucatan, Cortez continued northwards. He had a few difficulties to overcome before he encountered the Aztec however. Today's episode will see him fighting the first battles of the conquest, and meeting a character who will play a major role in coming events.
38. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 2
In the lead up to the Spanish arrival in Mexico, the Aztec witnessed a series of ominous omens. They included strange two-headed men, pillars of flame and ghostly voices. In this episode we examine these and what impact they had on their interpretation of the arrival of the Spaniards.
Meanwhile Cortez reaches Southern Mexico and take stock of his surroundings. While on the island of Cozumel he makes a surprising discovery. A marooned Spaniard.
37. The Conquest of Mexico - Part 1
This is the first episode in a series which covers one of the most famous and significant events in Latin American History - the conquest of the Aztec.
Today we lay the groundwork for the events to come. We introduce the main characters of our story, and have a look at their lives before conquest took place.
36. Under new management
While the conquistadors were off exploring and conquering the Americas, back in Spain change was afoot. Ferdinand and Isabella both died within the first couple of decades of the 1500s, and this set off an ugly political struggle. The end result was that Spain would come under control of a new family of kings, and would become part of a much larger and more powerful political unit.
35. The Taino Rebellion
When Ponce de Leon was not off exploring, he spent most of his time on the island of Puerto Rico. Despite having conquered it himself with ease however, his life there was far from straightforward. His governorship was challenged by both the indigenous inhabitants who launched a protracted rebellion, and rival Spaniards who hoped to control the island themselves.
Today we look at Spanish movement north of Hispaniola. We will follow Ponce de Leon as he explores Florida, as well as Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba and Juan de Grijalva on their trips to Mexico.
33. Tierra Firme - Part 4
In today's episode the story of Balboa and Tierra Firme comes to an end. The story has already had more than it's fair share of twists and turns but it still has a few surprises in store.
Will Balboa establish his new colony? Will Santa Maria survive D'avila's leadership? and will they put their differences aside for the common good? Spoiler alert - of course they won't.
32. Tierra Firme - Part 3
In part three of the story of the first Spanish colony on the mainland of the American continent, Balboa meets his biggest challenge yet - a man who will become his bitter rival.
31. Tierra Firme - Part 2
In part one of this series Balboa managed to somehow usurp not one but two royally sanctioned expeditions to the mainland of the Americas. Not he must keep keep his colonists loyal while also proving to the Spanish king that he should be allowed to remain in charge of the colony. What better way to do this than by going exploring and discovering the Pacific Ocean?
30. Tierra Firme - part 1
Today's episode is a tale of adventure. It involves conquest, battles, pirates, disease and rivalry. This is the story of the first Spanish colonies on the American mainland.
Link to donate to the Guatemalan Red Cross - https://www.cruzroja.gt/donativos/
29. The Conquest of the Caribbean
Since Columbus' first discoveries, the Spanish empire had been confined to the island of Hispaniola. In just a few short years that would change with Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Cuba all quickly and easily coming under their control. This episode tells the story of how they did it. We have met some of its characters before - like Pinzon and de las Casas, but it also includes some new ones.
28. The Andalucian Journeys
The years 1499 and 1500 saw three explorers set out to explore the South American coast. While European knowledge of the region would be be enhanced by these trips - laying the ground work for future conquest - all three of these expeditions would turn out to be expensive failures for the men who led them.
27. Nicolas de Ovando and Early Hispaniola - Part 2
In part one we looked at the institutions the Spanish were creating in their colony, and much of what they did was not pleasant for the island's native inhabitants. Today we will continue our exploration of early Hispaniola by having a look at some of the push back against this.
We will talk about the slave revolts and that of the Taino under Enriquillo, and we will have a look at Bartolome de las Casas - a Spaniard who dedicated his life to changing how indigenous Latin Americans were treated.
We will also finish off the story of governor Ovando and have a look at the rule of Diego Columbus - son of the famous explorer.
26. Nicolas de Ovando and Early Hispaniola
Being the first new world colony that the Spanish established, Hispaniola was a grand experiment. Today we take a look at how it was turning out under the rule of its third governor Nicolas de Ovando.
His rule was a time of rapid growth, despite the fact that he had to deal with both a hurricane and an earthquake. This was also a pivotal time for the indigenous Taino. Ovando would go on a campaign of pacification which involved numerous massacres and which saw the population drop by as much as 90%. The remaining Taino also became subject to the new encomienda system which governed their role in this new society they found themselves forced into.
25. Columbus' Fourth Voyage
Despite being arrested and sent back to Spain to face punishment, Columbus was not done yet. He managed to wrangle himself one last voyage of discovery. Perhaps he shouldn't have bothered pursuading the Spanish monarchy to let him have another go, on the way he will face a hurricane, yet more mutiny and end up stranded on a Caribbean island.
24. Portugal makes an entrance
Over the last few episodes we have been busy looking at Spanish activity in the Caribbean, but Portugal's activities have hardly been mentioned. Today we follow them as they make their first visit in the new world.
The story includes first contact with the native Tupi people of Brazil, a great storm that will kill hundreds of people, and the naming of the American continent.
23. Setting the Scene
The colony that Columbus founded on Hispaniola was by this point, well and truely up and running. While it only occupied a tiny part of what would become Spanish America, the foundations for empire were being laid.
Today we take a step back from the story and examine what these foundations looked like. There were three things that would have a profound impact on the Spanish empire, the Treaty of Tordesillas, the conquistador model of conquest, and the competing motivations of the various Spanish actors. This episode examines them all.
22. Columbus' 3rd Journey
Columbus' third voyage was less about exploration and more about the governance of his fledgling colony. Despite this he would reach the American mainland for the first time and venture further south than he had before. Meanwhile, things in the colony were not going well and things were slipping out of Columbus' control.
21. The Difficult Second Album
Columbus returned triumphantly to Spain after 'discovering' the Americas, and was given a blank cheque to launch a second expedition. This time things would not go exactly to plan.
20. Columbus First Journey
After years of trying, Columbus had finally secured funding to set off across the Atlantic. What happened next is known to almost everyone in Western world. Columbus reached the Americas and began the process of European colonisation.
The details of his journey however, are rather less known and this episode tells its story. Along the way he will face storms, hostile foreign governments, natives and insubordination from his crew.
19. Who Was Christopher Columbus?
Everyone knows that Columbus started the colonial era by travelling to America, but not many know much more about him. In this episode we will look at the various theories as to who he was, and how he ended up persuading the Spanish royalty to back his voyage.
18. The Iberians - Part 2
Having looked at the general history, this episode we hone in on the events that led up to the discovery of the Americas. We cover the war of Castilian succession and why it was so important for the future of the Americas - despite the fact that they had not been 'discovered' yet. Along the way we will encounter family feuding, incest and scheming which would make Game of Thrones look tame.
17. The Iberians - Part 1
This episode provides a lightning fast run down of Iberian history up to the 1400s. We will also start to unpack how this history influenced the Spanish and Portuguese cultures and national characters. These influences would go on to determine how they behaved in the new world.
16. Brazil and the Southern Cone
This episode sees us wrapping up our look at pre-Columbian history. We will cover the peoples of Brazil, Paraguay and the Southern cone before conducting a brief analysis of the major themes that have emerged from looking at the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Click here for the Mexican earthquake charity episode:
The Mexican Earthquake Fundraising Episode - An Announcement
Last week Central Mexico was hit by an earthquake which killed hundreds of people and damaged as many buildings. I will be releasing a special episode within the next two weeks which will come at a one off cost of US$5. The money used to purchase the episode will go to the Mexican Red Cross, and will help them in their efforts to rebuild. The episode can be purchased using the Patreon link below.
The special episode will cover a century of Mayan history and tell one of the most fascinating stories in Mexican history. It is a tale of rivalry, war and city building. It is the story of great leaders trying to out do each other in war, diplomacy and culture.
It's win-win as for a small price you will get access to the episode and your money will go towards a good cause.
Thank you for your generosity.
Patreon page -
The Mexican Red Cross' earthquake campaign - - The page is only available in Spanish but English speakers can read more on the international Red Cross' website
15. The Inca - Part 3
In our last episode on the Inca we look at the lives of ordinary Inca subjects. What was did the average person's day look like? How did they practice their religion? We will also take a look at the Inca capital of Cusco - how it was laid out and how its great buildings were built.
14. The Inca- Part 2
This episode takes a look at how Inca society was organised. As we will see, theirs was a highly developed state with social structures which draw comparison with our own. One in particular is interesting, as it could be argued that they created a form of proto-socialism complete with communal land use and a welfare state.
13. The Inca - Part 1
In just two short generations, the Inca exploded out of their homeland and conquered an area the size of the Roman empire. What had once been proud civilisations were swept aside and incorporated into the new state.
This episode charts the rise of Inca from their mythical origins, through their centuries as a weak city state, and all the way to their greatest heights.
12. Ancient Andes - Part 2
As the Andean region developed, bigger multiethnic empires started to emerge. Two equally sized rivals - Tiwanaku and Huari battled for control of the mountains while the Chimu built a great city down on the coast. Meanwhile the Chachapoya people created an enigmatic society of their own and left us some mysterious puzzles which we are yet to solve.
11. Ancient Andes - Part 1
The Andean region was home to a long line of fascinating civilisations. Each one had its own interesting culture and ingenious ways of overcoming their environments. This episode traces the social evolution of the area from the earliest cities to the first empires.
Along the way we will encounter the mysterious Nazca lines, strange wind powered waterholes and the largest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas.
10. The Amazon
The Amazon basin is one of the world's last great wildernesses. It is a vast expanse of thick jungle inhabited by small tribes who live the same way that they have done for millennia.
Well actually, probably not.
More and more evidence is coming to light which suggests that the region was actually home to large populations, organised states and even cities. This episode looks at these discoveries and what they mean for our understanding of the Amazon.
9. Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean - Part 2
Today we continue our exploration of Colombia and the Caribbean. We look at several mysterious civilisations who left us impressive evidence of their existence, but no clues as to who they were. We then move on to the Caribbean and look at the Taino and Carib peoples. We get to the bottom of the El Dorado myth, and try to determine of the Caribs really the ferocious cannibals they were said to be.
8. Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean
There is a bit of a blank spot in most people's maps when it comes to Central America. We know about the Aztec and the Inca but what was going on in between?
There were actually several advanced societies in the region, with historians even placing one in the same category as the Mesoamerican and Andean cultures. This episode will outline some of them, as well as discussing language families and how they help us work out who is related to who (and how they got to the places they are today).
7. The Maya - Part 2
The Mayan peoples are well known for their advanced civilisation. They created a complex calendar, had a writing system, and possessed a vibrant and fascinating religion. This episode will examine their cultural achievements as well as discussing the various theories as to why they collapsed.
6 - The Maya
Everyone has heard of the Maya. Their pyramids are famous and there was mild hysteria a few years ago when the media got hold of the idea that they may have predicted the end of the world. Who were they though? Where did they come from and how did they live?
This was suposed to be the second episode on the aztec but my recording software has corrupted the file and I will have to record it from scratch. I have decided to move on to the Mayan instead and will release the Aztec episode at a later date
5. The Aztec - Part 2
Several weeks late, I have finally got around to re-recording the second episode on the Aztec.
This time we discover how the Aztec moved from a small alliance of cities to a vast empire. We also examine their region, their gruesome penchant for human sacrifice and how they structured their society.
4. The Aztec
The Aztec are one of the most well known civilisations in history. Everyone recognises their art and architecture, and most know of their grizzly reputation for human sacrifice.
In this episode we discuss the humble origins of the Aztec. We look at where they came from, and how they established themselves as a major power in the region. We will also examine how their empire was structured, and the importance of legitimacy when attempting rule other people.
3. Ancient Mexico - Part 2
In this episode we continue our tour of Ancient Mesoamerica and move into the classical era.
This was a time of larger and more technically advanced civilisations than those which had come before. We will look at Teotihuacan, El Tajin, and return to the Zapotec and Mixtec.
The second half of the episode will look at the great collapse which affected almost all the peoples of the classical era, and which saw their great cities fall. We will discuss some of the theories that attempt to explain why this happened. Was it climate change? social unrest? or something else?
2. Ancient Mexico
Mexico is one of the cradles of humanity and was home to some of the world's great civilisations. Everyone knows about the Aztec and the Maya, but these are just two of the many peoples who inhabited the region.
In this episode we look at the earliest cities in Mesoamerica including the Olmec and the Zapotec. We will also discuss the ball game - the strange sport which was ubiquitous in the area, and which sometimes resulted in the sacrifice of its participants.
1. First Migrations
People have lived on the American continent for thousands of years, but we have relatively little idea how they got there. While most people agree that they crossed over the Bering Straits and into Alaska, our knowledge of how they came to populate the continent from there is extremely hazy.
In this - the first episode of the Latin American History Podcast - we will discuss some of the theories that attempt to explain who moved where and when, as well as examining some of the alternatives to the Bering Straits idea.