Who never dreamed when he was a kid of being an explorer like Indiana Jones and discovering unexplored lands, abandoned historic temples and fighting against Nazis? Ok the last part is perhaps very specific to Indiana Jones, but for the rest it necessarily makes a lot of people dream of being an adventurer / explorer. If on paper it looks nice you still have to remember that being an explorer is a hassle because of mosquitoes and scurvy, especially since some of the most famous have done not really pretty things, we offer you a dive among the most cruel of them.
1. Hernan Cortés, the destroyer of the Aztec people
The conquistadors were not shy when it came to massacring at all costs to obtain land. In this category, one of the biggest puffs is probably Hernan Cortés, who decided to leave with 500 well-trained men to conquer the Yucatan.
If the Aztecs weren’t known for being tenderhearted, they probably didn’t deserve to be slaughtered by the thousands either, but that’s what happened. After arranging to rip off good old Montezuma, Cortés literally decimated defenseless populations before placing another emperor in power who clearly didn’t help matters. Look at this James Bond villain ganache at the same time.
2. Christopher Columbus the huge bastard (sorry to the fans)
The guy is not only known for having supposedly discovered America while he was trying to go to India (big dick already), but also for having terrorized, reduced to slavery and decimated entire populations. As governor of the Indies, Columbus did not try to establish Catholicism in a peaceful way but preferred, for example, to cut off the ears of a native to dissuade others from complaining about the slavery of which they were victims.
There’s also the time he dumped a poor native woman on his crew to rape her for no reason. Nearly 56 years after his arrival on the island of Hispaniola the population had fallen from 300,000 natives to 500 because of deaths from exhaustion, executions and suicides, it gives you an idea of the fallout that remained in his path. .
3. James Jameson, the guy who fed a kid to cannibals
Grandson of John Jameson, founder of the famous whiskey distillery of the same name, James Jameson loved to travel and draw stuff. In the middle of the colonialist period of the 19th century, he traveled a lot drawing scenes from the daily life of the different peoples he met. It was in 1888 during an expedition to the heart of the Congo that he heard of cannibalism and expressed his desire to draw such a scene.
His guide had therefore gone the next day to a village to “buy” a ten-year-old girl and have her taken before a cannibal tribe to whom it was explained that a gentleman wanted to watch them eat her to draw her. If the story was reported by a witness and we don’t have the possibility to authenticate it 100%, admit that it sends shivers down your spine.
4. Francisco Pizzaro, the one who brought down the Inca Empire
When the conquistadors of Francisco Pizarro arrived for the first time among the Incas in 1527, the exchanges were cordial because the Incas took Pizarro for a representation of their God Viracocha. But the Spaniards brought with them smallpox which began to decimate the local population.
In 1533 Pizarro returned with 180 men and the Incas gave them a friendly welcome, but the Spaniard had other plans than making friends and captured the “god emperor” Atahualpa. They happily massacred the population of several cities to take control of them and when the Incas learned that the emperor was captive they no longer dared to answer for fear that their leader would be killed.
Pizarro fueled conflicts and played the political situation to turn some cities and tribes against others. When he had screwed up enough with the Incas, he demanded that an entire room be filled with gold as a ransom to free Atahualpa. The population agreed to collaborate thinking it would give them back their emperor, but when Pizarro got what he wanted, he had Atahualpa executed and stole the riches before conquering the lands. A nice shit this guy.
5. Ferdinand Magellan not necessarily well seen in the Philippines
If you wear an “I love Ferdinand Magellan” t-shirt in the Philippines you will probably have a hard time and for good reason, the guy measured himself against Lapu-Lapu, one of the national heroes before dying during the fight in the Battle of Mactan. If he wasn’t the most monstrous on the list, Magellan was still a beautiful bastard who wanted to persuade the populations to obey him and change their faith by force and death, a rather counterproductive second option. Some argue that it was the local hero who finally killed Ferdinand, but other theories from historians say that he was stabbed by his own lieutenants. If even his team didn’t like him, that’s a signal.
6. Pedro de Alvarado, the best pupil of Hernan Cortés
When you have had as a mentor and trainer a guy as cruel as Cortés, you inevitably take on some asshole automatisms. The Pedro is therefore considered today as one of the worst conquistadors to have ever existed as he made the natives suffer. But his greatest bitch apart from many various atrocities probably remains the massacre of the temple of Toxcatl. A day like no other De Alvarado decided that he was going to go to the temple of this city and literally massacre everyone for no reason: unarmed men and women but also children and newborns fell under the blows of his soldiers.
7. Hernando de Soto, Calvary in two stages
At the head of one of the first conquistador explorations, De Soto always returned from his many voyages weighed down by his failures. The discovery of mountains of gold he thought he would find never happened, and it was not for lack of trying to butt everyone in his way for information. The native Crusader populations were mostly non-threatening, but in the face of Soto’s violence some began to fight back.
But not content with having killed a lot of people with his men and his weapons, de Soto also added deaths to his account in a more unexpected way: while returning to Spain his crew left several animals on the spot, including pigs that carried parasites to which local populations were not immune, which caused large epidemics.
8. Bonus: Christopher Columbus and the Eclipse Scam (that big bastard again)
While he had been in Jamaica with his crew for six months following a shipwreck, he wanted the Jamaicans to continue to feed and supply his crew, which the latter were beginning to refuse because, well, we must not abuse the hospitality of the people. Rather than walk away politely, Columbus attempted a big fat bluff using a lunar calendar.
He knew that an eclipse was going to take place on February 29, 1504 and he requested a meeting with the chief of the tribe (called the cacique) and told him that basically his God was very angry with the decision of the Jamaicans and that he was going to show his displeasure by conjuring up a moon “fiery with wrath”. When a red moon appeared that evening there was panic.
It was the son of Columbus who described the event by saying that, screaming with fear, the natives brought them food in shambles and implored Columbus to calm his God. He then went to his cabin pretending to go pray (he was actually going to calculate the remaining time of the eclipse) and returned a few minutes before the end to tell them that the God had calmed down. A bluff certainly, but above all a bitch.