Episode 13 – A Voice Crying Out In the Wilderness

In this episode, we discuss the remarkable life and career of Fray Bartolome de las Casas, Protector of the Indians. We also talk about the debate over the humanity of the Indians, a debate which roiled the intellectuals of Spain and beyond. With a clearer picture of Las Casas’s life and the Dominican campaign for the amelioration of the Indians’ plight, the stage is set for next episode’s recounting of Fray Luis Cancer’s tragic attempt to convert the Floridian natives.

Episode 12 – What Goes Around, Comes Around

A meandering episode for a meandering expedition. This episode covers the expedition of Hernando de Soto, the next in our inglorious series of conquistadors who had tried and failed to tame the North American Continent. Basically, he and his expedition wandered for four years in circles through what is now the states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. Eventually, after having realized that he failed, de Soto pretty much curled up and died. The greatest legacy of the expedition was their introduction of pigs to the United States.

Episode 11 – Cabeza de Vaca

In this episode we relate the tragic story of Panfilo de Narvaez’s expedition to Florida and the horrible fate which overtook his men. We also discuss the remarkable survival of two characters connected with the expedition – Juan Ortiz, taken captive by the vindictive Ucita, Chief of Hirrihigua, as well as the far more famous Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who literally walked his way to freedom, across deserts and in spite of a deck stacked against him. Enjoy!

Episode 10 – Spanish Scramble

In this episode, we explore the rivalries and jockeying of the Caribbean conquistadors, who each wished to take their own slice of territory on the mainland. We begin with Diego Velasquez and Francisco de Garay, whose explorations and claims became a serious threat to Ponce de Leon’s hold on Florida. After detouring a bit to finish Garay’s storyline, we return to Ponce de Leon and his second, fatal expedition of 1521. We conclude the episode with a recounting of Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon’s attempt to colonize the coast of the Carolinas, and the fate which befell the first European colony in the United States: San Miguel de Guadaloupe. By 1527 anyone who had a claim on America was dead, leaving the land open for anyone who dared come and take it for himself. Next episode, it will be Panfilo de Narvaez’s turn to take a shot at American colonization…

Episode 9 – Into Bimini

We finally touch the soil of what is now the United States! In this episode we discuss Juan Ponce de Leon and his first voyage to Florida (1513). We also wade into the historical controversies whether or not Ponce de Leon actually discovered Florida and was he really searching for the Fountain of Youth? We also discuss the importance of his lesser known and less romantic discovery – the Gulf Stream.

Episode 8 – Broken Spears

After recuperating for a month in Tlaxcala, Cortes is ready to resume the offensive. He ravages Tepeaca and prepares his forces for the final assault on Tenochtitlan. When that assault comes, it spells the end of a once magnificent city.
“…And the giants greeted each other thus: ‘Do not fall down, for whoever falls, falls forever.'”

Episode 7 – Swan Song

Cortes splits his force to deal with Pamfilo de Narvaez, sent by Governor Velasquez to take over his expedition and hang him. He triumphs, only to receive word of an unfolding disaster back in Tenochtitlan. A Spanish atrocity had ocurred, and now the Aztecs were clamoring for vengeance. Montezuma dies, and the Spaniards are ejected from Tenochtilan on “The Melancholy Night” with severe losses. The Spaniards manage to stumble back to Tlaxcala to recover from this defeat. Now, just a month later, their armies march again…

Episode 6 – The Lion and the Eagle

Cortes heads over to Cholula, where an Aztec conspiracy leads to a bloodbath. Following this, Cortes moves on to Tenochtitlan itself, where he is received with great honors. It is not long before he takes Montezuma prisoner and has him swear fealty to Charles V. The Spanish accumulate a vast amount of treasure and all is well. Or so it seems…

Episode 5 – Divide and Conquer

Cortes is quite a wily character. This episode, he breaks free of Velasquez’s control, founds a city, liberates the Totonacs, defeats and then befriends the Tlaxcalans, and utterly mystifies Montezuma and the Aztecs. If you want to see how 4D chess is really played, just look at Cortes.