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Conquistadors with Michael Wood

The Search for El Dorado (3 of 4) (#103)

Episode three begins in Quito, Ecuador, and relates the amazing story of the16-month Spanish expedition (1541-42), led by Gonzalo Pizarro, to find El Dorado, the mythical land of gold. Crossing the Andes with pack animals, Wood and his team hack a path through the forests, following in Pizarro's footsteps to the Coca river, where they build a balsa raft and sail down to the river Napo, following the route of the conquistadors. [84 minutes] Closed Captioning

This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.

PBS Video

Series Description: One of the most significant events in the history of the world, the conquest of the New World by Spanish conquistadors in just a few years in the 16th century is also one of history's greatest adventures. The opening of the continent involved unparalleled journeys of exploration with exceptional bravery, endurance, greed, cruelty and suffering. Blending history, travel and adventure, CONQUISTADORS follows four of these amazing tales: Cortes' dramatic conquest of the Aztecs in Mexico; Pizarro's overthrow of the Incas in Peru; Orellana's search for El Dorado and the discovery of the Amazon; and Cabeza de Vaca's first crossing of the North American continent.

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  • The Fall of the Aztecs (1 of 4) (#101)

    Host Michael Wood lands on a small island off the coast of Mexico where Hernan Cortes landed in 1519. [75 minutes]

  • The Conquest of the Incas (2 of 4) (#102)

    Six years after the fall of Mexico, the conquistador Francisco Pizarro uncovers another civilization unknown to the European world: the empire of the Incas. [56 minutes]

  • All the World Is Human (4 of 4) (#104)

    In the last segment, the story shifts to the North American continent. In April 1528, 400 conquistadors, dreaming of gold, land in Florida to begin the exploration and conquest of what is now the southern United States. After terrible months of trekking northward, fighting off hostile Indians in the swamps of Florida, they build boats and try to escape to Mexico. Most are never seen again. This is the tale of four survivors shipwrecked on the shores of Texas and in particular that of Alvar Nunez many years later. Living among the Indians of the coast for five years, Cabeza de Vaca finally rejoins the three others; together they embark on an epic walk across America to the Pacific coast, reappearing in Mexico eight years after they were lost. Riding through the north Mexican desert, sleeping at prehistoric campsites and staying in caves with the Tarahumara Indians in the wild gorges by Copper Canyon, Wood travels to the Pacific along ancient Indian trails walked by the Spaniards and visits the spectacular Native- American city of Casas Grandes. Cabeza de Vaca, in a book recounting his adventures, came to identify with the Indians against his fellow Spanish and Christians. At the end of this episode, Wood considers how the message of people like Cabeza de Vaca awakened the conscience of Europe about the brutality of the conquistadors, the justice of the conquest and the rights of the native peoples of the New World. [56 minutes]

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