How Much Do You Know About the Spanish Empire?

By: Robin Tyler
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
How Much Do You Know About the Spanish Empire?
Image: Wiki Commons via Lupo

About This Quiz

The quest to find an alternate route to the East Indies consumed the seafaring nations of Spain and Portugal in the 1400s. 

A route did exist, down south past Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope and then north again, toward the Far East. But something quicker was needed. And so, these nations sent their explorers west in the hope they could discover the East Indies that way.

What they discovered was a new world waiting to be conquered. 

And with that, the Spanish Empire expanded at a massive rate. Sending men west, they began their exploration of Central and South America, meeting a range of tribes in the process. The Spanish were brutal in their dealings with these local people, often performing cruel acts in an attempt to find out the location of gold and other precious metals.

Not all of them, however, went to plunder and steal.

In this quiz, we will test your knowledge of the Spanish Empire in a time when it was one of the fastest growing on the planet. 

Who were the men who led these expeditions? Which ancient nations did they defeat, and what native leaders did they deal with?

Let's see how you fare!


During his first expedition, Columbus traveled on which ship?
Santa Maria
Dromedaris
Reiger
Endeavour
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Santa Maria belonged to a certain Juan de la Cosa and was commandeered for the journey. There were two other ships with Columbus, the Pinta and the Santa Clara (also called the Nina).

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A third ancient nation was the last to fall to the conquistadors. Can you name it?
Inca
Apache
Lakota
Cherokee
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Inca were the final nation to fall to the Spanish. Living in Peru they, were conquered by 1533.

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Which of these is a famous conquistador?
Hernan Cortes
Fabrizio Azzuro
Fernando Albercino
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A minor noble, Hernan Cortes chose the New World as his point of exploration. Cortes was known for his brutality toward the inhabitants of the New World.

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Who was the leader of the Aztecs when Cortes arrived on his expedition?
Montezuma II
Zumar the First
Little Wind
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Montezuma II was the leader of the Aztecs when Hernan Cortes and his men arrived in their territory. He sent them gold as tribute.

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Which nation did he famously defeat during his expedition to the New World?
Apache
Cherokee
Aztec
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Aztecs had a well-established society which saw people arranged in group of city states that traded with each other, formed alliances and even went to war.

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Hernan Cortes, however, is not responsible for defeating the Incas. That was achieved by another conquistador. Can you name him?
Jerónimo de Aliaga
Francisco Cano
Francisco Pizarro
Ambrosius Ehinger
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Francisco Pizarro was responsible for defeating the Inca nation in Peru. Interestingly, he was a distant cousin of Hernan Cortes.

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Translated, what does the name given to them mean?
'The ones who conquer'
'The ones who explore'
''The ones who seek fortune"
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Well they certainly knew what they were going to to New World for, didn't they? And conquer they did ... often with great cruelty.

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In which modern country did this nation live?
Bahamas
Mexico
Brazil
Honduras
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Aztecs were native to Mexico and had lived there from around 1300.

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What tribe, a rival of the Aztecs, supported Cortes in his conquest of them?
Apache
Lakota
Tlaxcaltecas
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

An independent group, the Tlaxcaltecas helped Hernan Cortes overcome the Aztecs. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Tlaxcaltecas and the Aztecs had been at war.

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Name the first Spanish settlement in the New World.
Santo Cristi
Santo Domingo
Santo Madrid
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Santo Domingo was first established in 1496, interestingly, by Christopher Columbus' brother, Diego. This was on the island of Hispaniola.

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What mythical city of gold became the focal point for many conquistadors?
El Dorado
Ciudad de Oro
Ciudad de Amarillo
Ciudad Brillante
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The legend of El Dorado changed over time, but many believed it was a city in the New World which was made of gold. It became the focal point of many conquistador expeditions.

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The inhabitants of the New World were ravaged by diseases the conquistadors brought with them which they had no immunity to. Name one of them?
Malaria
Bilharzia
Smallpox
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Having never had to deal with smallpox before and not having antibodies to fight it, smallpox devastated the local populations in many areas the conquistadors explored

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Which foodstuff are the conquistadors said to have discovered on their conquests?
Lemons
Chocolate
Rosemary
Olives
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Montezuma II, the Aztec leader when Hernan Cortes arrived on his exploration, is said to have sent him gold and chocolate as tribute.

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Although he is not considered a conquistador, this explorer is often credited with discovering America. Who is he?
Prince Henry the Navigator
Alvaro de Mendaña
Amerigo Vespucci
Luis Váezde Torres
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Although Italian, Amerigo Verspucci sailed under the Spanish flag. He is credited with discovering America, the first explorer to do so.

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The discovery of the new world saw many from Spain opt to travel there in search of riches. What collective name were these people given?
Explorador
Guerreros
Conquistadors
Invasors
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Those who chose to seek fame and fortune in the New World were called conquistadors.

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Who did Columbus lobby in Spain to fund his journeys?
Spanish government
Spanish Inquisition
Catholic monarchs of Spain
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Columbus tried to get funding from the Spanish monarchy for a long time before they finally agreed to sponsor his first voyage. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had initially turned him down.

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Another ancient New World nation was defeated by the conquistadors. Name them, please.
Mayan
Aztec
Cherokee
Lakota
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Between 1524 and 1526, the Spanish defeated the Mayan nation, whose people lived in the Yucatan Peninsula.

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By 1515, Spain's explorers had conquered a number of areas in the New World including the island of ________ where the Spanish influence is still seen today.
Bermuda
Cuba
Jamaica
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Yes, the Spanish were a major influence on the island and indigenous people of Cuba, which certainly can still be seen today.

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How much did Inca emperor Atahualpa offer for safe passage from the conquistadors?
1,000 slaves
Trade goods
13,000 pounds of gold and 26,000 pounds of silver
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Incredible but that's what he offered. It is said he filled up a room three times in presenting this gold and silver to the Spanish. It didn't help. He was executed.

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What ocean did the Spanish discover in 1513?
Pacific
Adriatic
Southern
Arctic
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

During their discoveries, the Spanish found the Pacific Ocean. This was found by Vasco Núñez de Balboa.

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Where did Columbus land when traveling west on his first journey?
The coast of Florida
An island in the Bahamas
Brazil
Venezuela
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The first land sighted during the journey and upon which Columbus landed was the Bahamas. It had taken five weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

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Conquistador Juan de la Cosa went on to own Christopher Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria. What is his claim to fame while in the New World?
He discovered guacamole.
As a cartographer by trade, he mapped the areas he explored.
He discovered the Amazon.
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Juan de la Cosa was a cartographer by trade and had even sailed with Columbus. He wanted to map as much of the New World as possible.

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Spain's early explorer was actually Italian. What was his name?
Prince Henry the Navigator
Christopher Columbus
Diogo de Silves
Marco Polo
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Although he was Italian, Christopher Columbus was an excellent seafarer, trained in Portugal. He helped discover the new world while looking for an alternate way to the East Indies.

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The first real stable settlement in continental America, however, was only established in 1510. Name it, please.
Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Ciudad Bilboa
Ciudad Malaga
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Established in 1510, Santa María la Antigua del Darién gave the Spanish a solid base from which to accelerate their expansion of the New World.

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Spanish influence soon spread to other areas throughout South America. Which country did they NOT colonize?
Venezuela
Brazil
Chile
Columbia
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Once they had dispatched with the three major nations in the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs, Spanish forces quickly advanced through the rest of South America except Brazil.

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Spain, along with what other seafaring nation, were the leaders in exploration in the 16th century?
Portugal
France
England
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Portugal was the world's foremost seafaring nation at the time, with Spain eager to follow their neighbors in the finding and conquest of new lands.

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It wasn't all death and destruction from the conquistadors, however. Francisco de Orellana is credited with an incredible act of endurance. What was it?
He sailed to the southmost point of South America.
He navigated the full length of the Amazon River.
He discovered the Pacific Ocean.
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A seriously impressive feat, Francisco de Orellana navigated the Amazon during 1541 and 1542.

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What was the conquistadors' chosen method of torture? This was often used to get the locals to tell them where to find gold.
Burn the soles of their feet.
Waterboarding
Whippings
The rack
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

That's got to hurt! I would have told them where the gold is in a flash!

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How many journeys did Columbus undertake sailing west?
1
6
4
19
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Christopher Columbus undertook four journeys to the west. These were in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502.

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The new land was called __________ by Columbus.
Pequeña España
San Salvador
Nueva España
España occidental
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Columbus immediately claimed the land for Spain, calling it San Salvador

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What does the name chosen by Columbus for the new land actually mean?
Mother Mary
East Indies
The New Land
Holy Savior
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While the local people called the island Guanahani, the name San Salvador, chosen by Columbus, meant Holy Savior.

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Juan Diaz de Solis was the conquistador who discovered what is now modern day Uruguay. He could not enjoy his discovery, however, because ________
He died of a heart attack.
He died of scurvy.
He was eaten by the locals.
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Whether this story is true remains up for debate. He was killed by either the Charrúa or Guarani indians. The Guarani were know to practice cannibalism.

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What reason stopped them from conquering the country?
Brazil was uninhabitable at the time.
The Amazon rainforest
Hostile tribes
Portugal had already colonized the country.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

And still today, while all South American countries speak Spanish, Brazil speaks Portuguese. They had arrived in Brazil in 1500 under the command of Pedro Alvares Cabral.

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Which food stuff did the conquistadors bring back from the Aztecs that we still eat today?
Apples
Oranges
Bananas
Guacamole
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Guacamole, which we still love today, was an Aztec dish. It was thought to be an aphrodisiac by the Spanish.

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How did the conquistadors manage to overcome the odds in terms of numbers in defeating the tribes of the New World?
Cavalry
Superior tactics
Armor
None of the above
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Some would argue that early primitive guns were the reason the conquistadors were successful. Although they certainly played a part, they were very slow to load. The secret of the Spanish success was armor. The weapons of the locals struggled to pierce it.

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Wiki Commons via Lupo