conquistador (kŏnkwĬs´tədôr, Span. kōng-kē´stäŧħôr´), military leader in the Spanish conquest of the New World in the 16th cent. Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, and Hernán Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico, were the greatest of the conquistadors. The name is frequently used to mean any daring, ruthless adventurer.
See P. Horgan, Conquistadors in North American History (1963); F. A. Kirkpatrick, The Spanish Conquistadores (2d ed. 1967).