Archive for the ‘Conquistadora’ Category

Main Characters in Conquistadora

It was rollicking fun to write the second novel in my conquest trilogy, Conquistadora.  Beatriz and Isabel are two fun-loving, feisty women who share adventures in the long march with the Spanish army of conquest. In my research into the history of the Spanish conquest of the Incas, I stumbled upon a tidbit of information, that little pearl that can inspire a writer to weave a work of fiction upon that little fact. I learned that two women named Beatriz and Isabel accompanied Diego de Almagro’s army when his ship landed on the coast of Peru in 1532. Records give the last name of Isabel as Rodriguez, but Beatriz’s surname was unknown. Almagro’s army joined Francisco Pizarro at Cajamarca and the two captains led the expedition through the Andes Mountains to Cuzco, the Inca capital. Because of Isabel’s pluck, the men nicknamed her La Conquistadora. Beatriz was called La Morisca, apparently because she was of Muslim descent from southern Spain.  In my novel I give Isabel a different surname and invent one for Beatriz, who becomes the conquistadora of my title.

Imagining how these adventuresses came to accompany the expedition, their relationship, and eventual fate in the New World fueled my story.  Writing it was my adventure, which I always approached with delight, eager to concoct another adventure for one of my two camp followers.  I wanted to tell the story of the conquest from the viewpoint of two lower-class Spanish women, brassy and bold, who could lampoon the arrogance and brutality of the conquistadors while using them for their own purposes.  Because the Spanish nobility had scorned and abused them, they sympathize with the conquered Incas and defend the native women.  Beatriz is a picaresque figure, living by her wits, and finagling to be the lady she could never be in Spain.  Isabel, the older of the two women, assumes a motherly role towards Beatriz and provides a counterpoint in some ways to Beatriz’s ambition. I love these two women and I hope my readers will too.