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Conquistadors with Michael Wood Previous Broadcasts

The Conquest of the Incas (Episode #102)

KQED Life: Thu, Sep 21, 2017 -- 8:00 PM

Six years after the fall of Mexico, the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, exploring south of the equator, uncovers another civilization unknown to the European world: the empire of the Incas, which extended 3,000 miles from Ecuador to Chile. Michael Wood recounts Pizarro's daring march into Peru with fewer than 200 men and tells the almost incredible tale of his capture of the Inca Atuahuallpa and his promise to ransom himself with a roomful of gold. Traveling across the Peruvian desert along ancient Inca roads, Wood climbs the Andes with a train of llamas, continues to the ancient city of Cuzco, the Incas' "navel of the earth," where massive Inca buildings still stand, and to the stupendous Sacred Valley ruins, including Macchu Picchu. Telling the story of the Inca resistance, and using Inca accounts discovered only in modern times, Wood journeys on over the passes of the high Andes, up 17,000-foot glaciers and finally down into tropical rainforests on an epic trek to the lost city of the Incas, their last refuge, at Vilcabamba, which was identified only 30 years ago.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED Life: Fri, Sep 22, 2017 -- 2:00 AM

The Fall of the Aztecs (Episode #101)

KQED Life: Thu, Sep 14, 2017 -- 8:00 PM

The first program tells the story of the conquest in 1519-21 of the Aztec empire in Mexico by Hernan Cortes and 500 Spanish conquistadors. Michael Wood follows the path of gambler and womanizer Cortes from his home in Spain to the Mayan pyramids on the shores of the Yucatan, on through the tropical forests of Tabasco to the snow-capped volcanoes of Mexico. Trekking over the mountains in torrential storms, Wood considers how a small band of Spanish adventurers could overthrow an empire of millions, and why the Aztec ruler Montezuma could have believed the Spanish were gods. In modern Mexico City, Wood pieces together the climax of the tale, using dramatic and little-known Aztec eyewitness accounts of the final battle between the Spanish and Aztec armies, a battle that changed the course of history. Before the only surviving portrait of Cortes painted from life, Wood returns to the riddle of the gambler who achieved his dream but in the process destroyed a civilization.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED Life: Fri, Sep 15, 2017 -- 2:00 AM
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