I had planned to blog about “Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey”, Series II this week but I think most of our Downton Abbey viewers already know the saga continues with series II on Sunday night.  So I decided instead to focus on the documentary series that will air just prior to “Masterpiece Classic” for the next four weeks; “Conquistadors with Michael Wood“.

Conquistadors with Michael Wood“  tells the story of the conquest of the Aztec empire in 1519-21 by Hernan Cortes and 500 Spanish conquistadors.  I studied the Spanish language in high school and college.  I was fortunate enough to have teachers that not only concentrated on teaching us the language they also spent time teaching us about the culture and history of Spain and Mexico.  I was fortunate to be able to travel to both countries during this time and experience the things I had been taught.  You don’t study Mexican history without spending  quite a bit of time on Hernan Cortes and the conquistadors of Spain.

Michael Wood tells us the story of the gambler and womanizer Cortes as he travels from his home in Spain to the Mayan pyramids on the shores of the Yucatan, and on through the tropical forests conquering the Aztecs.  Wood, and I would imagine we the viewer, wonder why the great Aztec ruler, Montezuma would have believed the Spanish were gods. So Wood pieces together  the story for us, using dramatic and little-known Aztec eyewitness accounts of the final battle between the Spanish and Aztec armies.

In part two of the series a new conquistador arrives on the scene, Francisco Pizarro.  His small group of men stumble across an unknown civilization and find the empire of the Incas.  Michael Wood recounts Pizarro’s march into Peru with fewer than 200 men and tells of his capture of the Inca Atuahuallpa and his promise to ransom himself with a roomful of gold.  Shot through the Peruvian desert and into the Andes, Wood gives us the story of  the Inca resistance and a magnificent look at their last refuge Vilcabamba.

This a a good look at the story of the conquistadors and their search for riches in the new world.  If you can’t watch all four parts live be sure to set your DVR  for a look later.  If you want a little taste of Mexico before “Conquistadors” tune in at 7:00pm for “Mexico: The Royal Tour.”

Conquistadors with Michael Wood  begins Sunday, January 8 at 8:00pm on WOSU TV with an encore presentation Monday night’s at 8:00pm on WOSU PLUS.