top of page



Captain Keith Plaskett Ecuador

1686 Hack Atlas Treasure Map

Spanish Treasure Ships have fascinated many Archaeologist, Historians, Treasure Hunters and Dreamers for Centuries.

Which one are you?

Captain Keith Plaskett Ecuador

There lies Peru with its riches; Here, Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. Francisco Pizarro

Captain Keith Plaskett Ecuador

That which often Spurs men on to the undertaking of the most difficult Adventures, is the sacred hunger of Gold; and ’twas Gold was the bait that tempted a Pack of merry Boys of us, near Three Hundred in Number, being all Soldiers of Fortune, under Command (by our own Election) of Captain John Coxon, to list our salves in the Service of one of the Rich West Indian Monarchs, the Emperour of Darien or Durian.


Which Country has its Name from a River so called, running into the South Sea, almost a cross the Isthmus , which is between the two formerly Great Empires of Mexico and Peru , and joyns the Northern and Southern America’s 

South Seas Buccaneer’s 1600′s



The story I’m about to tell is true events about Pirates and Treasures Hunters.


I will begin with a brief history of the South Seas Treasure fleet and the Spanish Conquistadors who Conquered the Inca Empire and enslaved the Indians to work the mines and helped to produce the world economy as we know it today. And The English Pirates who conquered the Spanish and controlled the South Seas some 200-300 yrs ago.”


The Spanish were the first Europeans to conquer the Americas, first Panama and then pressing south in search of the Inca Empire and its riches. Admiral Columbus was in search of a new trade route from the west to India. Columbus discovered the Indian Ocean passage in the 15th and half of the 16th century, which lead to maritime trade.




This story is about Francisco Pizzaro an illegitimate baby born in Trujillo City in Spain somewhere around 1471.  “PIZ as I refer to” was left at the doors of the local church and was nursed with pig’s milk to survive. As he grew he was not taught to read or write. Piz as a young boy worked in his village raising pigs. During this time the Spaniards Sprit was eager to explore and seek out the secrets of the new world.  Immigrants left the security of their homes to make the transatlantic crossings in the galleons of their day. The age of chivalry and the romantic adventure stories were reaching the ears of the people of Spain. Stories were told of the Amazon, tropical sandy beaches, flowers, and fruits. Oro (gold) was the biggest lore. The explorers were met with venomous snakes and insects, scorching sun and hunger, yet this still lured the peoples to the fortune to be had in the new world. The Spanish Conquistador was a proud and great warrior whose stories were told and often embellished, the greater the danger the greater the charm. This alone lifted the warrior’s energy. His religion is of that of a crusader however, often times mixed with great cruelty. The new world had to be conquered and colonized.


Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered the South Sea’s when he crossed the Ismas of Panama, he and his group were the first Europeans to set eyes on the Pacific Ocean. Balboa met with an early death so many were in line to step up and continue the conquest.


In the year 1524 Francisco Pizzaro began the quest for the Peruvian empire. Cortez had just conquered Mexico. Rumors of a mighty and wealthy civilization to the south were reaching the ears of the colonist. The first account of Pizzaro in the new world, was in Hispania in 1510, Piz was about 30 years old  when he took part in the expedition  to Terra Firma  under the command of  Alonso de Ojeda. Ojeda was a caviler who served with Cortez. Cortez’s mother was a Pizzaro and was a related to Francisco Pizzaro’s father. Ojeda colonized Terra Ferma and during the first year the colony met with considerable hardships. Ojeda appointed Lt. Pizzaro to command the colony while in his absence. Ojeda sailed back to Santa Domingo for more supplies. Piz was left in charge for two months during which time, most of the colonist perished from disease and hunger. Only a hand full was left upon the return of Ojeda. The remaining Colonist returned to the Island. After this Piz accompanied Balboa on his expedition, which discovered the Pacific Ocean, Piz, worked with the great caviler Balboa to establish the settlement of Darien. Near today’s Caribbean side of the Panama Canal.


Pizzaro attached him self to the fortunes of Pedrarias and was employed by the Governor to led several military expeditions south into the interior in search of the riches of the civilization they had heard so much about in Spain.

The jungle was very dense and hardly passable. The Inca civilization was not to be found near Panama.


In 1515 Pizzaro was selected by the Governor along with another Caviler named Morales to Cross the Isthmus of Panama and traffic trading with the natives. While on the Pacific side of Panama, Piz stood and gazed down the shoreline and mountain range and imagined he conquered The South Seas..

Expeditions to South America 1522

The first attempt to explore western South America was undertaken in 1522 by Pascual de Andagoya. The first native South Americans encountered told him about a gold-rich territory called Virú which was on a river called Pirú (later corrupted to Perú) from which they came.


This is written about the Spanish-Inca mestizo writer Garcilaso de la Vega in his famous Comentarios Reales de los Incas (1609). Andagoya eventually established contact with several Native American curacas (chiefs), of which he later claimed among them were sorcerers and witches. Having reached as far as the San Juan River (part of the present boundary betweenEcuador and Colombia), Andagoya fell very ill and decided to return. Back in Panama, Andagoya spread the news and stories about “Pirú” – a great land to the south rich with gold (the legendary El Dorado).


This, along with the accounts of success of Hernán Cortésin Mexico years before, caught the immediate attention of Pizarro, prompting a new series of expeditions to the south in search of the riches of the Inca Empire. In 1524, while still in Panama, Pizarro entered into a partnership with a priest named Hernando de Luque, and a soldier named Diego de Almagro, for purposes of exploration and conquest towards the south. Pizarro, Almagro and Luque afterwards renewed their compact in a more solemn and explicit manner, agreeing to conquer and divide equally among themselves the opulent empire they hoped to reach.


Pizarro would command the expedition, Almagro would provide the military and food supplies, and Luque would be in charge of the finances and any further provisions needed; they finally agreed to call their enterprise, the “Empresa del Levante“. Historians agree the whole accord of the expeditions among the three was done verbally, since no written document exists to prove otherwise.

First expedition (1524)


On September 13, 1524, the first of three expeditions left from Panama for the conquest of Peru with about 80 men and four horses. Diego de Almagro was left behind to recruit more men and gather more supplies with the intent of soon joining Pizarro. The governor of Panama, Pedro Arias Dávila, at first himself approved of the intent of exploring South America. This first expedition, however, turned out to be utterly unsuccessful, as the conquistadors led by Pizarro sailed down the Pacific and reached no farther than Colombia, where they only encountered various hardships such as bad weather, lack of food and skirmishes with hostile natives, causing Almagro to lose an eye by an arrow-shot. Moreover, the names the Spanish used for the spots they reached only suggest the uncomfortable situation they faced along the way: Puerto deseado (desired port), Puerto del hambre (port of hunger) and Puerto quemado (burned port), off the coast of Colombia. Fearing subsequent hostile encounters like the Battle of Punta Quemada, Pizarro chose to end his first tentative expedition and returned, without any luck, to Panama.


Second expedition (1526)


Two years after the first unsuccessful expedition, Pizarro, Almagro, and Luque started the arrangements for a second expedition with permission from Pedro Arias Dávila. The governor, who himself was preparing an expedition north to Nicaragua, was reluctant to approve of another expedition to the south. The three associates, however, eventually won his trust, and he acquiesced. Also by this time, a new governor, Pedro de los Ríos, was due to take office in Panama and had initially manifested his approval of expeditions to the south.


In August 1526, after all preparations were ready, the second long expedition left Panama with two ships with 160 men and several horses, reaching the San Juan river and much further south than the first time. Soon after arriving the party separated, with Pizarro staying to explore the new and often perilous territory off the swampy Colombian coasts, while the expedition’s second-in-command, Almagro, was sent back to Panama for reinforcements.


Pizarro’s Piloto Mayor (main pilot), Bartolomé Ruiz, continued sailing south and, after crossing the equator, found and captured a balsa raft of natives from Tumbes who were supervising the area. To everyone’s surprise, these carried a load of textiles, ceramic objects, and some much-desired pieces of gold, silver, and emeralds, making Ruiz’s findings the central focus of this second expedition which only served to pique the conquistadors’ interests for more gold and land. Some of the natives were also taken aboard Ruiz’s ship to serve later as interpreters. He then set sail north for the San Juan river, arriving to find Pizarro and his men exhausted from the serious difficulties they had faced exploring the new territory.


Soon Almagro also sailed into the port with his vessel laden with supplies, and a considerable reinforcement of at least eighty recruited men who had arrived at Panama from Spain with the same expeditionary spirit. The findings and excellent news from Ruiz along with Almagro’s new reinforcements cheered Pizarro and his tired followers. They then decided to sail back to the territory already explored by Ruiz and, after a difficult voyage due to strong winds and currents, reached Atacames in the Ecuadorian coast. Here they found a very large native population recently brought under Inca rule. Unfortunately for the conquistadors, the warlike spirit of the people they had just encountered seemed so defiant and dangerous in numbers that the Spanish decided not to enter the land. After much wrangling between Pizarro and Almagro, it was decided that Pizarro would stay at a safer place, the Isla de Gallo, near the coast, while Almagro would return yet again to Panama with Luque for more reinforcements — this time with proof of the gold they had just found and the news of the discovery of an obvious wealthy land they had just explored.


Pedro de los Rios, the new governor, after hearing the news that various men had fallen sick and others died in unknown lands, outright rejected Almagro’s application for a third expedition in 1527. In addition, he ordered two ships commanded by Juan Tafur to be sent immediately with the intention of bringing Pizarro and everyone back to Panama. The leader of the expedition had no intention of returning, and when Tafur arrived at the now famous Isla de Gallo, Pizarro drew a line in the sand, saying: “There lies Peru with its riches; Here, Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian.” Only thirteen men decided to stay with Pizarro and later became known as The thirteen of the fame (“Los trece de la fama”), while the rest of the expeditioners left back with Tafur aboard his ships. Ruiz also left in one of the ships with the intention of joining Almagro and Luque in their efforts to gather more reinforcements and eventually return to aid Pizarro. Soon after the ships left, the thirteen men and Pizarro constructed a crude boat and left nine miles north for La Isla Gorgona, where they would remain for seven months before the arrival of new provisions.


Back in Panama, Pedro de los Rios (after much convincing by Luque) had finally acquiesced to the requests for another ship, but only to bring Pizarro back within six months and completely abandon the expedition. Both Almagro and Luque quickly grasped the opportunity and left Panama (this time without new recruits) for la Isla Gorgona to once again join Pizarro. On meeting with Pizarro, the associates decided to continue sailing south on the recommendations of Ruiz’s Indian interpreters. By April 1528, they finally reached the coast of Tumbes on officially Peruvian soil. Tumbes became the territory of the first fruits of success the Spanish had so long desired, as they were received with a warm welcome of hospitality and provisions from the Tumpis, the local inhabitants. On subsequent days two of Pizarro’s men reconnoitered the territory and both, on separate accounts, reported back the incredible riches of the land, including the decorations of silver and gold around the chief’s residence and the hospitable attentions which they were received with by everyone. The Spanish also saw, for the first time, the Peruvian Llama which Pizarro called the “little camels”. The natives also began calling the Spanish the “Children of the Sun” due to their fair complexion and brilliant armor.


Pizarro, meanwhile, continued receiving the same accounts of a powerful monarch who ruled over the land they were exploring. These events only served as evidence to convince the expedition of the wealth and power displayed at Tumbes as an example of the riches the Peruvian territory had awaiting to conquer. The conquistadors decided to return to Panama to prepare the final expedition of conquest with more recruits and provisions. Before leaving, however, Pizarro and his followers sailed south not so far along the coast to see if anything of interest could be found. Historian William H. Prescott recounts that after passing through territories they named such as Cabo Blanco, port of Payta, Sechura, Punta de Aguja, Santa Cruz, and Trujillo (founded by Almagro years later), they finally reached for the first time the ninth degree of the southern latitude in South America. On their return towards Panama, Pizarro briefly stopped at Tumbes, where two of his men had decided to stay to learn the customs and language of the natives. Pizarro was also offered a native or two himself, one of which was later baptized as Felipillo and served as an important interpreter, the equivalent of Cortés’ La Malinche of Mexico. Their final stop was at La Isla Gorgona, where two of his ill men (one had died) had stayed before. After at least eighteen months away, Pizarro and his followers anchored off the coasts of Panama to prepare for the last and final expedition.


Return to Spain; interview with Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor (Capitulación de Toledo, 1529)


Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Aragon and Castile. When the new governor of Panama, Pedro de los Ríos, had refused to allow for a third expedition to the south, the associates resolved for Pizarro to leave for Spain and appeal to the sovereign in person. Pizarro sailed from Panama for Spain in the spring of 1528, reaching Seville in early summer. 


King Charles V, who was atToledo, had an interview with Pizarro and heard of his expeditions in South America, a territory the conquistador described as very rich in gold and silver which he and his followers had bravely explored “to extend the empire of Castile.”


The King, who was soon to leave for Italy, was impressed at the accounts of Pizarro and promised to give his support for the conquest of Peru. It would beQueen Isabel, however, who, in the absence of the King, would sign the famous Capitulación de Toledo, a document which authorized Francisco Pizarro to proceed with the conquest of Peru. Pizarro was officially named the Governor, Captain General, and the “Adelantado” of the New Castile for the distance of 200 leagues along the newly discovered coast, and invested with all the authority and prerogatives of a viceroy, his associates being left in wholly secondary positions (a fact which later incensed Almagro and would lead to eventual discords with Pizarro). One of the conditions of the grant was that within six months Pizarro should raise a sufficiently equipped force of two hundred and fifty men, of whom one hundred might be drawn from the colonies.


This gave Pizarro time to leave for his native Trujillo and convince his brother Hernando Pizarro and other close friends to join him on his third expedition. Along with him also came Francisco de Orellana, who would later discover and explore the entire length of the Amazon River. Two more of his brothers, Juan Pizarro II and Gonzalo Pizarro, would later decide to also join him. When the expedition was ready and left the following year, it numbered three ships, one hundred and eighty men, and twenty-seven horses. Since Pizarro could not meet the number of men the Capitulación had required, he sailed clandestinely from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda for the Canary Island of La Gomera in January 1530. He was there to be joined by his brother Hernando and the remaining men in two vessels that would sail back to Panama. Pizarro’s third and final expedition left Panama for Peru on December 27, 1530.


Conquest of Peru (1532)


In 1532, Pizarro once again landed in the coasts near Ecuador, where some gold, silver, and emeralds were procured and then dispatched to Almagro, who had stayed in Panama to gather more recruits. Though Pizarro’s main objective was to then set sail and dock at Tumbes like his previous expedition, he was forced to confront the Punian natives in the Battle of Puná, leaving three Spaniards dead and 400 dead or wounded natives. Soon after, Hernando de Soto, another conquistador that had joined the expedition, arrived to aid Pizarro and with him sailed towards Tumbes, only to find the place deserted and destroyed, their two fellow conquistadors expected there had disappeared or died under murky circumstances. The chiefs explained the fierce tribes of Punians had attacked them and ransacked the place. As Tumbes no longer afforded the safe accommodations Pizarro sought, he decided to lead an excursion into the interior of the land and established the first Spanish settlement in Peru (third in South America after Santa Marta, Colombia in 1526), calling it San Miguel de Piura in July 1532. The firstrepartimiento in Peru was established here. After these events, Hernando de Soto was dispatched to explore the new lands and, after various days away, returned with an envoy from the Inca himself and a few presents with an invitation for a meeting with the Spaniards.


Following the defeat of his brother, Huascar, Atahualpa had been resting in the Sierra of northern Peru, near Cajamarca, in the nearby thermal baths known today as the Baños del Inca(Incan Baths). After marching for almost two months towards Cajamarca, Pizarro and his force of just 106 foot-soldiers and 62 horsemen arrived and initiated proceedings for a meeting with Atahualpa. Pizarro sent Hernando de Soto, friar Vicente de Valverde and native interpreter Felipillo to approach Atahualpa at Cajamarca’s central plaza. Atahualpa, however, refused the Spanish presence in his land by saying he would “be no man’s tributary.” UnlikeMoctezuma II, his Aztec counterpart, he knew these men were not gods or divine representatives.Their actions were not those one would expect of such people. His complacency because there were less than 200 Spanish as opposed to his 80,000 soldiers, sealed his fate. According to a leading Peruvian historian as told to Michael Wood in the PBS documentary The Conquistadors, “Atahualpa was planning to have Pizarro for lunch, but Pizarro had him for breakfast.” Atahualpa’s refusal led Pizarro and his force to attack the Incan army in what became the Battle of Cajamarca on November 16, 1532. The Spanish were successful and Pizarro executed Atahualpa’s 12-man honor guard and took the Inca captive at the so-called ransom room. Despite fulfilling his promise of filling one room (22 by 17 feet ) with gold and two with silver, Atahualpa was convicted of killing his brother and plotting against Pizarro and his forces, and was executed by garrote on August 29, 1533. Though this was likely the case, it is apparent that Pizzaro wished to find a reason for executing Atahualpa without angering the people he was attempting to subdue.

Since Pizarro could not write like many of his contemporaries, he used his curlicue signature (“rubrica”) on the left and on the right of his name. Then a writer set the name between them.


A year later, Pizarro invaded Cuzco with indigenous troops and with it sealed the conquest of Peru. During the exploration of Cuzco, Pizarro was impressed and through his officers wrote back to King Charles V of Spain, saying:

“This city is the greatest and the finest ever seen in this country or anywhere in the Indies… We can assure your Majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would be remarkable even in Spain.“

After the Spanish had sealed the conquest of Peru by taking Cusco in 1533, Jauja in the fertile Mantaro Valley was established as Peru’s provisional capital in April 1534. But it was too far up in the mountains and far from the sea to serve as the Spanish capital of Peru. Pizarro thus founded the city of Lima in Peru’s central coast on January 18, 1535, a foundation that he considered as one of the most important things he had created in life.


After the final effort of the Inca to recover Cuzco had been defeated by Almagro, a dispute occurred between him and Pizarro respecting the limits of their jurisdiction. This led to confrontations between the Pizarro brothers and Almagro, who was eventually defeated during the Battle of Las Salinas (1538) and executed. Almagro’s son, also named Diego and known as “El Mozo“, was later stripped of his lands and left bankrupt by Pizarro.

In Lima on June 26, 1541 “a group of twenty heavily armed supporters of young Almagro stormed Pizarro’s palace, assassinated him, and then forced the terrified city council to appoint young Almagro as the new governor of Peru”, according to Burkholder and Johnson.


“Most of Pizarro’s guests fled, but a few fought the intruders, numbered variously between seven and 25. While Pizarro struggled to buckle on his breastplate, his defenders, including Alcántara, were killed. For his part Pizarro killed two attackers and ran through a third. While trying to pull out his sword, he was stabbed in the throat, then fell to the floor where he was stabbed many times.  Pizarro (who now was maybe as old as 70 years, and at least 62), collapsed on the floor, alone, painted a cross in his own blood and cried for Jesus Christ. He died moments after. Diego Almagro the younger was caught and executed the following year.

Pizarro’s remains were briefly interred in the cathedral courtyard; at some later time his head and body were separated and buried in separate boxes underneath the floor of the cathedral. In 1892, in preparation for the anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas, a body believed to be that of Pizarro was exhumed and put on display in a glass coffin. However, in 1977 men working on the cathedral’s foundation discovered a lead box in a sealed niche, which bore the inscription “Here is the head of Don Francisco Pizarro Demarkes, Don Francisco Pizarro who discovered Peru and presented it to the crown of Castile.” A team of forensic scientistsfrom the United States, led by Dr. William Maples, was invited to examine the two bodies, and they soon determined that the body which had been honored in the glass case for nearly a century had been incorrectly identified. The skull within the lead box not only bore the marks of multiple sword blows, but the features bore a remarkable resemblance to portraits made of the man in life.


Pizarro’s legacy


left behind his mestizo children with their mother, Inés Huaillas Yupanqui, daughter of Atahualpa and granddaughter of Huayna Capac, who gave birth to Gonzalo (legitimized in 1537 and died when he was fourteen); by the same woman, a daughter, Francisca. After Pizarro’s death, Inés married a Spanish cavalier named Ampuero and left to Spain, taking her daughter who would later be legitimized by imperial decree. Francisca eventually married her uncle Hernando Pizarro in Spain, on October 10, 1537; a third son of Pizarro, Francisco, by a relative of Atahualpa, who was never legitimized, died shortly after reaching Spain. Historians have often compared Pizarro and Cortés’ conquests in North and South America as very similar in style and career. Pizarro, however, faced the Incas with a smaller army and fewer resources than Cortés at a much greater distance from the Spanish Caribbean outposts that could easily support him, which has led some to rank Pizarro slightly ahead of Cortés in their battles for conquest.


Though Pizarro is well known in Peru for being the leader behind the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, a growing number of Peruvians regard him as a kind of criminal. He is vilified for having ordered Atahualpa’s death despite his paid ransom of filling a room with gold and two with silver which was later split among all of Pizarro’s closest associates.


In the early 1930s, sculptor Ramsey MacDonald created three copies of an anonymous European foot soldier resembling a conquistador with a helmet, wielding a sword and riding a horse. The first copy was offered to Mexico to represent Hernán Cortés, though it was rejected. Francisco Pizarro opened doors for Spanish Religion and culture to become dominant in South America. Since the Spanish conquerors had the same appearance with helmet and beard, the statue was taken to Lima in 1934. One other copy of the statue resides in Wisconsin.


The mounted statue of Pizarro in the Plaza Major in Trujillo, Spain was created by Charles Rumsey an American sculptor. It was presented to the city by his widow in 1926. In 2003, after years of lobbying by indigenous and mixed-raced majority requesting for the equestrian statue of Pizarro to be removed, the mayor of Lima, Luis Castañeda Lossio, approved the transfer of the statue to another location: an adjacent square to the country’s Government Palace. Since 2004, however, Pizarro’s statue has been placed in a rehabilitated park surrounded by the recently restored 17th century pre-hispanic murals in the Rímac District. The statue faces the Rímac River river and the Government Palace.


Next Page

El Captain Keith Plaskett
bottom of page