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Chapter 1 Essay-Spanish Colonization

Chapter 1 Essay-Spanish Colonization



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Published by chewie14
Brief analysis of Spanish colonization in the Americas and their extent of a huge empire.
Brief analysis of Spanish colonization in the Americas and their extent of a huge empire.

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Published by: chewie14 on Sep 28, 2008
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Spanish Colonization in the New World
The Spanish established an extensive and elaborate empire in the Americas, covering the entire westerncoast of South America, all of Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of the United States, including New Mexico and Florida. This colossal domain took years of effort and endeavor to colonize and establish astructured system. Prior to the 15
century, the Spanish were completely unaware of the fact that a wholehemisphere of the world lay uncovered. Eventually, exposure to this New World came through indirect discoveries,leading up to direct contact, in which the Spanish colonized and built a massive overseas kingdom. Manytechnologies and devices were utilized in finding this New World, which proved to be invaluable for seafarers andexplorers alike. Several notable individuals are credited for their very useful contributions to the development of theSpanish Empire. Numerous strategies and tactics were employed, each with the sole intention of sculpting amagnificent empire, hoping to generate enormous profit and power. This colonization resulted in immediate andindirect consequences for the New World and Europe, as well as Africa. International economies were modified,social cultures were integrated together, and political structures and beliefs were altered. Spanish empire-building inthe Americas indefinitely impacted the way of life for everyone.Civilization in the New World emerged when nomadic tribes followed herds of game across the land bridgeconnected Asia and North America. This bridge is now submerged in the waters of the Bering Sea, and was onlyaccessible during the Great Ice Age. Although these tribes had occupied the Americas ever since, the Europeansremained completely oblivious of this whole side of the world. The first Europeans to come into contact with theseland masses were the Vikings, or Norsemen, who landed in Newfoundland, or Vinland in A.D. 1000. Returning toEurope and leaving record only in songs and sagas, they did not inform the rest of Europe, and therefore received nocredit for their discovery. During the Crusades, Christian crusaders were exposed to the riches of the East, whiletrying to reclaim the Holy Land. These exotic products were incredibly tempting, and estimating their value,European merchants were lured into seeking access to Asia to get their hands on these goods.Other temptations to find a route to the East included hearing the tales of Marco Polo. This Europeanseafarer had supposedly reached the East, and described in great detail the magnificence and sophistication of Asiancivilizations. The grandeur and splendor of these Eastern cultures drew the attention of many Europeans and peakedtheir curiosity. Initially, the only trade that occurred between European and the East was established mainlyoverland. European merchants had to make difficult and lengthy journeys, only to be taxed by Muslim middlemen.After returning to Europe to sell these products, they hardly generated much profit. Thus, an all-water route would prove simpler and cheaper than overland trade. After several attempts, the Portuguese, armed with their extensiveseafaring knowledge and technology, managed to find access to the East. Bartholomeau Dias sailed along thewestern coast of Africa and down to the Cape of Good Hope. However, turbulent winds and raging waters forced thePortuguese sailor to turn back.After ten years, Vasco de Gama successfully sailed along Africa’s coast and rounded the southern tip,finding an all-water route to Asia. By monopolizing an extensive and elaborate trading empire, the Portuguesegenerated enormous profit from the rare and exotic Asian products. Watching the neighboring country and itsimmense success, the envious Spanish nation sought to rival Portugal by finding their own route to Asia. Occupiedat the moment fighting the Muslim Moors, Spain did not have the resources, nor the stability, to fund seafaring
expeditions. Only after two powerful sovereigns rose to power and expelled the Muslims after years of warfare, theSpanish were glorified in unity. Reemploying stability in the nation, the Spanish focused their attention onexploration, eager to rival the Portuguese.Christopher Columbus, an Italian seafarer, was neglected by many communities Europe, includingPortugal, Genoa, and Venice. After being turned by those countries, Columbus sought funding from Henry VII of England. After hesitating to give Columbus his funding, the sailor went to Isabella and Ferdinand who granted himships after much debate. It was only then the King Henry accepted Columbus’ request, but he was too late – Columbus had already committed himself to Spain. Given three small ships and an inexperienced crew, the Spanishrulers did not expect to see him again. After years of waiting, Columbus finally set out on his voyage. Applying thefact that the Earth was spherical, he brilliantly hypothesized that he would reach the East if he sailed far enough tothe west. Columbus had constructed a nearly flawless theory, with the exception of one fact: there were two landmasses obstructing his path, a whole new side of the world that was completely unknown to Europe.Several technologies aided Columbus, as well as future explorers, in finding their way through the vast sea.The compass was an invaluable device that showed what direction you were traveling. Combined with the astrolabe,which indicated position, the compass and astrolabe allowed seafarers to formulate maps and charts of the NewWorld. The caravel was a ship with a triangular sail that manipulated wind patterns to better navigate the waters.Sailing for nearly two whole months, the crew became mutinous and near the point of a rebellion. Relief overtook Columbus when he finally spotted the first sign of land. Thinking he reached the East, Columbus proclaimed the Natives as Indians, and was amazed to see how different this world was compared to Europe. Leaving 39 men behind, Columbus set out to return to Spain, but not without “escorting” some of the Natives back. These Nativesleft quite an impression on the Spanish rulers, and intrigued by their pricey jewels, Spain sent a countless number of explorers and conquistadores to claim and conquer the land, beginning the rise of the Spanish Empire.Colonization in this New World was primarily based on military-style conquest. Conquistadores controlledhighly skilled soldiers, and their superior technology and weaponry made it possible to crush any Indian resistance.Some notable individuals must be credited for conquering highly complex civilizations and empires. With sixteenfresh horses, several hundred soldiers, and eleven ships, Hernan Cortes marched for the Aztec empire. On his way,he rescued a Spanish cast-away and a female Indian slave, Malinche. He now possessed two invaluable interpreters,who revealed to him the Aztec’s internal conflict and unrest. Vera Cruz was Cortes’ final stop, where he organizedhis attack and gathered s force of some twenty thousand Indian allies. With his intention boldly set in mind, Cortes proceeded to the Aztec’s capital of Tenochtitlan. The Aztec chieftain made a foolish mistake when he embracedCortes as a god, which was basically signing his own death warrant. The empire was doomed to fall. After realizinghis true intentions, Moctezuma launched an attack on the
noche triste
. Although forced to retreat, Cortes laid siege tothe capital, and eventually it crumbled apart. Disease swept through the empire and casualties remained high on bothsides. The Aztec empire had fallen to the Spanish, and this devastation was only the first to come.Francisco Pizarro was another conquistador, who is noted for conquering the Incan Empire, located inSouth America. These, among many other conquests, extended Spanish rule in the Americas from South America allthe way into present-day United States. Spanish territory included the western portion of South America, all of Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of New Mexico and Florida. This extensive colonization of the New World obviously impacted both sides – the Natives and Europeans, or more specifically Spanish. The economic

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