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Chapter 2: Europeans Encounter the New World: 1492-1600

Lecture to accompany the text The American Promise: A History of the United States Volume I: to 1877
by

Jason Holloway

on 29 October 2015

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Transcript of Chapter 2: Europeans Encounter the New World: 1492-1600

Professor Holloway
Chapter 2: Europeans Encounter the New World, 1492-1600
What does the opening vignette emphasize to us about the following chapter?
Columbus was not the first European to travel to the New World.
Prior to 1492, the East was far more attractive than the West.
Europeans traded extensively with the East for luxury goods.
Risks are encouraged to lower costs and find more effective routes to the East.
Who dominated the Mediterranean end of this trade?
The mid 14th century Black Death radically changes European society, provides basis for future explorations.
1. Europe in the Age of Exploration
Several factors encourage a rise in exploration like the 1450 innovation of the Gutenberg Press.
This permits a rapid diffusion of knowledge continent wide.
By 1400 technology had developed to the point where transoceanic travel is possible.
What were some of these innovations that allowed this to take place?
First to begin exploration was the small nation of Portugal with less than 2% of the population of Europe in 1400.
Between 1415-1460 they dominated the scene and up until 1492 were still the leading party.
The Reconquest provided the immediate impetus for exploration and expansion.
What was the Reconquest?
Prince Henry the Navigator leads the Portuguese charge for exploration.
The Portuguese were looking for easy access to gold, why?
The Portuguese slowly learn the coasts of Western Africa, also discovering the islands of Cape Verde and the Azores.
Their Caravel ships greatly assist in their progress.
What were the Portuguese's main economic interests in Africa?
Their occupation of Cape Verde and the Azores created the origins of the Plantation system.
In 1498, an expedition to India under Vasco da Gama succeeds and a new route is created to the East bypassing the Mediterranean.
This nearly immediately gives the Portuguese a trade monopoly and sets a precedent for future European powers.
2. A Surprising New World in the Western Atlantic
The Portuguese ultimately have little interest in the West.
Christopher Columbus would initiate this quest, what were his ultimate goals?
What is Christopher Columbus's back story?
He believes Asia is 2,500 miles away as opposed to 11,000 miles.
In 1492, he finally wins financing in Spain for his journey.
In 3 ships after 3 months he arrives in the Americas in the Bahamas.
He calls the people there indians due to his misguided ideas of his location, they call themselves Tainos.
What view does he have of the local Tainos?
Columbus puts Spain in an excellent position to lobby for recognition of their territorial finds from the Pope.
What are the arraignments of the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas that the Pope negotiates?
Columbus is later send with larger expeditions to the Americas on multiple occasions.
What happened to the men that he had left in the New World and how did that foreshadow what was to transpire later on?
Ultimately Columbus does not change his beliefs or find gold but nonetheless European mentalities are vastly changed.
A geographic revolution occurs amongst the European intelligentsia.
In 1497 Henry VII of England sends John Cabot to find the Northwest Passage, he lands in Newfoundland.
What was the Northwest Passage and why was it appealing to Europeans?
In 1500, Pedro Alvare Cabral lands in Brazil.
In 1507, the earliest maps list the new discoveries as a new location known as America.
In 1513 Vasco Munez de Balboa crosses the isthmus of Panama and reaches the Pacific.
In 1519 Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigating the globe.
Trip ends relatively poorly but information still is useful to Europeans.
An idea of the Atlantic as a sea bridge develops, which is later conceptualized as the Columbian Exchange.
What was the Columbian Exchange?
What did the Europeans bring over?
What did the Ancient Americans introduce in turn?
Early Spanish exploration find little gold, but this changes radically in 1519.
What discoveries does Spain make that allows them to change these prospects?
Hernan Cortes arrives in Cuba in 1504 at the age of 19 and later prepares a 1519 invasion of newly discovered Mexico.
Along the way in the Yucatan, the Spanish take Malinali/Malinche/ Marina, how do they benefit from encountering her?
3. Spanish Exploration and Conquest
As the Spanish arrived, what was the Aztec perception of them?
Montezuma in the capital of Tenochtitlan led the Aztec side of the encounters.
One of the first encounters amongst the two sides goes extremely poorly, why?
In August 1519, Cortes launches an invasion of Mexico with only 350 men.
By November 1519, he reaches Tenochtitlan and is invited in as guests to a lavish welcoming.
Quickly thereafter, Cortes takes Montezuma as a captive, why?
An assault on the High Temple leads to a massive Aztec revolt.
Montezuma dies in the process and the Spanish are forced out during "la Noche Triste".
During 1520-1521 Cortes reorganizes his forces after retreating to Tlaxcala.
Why do the Tlaxcalans support him alongside other indigenous tribes?
In Spring of 1521 thousands siege the Aztec capital which is destroyed during block by block fighting.
The Spanish are left in complete control of the former Aztec empire.
What were the main factors in the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs?
Spanish conquistadors begin a search for other 'Mexicos'.
Francisco Pizarro finds the Incan Empire in the Andes.
In 1532 he invades with 180 men and takes the Incan Emperor hostage.
The ransom for his release is the equivalent of 50 years of precious metals production in Europe.
The Spanish subsequently murder Atahualpa, advance on his capital of Cusco and take over the Incan Empire.
More attempts are later made to find more wealthy empires, how successful are they?
Juan Ponce de Leon visits Florida in 1513 and 1521.
Parfilo de Narvaez explores the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida.
Hernando de Soto in 1539 leads a large expedition throughout the Southeast.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado searches the Southwest and the Great Plains for riches.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo explores the Pacific coast.
All together the Spanish conclude that these lands have little immediate value, why do they reach that conclusion?
In 1565, Pedro Menendez de Aviles founds St. Augustine, the first permanent settlement in the future United States.
Juan de Onate leads an expedition in 1598 that brings the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico under Spanish control.
Spanish form small settlements eventually in Florida and New Mexico solely to maintain fiction of future territorial claims.
3. A Surprising New World in the Western Atlantic, continued...
For most of the 16th century, Spain is truly the only European power involved in the New World, the others temporarily lose interest.
New Spain and a distinct colonial society forms in the territories of the former Aztec Empire.
Spanish kings institute throughout this phase the policy of the royal fifth, what does this refer to?
Encomienda system forms, how does it work exactly?
Conversion to Christianity is heavily encouraged.
Massive baptisms occur but Indians are seen as quickly reverting to old ways.
Syncretism is really in formation.
The encomieda system emphasizes the most valuable resource of the conquests are not gold but human labor.
The encomienda system is increasingly under attack from people such as Bartolome de las Casas.
Monarchy eventually removes the system and old conquistadors from power.
In 1549 the repartimiento system is formed, how was it different?
Most likely employment option was in silver mining at places such as Potosi.
In general, lives of leisure awaited most Spaniards who emigrated to the Americas, roughly 250,000 during the 16th century.
Mostly men came but increasing number of women too later on.
Small numbers of European women meant significant interracial marriages and more commonly procreation.
A strict social hierarchy forms with Peninsulares, Criollos, at the top, followed by Mestizos, hundreds of other designations, and finally Indians.
Ultimately New Spain helped establish a pattern of New World societies as racially stratified ones.
How do you suppose the indigenous population viewed the Spanish conquest?
Diseases kill most native Americans, roughly 90% overall die in some way or the other.
For them, New Spain is a graveyard.
The rapid destruction of the indigenous population was unwanted by the Spanish who now are forced to start importing african slave labor.
By 1600, 50,000 are imported though again a precedent has been established that will increase with time.
After Ferdinand and Isabella die, Charles V inherits Spain and half of Europe.
New World wealth fuels his ambitions and increases his power.
He also attempts to institute catholic supremacy.
In 1517 Martin Luther starts the Protestant Reformation with his 95 Theses.
How did Martin Luther believe that the Catholic Church should be reformed?
What were the long term results of his efforts?
4. The New World and Sixteenth Century Europe
Charles V and his son Phillip II tries to end Protestantism and uphold Spanish hegemony in Europe with New World gold.
Even so, spending exceeds income and taxes are raised 500% over the 16th century.
Who pays taxes in 16th century Spain?
The country is increasingly impoverished, almost bankrupt, and forced to borrow money extensively.
Interest payments are 2/3 of the annual income of the state.
Vast wealth is ultimately a short term blessing but a long term curse.
Spanish arrogance and wealth creates ambition in other European powers.
France and England constantly war with Spain, attacking its treasure fleets, financing Atlantic wide piracy.
French attempt to found colonies in Quebec in 1535 and 1541 under Jacques Cartier.
English navigators explore much of the rest of the Canadian coast looking for the Northwest Passage.
Walter Raleigh leads an attempt to found a colony on Roanoke Island in North Carolina.
What happens to that colony?
Who benefited the most from discovery in the 16th century?
How influential were the Spanish in the Americas?
How did others try to replicate Spain's success and what problems did they have in doing so?
4. Conclusion: The Promise of the New World for Europeans
Why was exploration increasingly appealing for both explorers and their benefactors?
For monarchs it was also a way to occupy aristocrats or others with pretensions.
Exploration meant fame and fortune for all involved in general.
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