STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
13 The Great Voyages of Exploration and Early Colonization
IN THIS CHAPTER
Summary: In the fifteenth century, a more secular and ambitious culture emerged as European nations began to explore and exploit new areas of the globe, including Africa, the Americas, and the East. This chapter describes the growth of global trade, the establishment of European colonies in new regions of the world, and the severe stress on the traditional economic and social organization of Europe caused by the new sources of wealth and power.
Spice trade The importation of spices from Asia into Europe, revived during the Renaissance. The need to find shorter, more efficient routes gave impetus to the great voyages of exploration of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Haciendas The large estates that produced food and leather goods for the mining areas and urban centers of the Spanish Empire in the New World.
Encomiendas Lands given to conquering soldiers as a reward for service to the Spanish monarchs. In return for Christianizing, educating, and providing food, shelter, and other necessities to conquered natives, encomenderos received tribute and labor from those placed in their care and under their protection.
Triangular Trade Networks The system of interconnected trade routes that quadrupled foreign trade in both Britain and France in the eighteenth century.
The Middle Passage The leg of the triangular trade networks in which African slaves were transported in brutal conditions across the Atlantic Ocean on European trade ships.
Plantations The large estates in the West Indies, which produced sugar for export to Europe.
Mercantilism Economic theory that held that money (gold and silver, especially) is the only form of wealth. Mercantilism led to the quashing of any incipient industry in colonized areas, leaving economic control strictly in the hands of the colonizer.
The Catholic Kings (Ferdinand and Isabella)
Prince Henry the Navigator
Bartolomeo de las Casas
Around the middle of the fifteenth century, European civilization began to recover from a series of calamities that had destroyed much of the culture that characterized the High Middle Ages. What emerged was a more secular, ambitious culture that began to explore and exploit new areas of the globe, including Africa, the Americas, and the East, thanks in large part to technological advances in navigation (the compass being perhaps the most notable), cartography, and weaponry. The influx of trade, wealth, and new cultural influences put severe stress on the traditional economic and social organization of Europe.
Exploration and Expansion
The marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 united two previously unruly Spanish kingdoms. With the resources of the joint kingdoms at their disposal, Isabella and Ferdinand increased Spain’s power first, by completing the reconquista, or definitively retaking the Iberian peninsula from the Moors (1492) and uniting the Kingdom of Spain, and second, by promoting overseas exploration. They sponsored the voyages of the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus, who, sailing west in 1492 in search of a shorter route to the spice markets of the Far East, reached the Caribbean, thereby “discovering” a “New World” for Europeans and setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to the establishment of a Spanish Empire in Mexico and Peru.
Spain was not alone in the fifteenth century in sponsoring seafaring exploration. The Portuguese prince Henry the Navigator sponsored Portuguese exploration of the African coast. By the end of the fifteenth century, Portuguese trading ships were bringing in gold from Guinea. Soon, European powers came to understand that there was also gold to be had in the selling of spices imported from India that were used both to preserve and flavor food. The search for gold and competition for the spice trade combined to inspire an era of daring exploration and discovery:
• In 1487, Bartholomew Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, thereby opening Portuguese trade routes in the East.
• In 1498, Vasco da Gama extended Portuguese trade by reaching the coast of India and returning with a cargo that earned his investors a 60 percent profit.
• The Portuguese formed trading colonies in Goa and Calcutta on India’s Malabar Coast.
• Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian sailing for Spain in 1499 and for Portugal in 1501, helped to show that the lands discovered by Columbus were not in the Far East, but rather a new continent, which the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller dubbed “America” in his honor.
• In 1519, Hernán Cortés landed at what is today Veracruz in Mexico and began the conquest of the Aztec Empire; this would be the beginning of more than 300 years of Spanish domination in the New World. Also in 1519, a Spanish expedition led by the Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan sailed west in search of a new route to the Spice Islands of the East. Rounding the tip of South America in 1520, the expedition sailed into the Pacific Ocean and arrived at the Spice Islands in 1521. In 1522, the expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the globe, returning to Spain without Magellan, who had been killed in the Philippines.
Exploration and colonization were made possible in no small way thanks to technological advances. Until the Portuguese development of the caravel (1450s), ships used for exploration and trade were primarily a kind of barge that was difficult to control and limited in navigational prowess. The caravel incorporated more masts, used lateen sails to increase maneuverability, and made speed and power the elements by which the Spaniards and Portuguese were able to carry out trade and exploratory missions. The use of guns and horses in warfare, while not precisely new, gave European colonizers of the New World a decided and obvious advantage over cultures that had neither.
The Spanish Empire in the New World
Spain led the way in exploiting the economic opportunities of the New World. The process of exploitation got underway in 1519, when Hernán Cortés landed on the coast of what is now Mexico with 600 troops. Soon thereafter, Cortés marched on the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán and imprisoned their leader, Montezuma. By 1521, the Aztecs were defeated, and the Aztec Empire was renamed New Spain.
In 1531, Francisco Pizarro landed on the western coast of South America with 200 well-armed men and proceeded into the highlands of what is now Peru to encounter and conquer the Inca civilization. By 1533, the Incas were subdued. Internal divisions within the conquering force initially made conquest difficult, but by the late 1560s, effective control by the Spanish Crown was established.
The major economic components of the Spanish Empire in the New World, based on the ideas espoused in mercantilism, included the following:
• Mining, primarily silver from Peru and northern Mexico that was exported to Spain
• Agriculture, through large landed estates called haciendas, which produced food and leather goods for the mining areas and urban centers of the New World, and plantations in the West Indies, which produced sugar for export
A second source of agricultural products, mainly for local consumption, can be traced to the establishment of the encomienda. This system would also prove race and ethnicity to be the primary determinants of political and economic power.
The encomienda derived from the Spanish practice, initiated during the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, of giving soldiers lands and entrusting them with Christianizing those Moors who remained. The system was modified under the so-called New Laws of the Indies (1546). Subsequently, natives could not be forced into personal service or domestic servitude, though encomenderos could still collect tribute. Some encomiendas evolved into large estates that were maintained until well into the nineteenth century.
One side effect was the reinforcement of social strata. Society was labeled according to ethnic, national, and racial criteria and divided into four main classes:
• Peninsulares, colonists born in Spain of Spanish parents, held the highest social and political (and, as a result, economic) positions in the New World.
• Criollos (Creoles), colonists born in the New World of European parents. Well educated and financially secure, criollos could hold a limited number of positions, but never those at the top of the political or social ladders. Eventually, they would be among the organizers of colonial independence movements.
• Mestizos, those with European and native ancestry, were further limited in what they could do and what rights they held.
Mulatos (Mulattos), people of mixed European and African ancestry. Along with the Mestizos, Mulattos, as well as slaves, occupied the lowest political and social position in Spanish-American society.
In both the mining and the agriculture sectors, ownership was in the hands of Spanish-born or Spanish-descended overlords, while labor was coerced from the native population. Native populations could not, however, be enslaved unless taken as captives in a “just war”; this in turn led to the importation of African (black) workers, who could be enslaved, especially in plantation economies.
The establishment of an exploitative foreign empire in the New World had several lasting results on the civilizations of the New World, particularly in Central and South America:
• The establishment of Roman Catholicism in the New World
• The establishment of economic dependence between the New World and Europe
• The establishment of a European-style hierarchical social structure in the cultures of the New World
It also had lasting effects on Spain and, eventually, the rest of Europe:
• A steady rise in prices, eventually produced inflation, due to the increase in available wealth and coinage
• An eventual rise of a wealthy merchant class that sat uneasily in the traditional feudal social structure of Europe
• Raised expectations for quality of life throughout the social structure of Europe
England, France, and the Triangular Trade Networks
By 1600, England and France were endeavoring to form their own colonies in the New World. They founded settler colonies in North America through the formation of joint stock companies (which allowed private investment combined with investment by the Crown). These colonies soon thrived, initially with considerable help from, and later at the expense of, the indigenous populations.
In the eighteenth century, England and, to a lesser extent, France surpassed Spain, Portugal, and Holland as the dominant economic powers in Europe and in the New World. They did so by controlling the majority of the increasingly lucrative Triangular Trade Networks that connected Europe to Africa and the Americas. The phrase “Triangular Trade Networks” refers to a system of interconnected trade routes that quadrupled foreign trade in both Britain and France in the eighteenth century. Here are three characteristics of the Triangular Trade Networks:
• Manufactured goods (primarily guns and gin) were exported from Europe to Africa.
• Slaves were exported to serve as labor in European colonies in North America, South America, and the Caribbean.
• Raw materials (especially furs, timber, tobacco, rice, cotton, indigo dye, coffee, rum, and sugar) were exported from the colonies to Europe in exchange for slaves and manufactured goods.
Before the eighteenth century, the primary destination of Africans taken into slavery by their rivals had been either the Mediterranean basin or Asia. The eighteenth-century expansion of the European colonies greatly increased the demand for African slaves and reoriented the slave trade to the West. The majority of slaves were destined for the West Indies and Brazil, with about 10 percent going to colonies in North America. The transportation of African slaves across the Atlantic Ocean on European trade ships was known as “the Middle Passage.” As many as 700 slaves per ship were transported, chained below deck in horrific conditions. It is estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 Africans were transported each year during the height of the eighteenth-century slave trade.
Questions 1—3 refer to the following passage:
The great city of Tenochtitlan is built on the salt lake. . . . [C]onsidering that these people were barbarous, so cut off from the knowledge of God and other civilized peoples, it is admirable to see to what they attained in every respect. . . .
It happened . . . that a Spaniard saw an Indian . . . eating a piece of flesh taken from the body of an Indian who had been killed. . . . I had the culprit burned, explaining that the cause was his having killed the Indian and eaten him which was prohibited by Your Majesty, and by me in Your Royal name. I further made the chief understand that all the people . . . must abstain from this custom . . . I came . . . to teach them that they were to adore but one God . . . that they must turn from their idols, and the rites they had practiced until then, for these were lies and deceptions which the devil . . . had invented. . . . I, likewise, had come to teach them that Your Majesty, by the will of Divine Providence, rules the universe, and that they also must submit themselves to the imperial yoke, and do all that we who are Your Majesty’s ministers here might order them.
Hernán Cortés, Letters to Charles V, King of Spain, 1521
1. Cortés saw the people of Tenochtitlán in what way?
A. As more technologically advanced than the Spanish
B. As disadvantaged by the absence of Christianity in their culture
C. As ready to convert to Christianity
D. As morally superior to Europeans
2. From the passage, Cortés maintained which of the following points of view?
A. He believed that God had chosen him to conquer the people of Tenochtitlán.
B. He doubted the morality of his mission in the New World.
C. He believed that the Spanish had complete authority over the people of Tenochtitlán.
D. He intended to set himself up as the God of the people of Tenochtitlán.
3. From the passage, which of the following best informs the conqueror’s goals?
A. Cortés intended to impose the laws of Christianity and Spain on the people of Tenochtitlán.
B. Cortés intended to exterminate the people of Tenochtitlán.
C. Cortés’s main mission was to educate the people of Tenochtitlán.
D. Cortés thought that the people of Tenochtitlán were devil worshipers and needed to be converted to Christianity.
Chapter Question (Change and Continuity)
4. Briefly explain TWO ways in which Spanish colonization changed life in the New World.
Answers and Explanations
1. B is correct because the passage indicates that Cortés was impressed by the technical accomplishments of the people of Tenochtitlán, despite their “barbarous” state, “so cut off from the knowledge of God.” A is incorrect because nothing in the passage indicates that Cortés saw the people of Tenochtitlán as more advanced than the Spanish. C is incorrect because nothing in the passage indicates that Cortés saw the people of Tenochtitlán as “ready to convert” to Christianity. D is incorrect because the passage indicates that Cortés saw the people of Tenochtitlán as morally inferior to Europeans.
2. C is correct because both Cortés’s willingness to outlaw the eating of flesh and to order the natives to turn away from idols indicate that Cortés believed that he had complete authority over the people of Tenochtitlán. A is incorrect because there is nothing in the passage that indicates that Cortés believed that he had been personally chosen by God. B is incorrect because nothing in the passage indicates that Cortés doubted the moral correctness of his mission. D is incorrect because nothing in the passage indicates that Cortés intended to set himself up as the God of the people of Tenochtitlán.
3. A is correct because the banning of cannibalism and the “turning away” from idols referred to in the passage allow one to infer that Cortés intended to impose the laws of Christianity and Spain on the people of Tenochtitlán. B is incorrect because nothing in the passage indicates that Cortés intended to exterminate the people of Tenochtitlán. C is incorrect; despite the reference to “teaching” the people of Tenochtitlán, the passage makes it clear that Cortés’s primary mission was to rule the people of Tenochtitlán. D is incorrect because the passage allows one to infer nothing in regard to the worship practices of the people of Tenochtitlán; rather, the passage gives inferences of the ways in which Cortés interpreted those practices.
4. Suggested answer:
Thesis: Spanish colonization changed life in the New World by creating a new agricultural system and by shifting ownership of both the agricultural and mining sectors away from local populations.
I. Spanish colonization created a new agricultural system in which large estates called haciendas produced food and leather goods for the mining areas and urban centers of the New World, and plantations in the West Indies produced sugar for export.
II. In both the mining and agriculture sectors, ownership was in the hands of Spanish-born or Spanish-descended overlords, while labor was coerced from the native population.
In the fifteenth century, Isabella and Ferdinand used the resources of the newly united kingdom of Spain to promote overseas exploration. Other European kingdoms followed suit. This led to an unprecedented era of exploration and discovery in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and to the building of a Spanish empire in the New World. In the eighteenth centuries, Britain and France came to dominate the lucrative Triangular Trade Networks that imported valuable raw materials from North America and the Caribbean to Europe in exchange for the selling of manufactured goods to colonies and for slaves acquired from Africa.
The Mission (1986)—eighteenth-century Jesuit missionaries in South America