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HIST321: Comparative New Worlds, 1400-1750

Unit 4: Spain and Portugal in America   Spain and Portugal were the first European powers to explore and settle the New World.  The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 split the Americas into Spanish (western) and Portuguese (eastern) zones.

Spanish expansion into the New World began with the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, which was followed by the settlement efforts of the conquistadors.  The Spanish crown sanctioned these endeavors and hoped that gold, exotic produce, and the conversion of native peoples to Christianity would result from exploration in the Americas.  Spanish conquistadors founded several fledgling settlements in the Caribbean and South America, but they were soon abandoned.  In fact, Spanish dominance was not established in Central and South America until the mid-1500s, when Spanish forces conquered the Aztec and Inca empires.

The Portuguese founded trading posts in Newfoundland—for cod fishing—and in Brazil—for logwood exports—in the early 1500s.  While the Newfoundland settlement failed, the Portuguese settlement in Brazil did begin to thrive by the 1530s.
      
In this unit, we will consider the monopoly that Spain and Portugal had on New World possessions in the 1400s and early 1500s.  We will also examine the many fledgling posts of these European powers in the Americas, few of which developed into permanent settlements.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 9 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 6 hours

☐ Sub-subunit 4.2.1: 1 hour

☐ Sub-subunit 4.2.2: 1 hour

☐ Sub-subunit 4.2.3: 3 hours

☐ Sub-subunit 4.2.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.3: 1 hour

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • identify and describe Spain’s early colonization efforts in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America; and
  • identify and describe Portugal’s early efforts at establishing a trading empire in the New World.

4.1 The Spanish   Note: This topic is covered by the resource under sub-subunit 4.1.1.

4.1.1 Early Spanish Colonization Efforts   - Reading: Hernan Cortés’, “Second Letter to Charles V, 1520” Link: Hernan Cortés’, “Second Letter to Charles V, 1520” (PDF)
 
Also Available in:
HTML

 Instructions: Please read Cortés’ letter for his description of the
land and people he encounters.  As you read, ask yourself the
following questions: How does Cortés describe the geographic region
of Moctezuma’s realm?  What familiar features does Cortés include in
his descriptions of the cities and to what does he liken them?  What
does Cortés included in his description of commercial life in this
region and what does he deem valuable?  What traditions and
architectural structures constitute religious life in Moctezuma’s
realm?  In what ways are these traditions in conflict with Cortés’
Christian faith and tradition?  Describe Moctemzuma.  What kind of
ruler is he?  What does Cortés seem to admire in him?  What does he
seem to admonish?  

 (20 minutes)  
    
 Terms of Use: The resource above is in the public domain.

4.1.2 Imperial Spain and the Conquistadors   - Reading: Bartolome de las Casas’, “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies [1542]” and Phillip II’s “Two Documents from the Reign of Philip II.”

Link: Bartolome de las Casas’, [“A Short Account of the Destruction
of the Indies
[1542]”](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HIST321-4.1.2-las-Casas.pdf) (PDF),
and Phillip
II’s [“](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HIST321-4.1.2-Philip-II.pdf)[Two
Documents from the Reign of Philip
II”](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HIST321-4.1.2-Philip-II.pdf) (PDF).
 

 

Also Available in:  

[HTML](http://web.archive.org/web/19980116133031/http:/pluto.clinch.edu/history/wciv2/civ2ref/casas.htm)(“A
Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies [1542]”)  
 [HTML](http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/PhilipII.html)(“Two
Documents from the Reign of Philip II”)  

 Instructions: Please read the selections to get a sense of the
situation the Conquistadors encountered and what motivated them.  As
you read, ask yourself the following questions: How does Bartolome
de las Casas describe the native populations with which the
Spaniards encountered in the Americas?  How does he describe the
Spaniards’ treatment of this population?  What role does
Christianity play in las Casas’ account?  According to “The Gold of
the Indies (1559),” what challenges do the Spanish face in
extracting wealth from the Indies?  What does the author of this
document suggest to overcome these challenges?  What details do we
learn about Spain’s economy under Philip II from the document
“Revenues of the King of Spain (1559)”?  How does the author
characterize Philip II’s spending habits as they relate to Spain’s
possessions in the Americas?  

 (20 minutes)  

 Terms of Use: The resources above are both in the public domain.
  • Reading: University of Calgary: The Applied History Research Group’s The European Voyages of Exploration: “Imperial Spain: Castile and Aragon” Link: University of Calgary: The Applied History Research Group’s The European Voyages of Exploration: “Imperial Spain: Castile and Aragon” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage in order to get a sense of how and why Spain began to create an empire of conquest overseas.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.2 The Spanish in the Caribbean and Latin America   Note: This topic is covered in the resources under sub-subunits 4.2.1-4.2.4.

4.2.1 Christopher Columbus   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “European Voyages of Exploration: Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire,” and Christopher Columbus’ “Extracts from Journal.” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “European Voyages of Exploration: Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire” (PDF), and Christopher Columbus’ “Extracts from Journal” (PDF).

 Also Available in:  
 [HTML](http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.asp)  

 Instructions: Please read the selection “European Voyages of
Exploration: Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire” in order
to understand the impact of Columbus’s voyage to what he thought was
the East Indies but turned out to be the Americas.  As you read, ask
yourself the following questions: What was the political and
economic situation in Spain when Columbus set sail for the first
time?  What land did Columbus believe he found?  How did Columbus’
objectives change from one voyage to another?  What is the long-term
significance of his voyages?  

Then, please read “Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal.”  As
you read, ask yourself the following questions: How does Columbus
describe the situation in Spain and its monarchs on the eve of his
first voyage?  What clues and knowledge did Columbus and his crew
rely on to determine when they were approaching land?  What rewards
did the Spanish monarchs promise those who participated in the
voyage?  What details of the sailors’ arrival on shore does Columbus
include in his journal?  How does Columbus’ description of the
native population compare and contrast with Bartolome de las Casas’
account in Subunit 4.1.2?  What role does Christianity play in
Columbus’ account?  

 (25 minutes)  
    
 Terms of Use: The resources above are both in the public domain.

4.2.2 Exploits in the Caribbean   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The European Voyages of Exploration: The Caribbean: First Contact,” and King Ferdinand’s “Letter to the Taino-Arawak Indians.” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The European Voyages of Exploration: The Caribbean: First Contact” (PDF), and King Ferdinand’s “Letter to the Taino-Arawak Indians” (PDF).
 
Also Available in:

[HTML](http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/before-1600/king-ferdinands-letter-to-the-taino-arawak-indians.php)  
    
 Instructions: Please read the selection “The European Voyages of
Exploration: The Caribbean: First Contact” in order to understand
origins and impact of Spanish exploration and colonization in the
Caribbean.  As you read, ask yourself the following questions: What
were the motivations behind Spanish expansion and colonization in
the Americas?  What are the two styles of European imperialism?  In
what ways did the Spanish experience in the Caribbean establish
patterns of further expansion and colonization?  

Please read “King Ferdinand’s letter to the Taino-Arawak Indians.”
As you read, ask yourself the following questions: In whose name and
by what authority does King Ferdinand claim the lands inhabited by
the Taino-Arawak?  What does King Ferdinand ask of the Taino-Arawak?
 What will be the consequences of not complying with this request?  

 (20 minutes)  
    
 Terms of Use: The resources above are both in the public domain.

4.2.3 The Conquest of Mexico   - Reading: Modern History Sourcebook’s “Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Motecuhzoma’ “Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico” (PDF).
 
Also Available in:
HTML

Instructions: Please read the selection in order to get a sense of
the Spanish Conquistadors’ defeat of the Aztec Empire.  As you read,
ask yourself the following questions: How does Motecuhzoma address
Cortés?  Who is La Malinche and what is her role in the encounter?
 How does the account describe the circumstances under which the
massacre in the main temple occurred?  
 (10 minutes)  
    
 Terms of Use: The resource above is in the public domain.
  • Reading: Canadian Libraries Internet Archive’s version of Bernal Diaz del Castillo’s True History of the Conquest of Mexico

    Canadian Libraries Internet Archive’s version of Bernal Diaz del Castillo’s True History of the Conquest of Mexico (PDF)
     
    Also available in:
    Google Books
    EPub
    Kindle
    Daisy
    HTML

    Instructions: Click on the PDF version, or click on one of the alternate versions and download a version (HTML, PDF, Kindle, etc.) under “View the Book” on the left side of the webpage.  Please read Chapters VIII and IX, paying special attention to Castillo’s perceptions and observations of the Aztec Empire.
     
    This account, written around 1568, describes the invasion of Mexico by Don Hernando Cortes and his 600 Spanish conquistadors in 1519.  Despite their advanced society, the Aztecs were no match for European disease and warfare; three years later, in 1521, the Aztec capital surrendered to Cortes.  Written from the perspective of the European conquerors, this document is one of only a few texts that elucidate the collision of Spanish and Aztec cultures in the New World.
     
    Terms of Use: The resource above is in the public domain.

4.2.4 Pizarro and Peru   - Reading: U.S. Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Rex A. Hudson, ed.'s Peru: A Country Study: “Pizarro and the Conquistadors” Link: U.S. Library of Congress’s Country Studies: Rex A. Hudson’s (ed.) Peru: A Country Study: “Pizarro and the Conquistadors” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to get an overview of Pizarro’s victory over the Incas in Peru.  This website contains electronic texts of previous publications printed by the Library of Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army from 1986-1998.
 
Terms of Use: The resource above is in the public domain.

4.3 Early Portuguese Colonization Efforts: The Portuguese Empire   - Reading: Library of Congress Country Studies: Rex A Hudson’s (ed.) Brazil: A Country Study: “Early Colonization” Link: Library of Congress Country Studies: Rex A. Hudson’s (ed.) Brazil: A Country Study: “Early Colonization” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of the webpage to get a sense of the early Portuguese Empire.
 
Terms of Use: This material is part of the public domain.

  • Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The European Voyages of Exploration: Portugal” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The European Voyages of Exploration: Portugal” (PDF).
     
    Instructions: Please read the selection in order to get a sense of the emergence of a powerful and influential Portuguese trading empire.   As you read, ask yourself the following questions: What circumstances enabled Portugal to take the lead in European overseas expansion?  In what ways did the Portuguese monarchy encourage maritime exploration?  In what ways was Portugal a “trading empire?”  What was the Treaty of Tordesillas and what did it state?
     
    (10 minutes)
     
    Terms of Use: The resource above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License, it is attributed to The Saylor Foundation.