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Conquest Of America Essay

1092 words - 4 pages

The 15th century was a turning point in the world's history, since the ocean, which was previously seen as an obstacle to reach beyond, was turned out to be a medium to unify the continents. The discovery of ocean is mainly referred as the "oceanic revolution" and it put the study of history in a global context, for power relations were no longer limited to national histories. At the time the Ottoman Empire was the leading figure in terms of power, since it was dominant in the Mediterranean which, as Bender states, formed the core of the world's economy. The Europeans, feeling inferior against the power and the wealth of Islamic world, saw the ocean as an alternative way to claim power. As Haring suggests ‘Ocean Sea' became "the medium of the world's commercial activity" which paved the way for the process of the "Expansion of Europe". Thus the power shifted from the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic with the European move onto the ocean.
During the 15th and the 16th centuries Europeans established colonies in the Americas and the Spanish colonization of the Americas began with the so-called discovery of New World by Columbus in 1492 while he was searching for a new route to Asian Indies. As Columbus recounted in his letter to the king of Spain, Americas was a kind of heaven with its prosporous land which was "full of trees of a thousand kinds". In fact, Columbus' letter is a useful source in our understanding of the motives of the Spaniards for the colonization of Americas. This untouched territory of Americas which Haring refers as "a virgin continent" contained gold as Columbus recounted in his letter. Indeed, what the Spaniards wanted from the Americas was gold, since their main motives were to gain wealth and "to obtain a more abundant supply of goods than was earlier available" as Haring mentions. Haring further argues that the Spaniards occupation of the Americas "would doubtless have been much slower if it was not for the discovery of vast stores of precious metals". As Haring states, another motive for colonization was "to impose their modes of civilization upon as large a part of the world as possible". In his letter, Columbus described the natives as "simple, timid folk who went about naked" and who "lived simple lives in an environment like that of the Garden of Eden". Thus the Spaniards justified their colonization of the Americas with the concept of the "White Man's Burden".
The success of the Spaniards' colonization of the Americas was partly a result of the condition of the natives. Columbus referred to the natives as "timorous creatures" without any weapons, so " the men who remain there alone sufficient to destroy all that land". In addition to this, the Aztec belief in the return of Quetzalcoat also played a significant role in the submission of the natives to the Spaniards. As the Spaniards were coming from the sea with their ships, the natives believed that they were the agents of the God and thus they showed...

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