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HISA04H3 Lecture Notes - The Columbian Exchange

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William Nelson

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Week 2, Lecture 3 HISA04 Themes in World History Wed 19th Sept 2012
Columbus and the Indies
- Columbus looked at Americas, ‘peered through tightly woven filters of expectation
and assumption from the past.’
- For example, naming it East Indies.
- We have our own assumptions/expectation of Columbus.
Columbus’ Writing
- Thought the earth was round.
- Saw mermaids saw Columbian sea.
- Saw three mermaids, said they were not pretty, and looked like men.
- Brought certain expectations when he was out there.
- Why did he write he saw mermaids?
- Image of the East = Mandeville’s Travels
Images of the East
- To Europeans image of the East determined by Marco Polo + John Mandeville
- Mandeville’s account = more popular than Marco Polo’s
- Columbus read both Marco and John’s accounts of travel.
- May have taken written accounts of Polo and Mandeville during voyage.
-Mandeville’s Travels published mid-14th century.
- Story of Englishman travelling East.
- Popularized idea of circumnavigability of Earth.
- Helped create expectations of marvels of the East.
On the Wonders and Marvels of Mandeville
-Mandeville’s Travels exploits eyewitness & local diversity
- People never travelled mock tales, but “if a man will …”
- John Mandeville never existed.
- Columbus and readers expected such expectations made by Mandeville’s Travels
and Polo’s accounts.
- Mermaids probably Manatees.
- Columbus says he (so far) never saw any human monstrosities as expected in these
islands, but whole population is very well formed; said on his first voyage.
The Columbian Exchange
- Developments encompassing several continents over several centuries and the
exchange of many things. Ex. Plants, animals, people and diseases
- Afro-Eurasia to Americas; wheat, grapevines, sugarcane, horses, cattle, swine,
microbes etc.
- Americas to Afro-Eurasia; potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, cacao peanuts, tobacco,
squash etc.
-Ecological Imperialism example of clearing land.
Advantages/Disadvantages of Visual or Prose
- Difficult to capture via visual due to time (Visual disadvantage, Prose advantage).
- Visual may be better in depicting/explaining detail, but Prose theoretically have no
limit in depicting/explaining detail.
- Context, visual images is more direct in representing objects.
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