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Conquest and the Devastation of Indigenous Populations after 1492.docx

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Western University
Geography 2020A/B
Anthony Weis

Jan, 15, 2012 Conquest and the Devastation of Indigenous Populations after 1492 Spain in 1492: -There were the Wars of Re-conquest and they triumphed over the Moors from 711-1492 -By 1400 most of Spain had been retaken and it was not until 1492 that they were fully free and the crown unified Spain but they were financially broke from the long wars and this led to their inspiration for financing exploration -They were militaristic and indebted and they needed to finance debts to other countries they borrowed from so they needed to find new sources of wealth -The landscape and the types of people the conquerors encountered determined the nature of the conquest -The cultures of the New World went from large-scale Empires with agricultural surpluses, capital cities, and trade links to mobile, egalitarian, low-density populations (hunter-gather, swidden agriculture) Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean: -In the Caribbean the Taino or Arawak had a population of around 1 M and they practiced fishing and agriculture in small coastal villages -inter-island trading networks -Columbus said “Neither better people nor land can there be; the houses and the villages are so pretty; they love their neighbours as themselves, they have the sweetest speech in the world. They are gentle, and they are always laughing.” -“They are so artless and free with all they possess, that no one would believe it without having seen it. Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them.” -These quotes make Columbus seem much different than he is constantly portrayed in out culture where he is seen as an evil heartless man who was teh cause of the deaths of millions of Native people -Still though his name can be found everywhere and many things in the Americas are named after him -Contact was a dramatic moment of drama between the two worlds and both groups were filled with immense wonder about each other -Columbus also said “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.” -Hans Koning says “From the beginning, the Spaniards saw the native Americans as natural slaves, beast of burden, and part of the loot. When working them was more economical than treating them somewhat humanely, they worked them to death.” -The Spaniards believed the Americas would be a great source of mineral wealth to them so they put many Natives to work in the dangerous mines and the labour was terribly difficult and many died but there was no great none and by 1496 2/3’s of the population were gone -Columbus punished the peoples that could not retrieve him the gold he believed was there in abundance “[Columbus] could not see that he had found a ‘new world’, could not see Caribs or other indigenous peoples, could not, for all we know, truly see parrots or silver palms or turquoise waters. He could see, in fact, only gold, and it was goal or the prospect of it which compelled him to destroy the cultures and peoples in the lands he casually labelled ‘the Indies’. And in the end…it is this ethos of Law and Columbus that triumphs…” -There was a papal edict also saying “The Catholic faith and Christian religion, especially in our times shall be exalted, broadened, and spread in every part of the world, salvation shall be sought for all souls, barbarian nations shall be subdued and led back to the faith.” -Some have said it was like from 1492-1550 it was like the name of the game was to replace the people of the Caribbean with pigs, dogs, and cattle -This had a huge effect because there were no significant predators and they over took the islands more than people were able to do so and this greatly changed the environment -Later the Spanish got their meant from the Caribbean in some instances and the people were at that point actually hunting the farm animals that had gone wild -The Caribbean was left a shell of former societies and the Spanish lost interest because there was no evident mineral wealth and no native population to work the land so the interest turns to the Americas -Cortes was to go to the area of Central America near modern day Panama and Pizarro was to head to South America Jan, 15, 2012 -The Caribbean became a stop over point between Spain and the Incan realm and modern day Mexico Spain in the Americas: -Spain came to see their main prizes there as the mining areas around great mountains in the Andes like Potosi and areas in Central America -The importance of these areas led to the creation of the ‘Viceroyalty of New Spain’ especially in Mexico because of the silver and gold and the Viceroyalty of Peru around Peru, Bolivia and the Andean Altiplano -At one point New Spain included a lot more than just what is modern day Mexico and it extended into North America as far as north of California -A few decades after Columbus was in the Caribbean Cortes set out from Cuba in 1519 -It is estimated 90% of the indigenous population was lost within 100 years of conquest Aztec Conquest’s Key Factors: -Pure luck was a factor because 1519 was Year of the Reed in Aztec calendar (1/52 chance) and this marked the return of Quetzalcoatl in mythology and this possibly was confusing to Montezuma -Spanish military superiority played a part because they had steel armour, fighting dogs, horses, and guns and gunpowder -Hatred of the Aztecs made a difference in conquest because Cortez was able to forge strategic alliances (especially with the Tlaxcalans) because the groups wanted out from under their control -Diseases and especially small pox were devastating to the populations and it destabilized them and this depopulated and demoralized them -Disease was very psychologically difficult for people to deal with because you could go from perfectly healthy to dead in just a few days let alone the shee
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