Geography 2020A/B Lecture Notes - Aztec Calendar, Quetzalcoatl, Pedro De Alvarado

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31 Jan 2013
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
-“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
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