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Lecture

Discovery of the New World


Department
History
Course Code
HIS 2201E
Professor
Prof

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HISTORY 2201E
Europeans’ “Discovery” and Appropriation of the “New World”: Justifications, Motives,
Misunderstandings
INTRODUCTION: Focus: early contacts b/t Europeans (espec. French and English) and Native
People from 1500s; Argument: Although Europeans came from more advanced civilizations and
on that basis justified intervening in the New World, Native People often had the upper hand in
early contacts, as is evident in the fur trade.
MOTIVES FOR EARLY EXPLORATIONS TO THE NEW WORLD: Mainly a search for
shortcuts to Asia; the significance of European nations’ rivalries
Columbus, Cabot, Cartier (then centuries of explorers seeking a “Northwest Passage” to Asia)
JUSTIFICATIONS FOR EUROPEAN INTERVENTIONS IN THE NEW WORLD:
1. Theological arguments about Christian rights and duties
2. The “unoccupied and unused lands” argument
3. Further arguments based on “effective occupation”
1. Theological arguments about Christian rights and duties the pope is the head of
western Christendom proclaims Portugal and Spain could make claims to the new land.
Since the people living in the new world were not civilized and heathens so they did not
have the right or the mental capacity to stop civilized Christians to take over. They
believed they should go and convert them to Christianity. They also believed that it would
be relatively easy to do so.
2. The “unoccupied and unused lands” argument the land appeared to be empty and
therefore they were unclaimed and open for taking. the best use of land was farming.
3. Further arguments based on “effective occupation” in order to have claim over a
territory you must have an effective presence and colonies.
Native people: active agents in early contact
Motives for early exploration: shortcuts to Asia for spices and silk
Ottoman empire make it difficult for Europeans to cross the Mediterranean to get to Asia
TRANSIENT ECONOMIC CONTACTS BETWEEN EUROPE AND CANADA: The Fishery
Where, Who, Why?
The indirect, inland, effects of the fishery: impact preceded settlement
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF PERMANENT SETTLEMENTS: the role of the fur trade
1. Quebec, 1608: Champlain founds first permanent settlement in Canada: fur trade; missions
The nature of the fur trade between the French and Amerindians
motives on each side; role of Amerindian “middlemen” impact on pre-existing aboriginal
rivalries
2. The English and the fur trade: the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1670
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