History 2201 E.doc
(History 2201 E Sept 17): Europeans “Discovery” and Appropriation of the “New World”:
Justifications, Motives, and Misunderstandings
•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
Columbus, Cabot, Cartier
Cabot (working for England) (looking for Asia) finds major natural resources = codfish
Cartier working for France 1530s looking for a passage to Asia intending to find
gold and silver to enhance the power of france. He goes up the st. Laurence. Cartier
keeps journals good primary source. Makes a third voyage in 1540s trying to find a
northwest passage to asia he things it’s the St. L. river. But he establishes a colony.
In 1840s they are still looking for a northwest passage.
Justification for European interventions in the new world.
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
3. Further arguments based on “effective occupation” in order to have claim over a
territory you must have an effective presence and colonies.