History 2501E Lecture Notes - Smallpox, Teamwork, Bartolomé De Las Casas

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Sept, 20, 2012
Conquest and Exploration Part 2
-Portugal was looking for trade and not really to settle anywhere and they especially wanted a port
-Brazil was not all that important to them because there were not a lot of materials that were worth trading for
-The Spanish were different however because they had a history of conquering (after the re-conquest) and thus
there were two very different styles of settling but both required huge amounts of money from investors
-When Italians did their trade they would make groups of men and send ships to areas they felt there was money
to be made and the profits would be divided and Spanish and Portuguese organized in a similar way
-Columbus had problems when he left for the Indies because the Queen has invested in the trip and many other
important people had pooled their resources so he HAD to come back with something
-He thought he was going to find a land of silk and spices which were very expensive items and when he got to the
Caribbean they had nothing he wanted to trade for and he had to go back and face the investors so he took slaves
-The Queen did not like this much because they realized that it was not Asia that was reached and the new people
were her subjects of and she did not really want to enslave them (many ended up in debt)
-Had to pay taxes because the crown sent accountants to take a portion of all profit that was made
-Team work was vital to keep the group unified and explains why so many expeditions were done with relatives or
people who came from the same area (conquest achieved by just a few regions of Spain because of this)
-Expeditions also required a strong leader who was not afraid and who could control the men and keep them loyal
-These men had to be diplomatic in all situations and when they found rebellious soldiers they were sentenced to
death (naval laws were brutal)
The Spanish Conquest of the Caribbean:
-Reached the Caribbean in 1493 and when he returned it was interesting they allowed for another expedition
-This second expedition was different because it was all about settling the area now and not trade and the crown
wanted to do this for tradition and they did not want to lose this opportunity to another country
-They sent 1500 settlers who arrived with some goods but the seeds were a problem and were primarily wheat but
this was almost impossible to grow in the climate and it was not an easy settlement
-They all had profit in mind so they tried to convince the natives to work or them but they were not used to this
sort of work because they could take what they wanted all year because of the climate but when they refused the
Europeans forced them to and they demanded land (wanted workers to be assigned by the natives)
-This led to big trouble because Columbus was not a noble and he was a foreigner so he did not have a lot of
respect from the soldiers and people began to do what they wanted and there were no laws or anyone to enforce
them so they started committing all sorts of crimes against the natives that led in a decline of the population
-The first place they settled was Española and this became Haiti and the Dominican Republic later but as the
population declined from 1493-1520 they tried to get labour from other islands in raids
-There were many complaints to the crown that the situation was not good so they tried to send other people to
see what was going on because there was no direct line of communication
-By 1502 only 200 of the settlers had survived because of the tough climate and this time was an experiment for
the crown because they never had a territory that was theirs that was so far away and they had never encountered
such a different population (no great wealth in their view but they did not want to let go)
-Reluctantly allowed government to allocate the natives into encomienda which were small communities that
owed labour to the crown (like taxes) and the people would have to devote about 1/3 of their year to this
-The settlers were happy with this because they got the labour they needed because they were the ones that went
and settled the place and it was like a grant to the conquerors from the crown (but the crown was reluctant)
-Crown would have to deal with and rumours especially on the part of the friars that natives were being abused
were a concern (supposed to be workers but were like slaves)
-People supposed to educate the workers on Christianity but this rarely happened and for a while things were
lagging behind because the crown needed to make up some laws to protect the natives and set limits for the
explorers and this was one of the worst periods of the conquest
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