New World Peoples, Old World Diseases. 1942-1650
Essay assignment – make sure its not a book report.Answer the question – that is your thesis statement.
Think of this in an analytical framework. (Was it political, social, cultural, medical, economic etc)
How do I cite this? - You can use footnotes. (No need for a bibliography because it is only one book)
Double spaced. Avoid direct quotations. Exact words do not matter. Prof says use indirect
15 , 16 , 17 century now countries are thinking beyond europe. They are very confident, thinking
about their next steps. They want to seek out new commodities, new lands new people.
– Considerable cross influence between cultures. This is the age of discovery. This really becomes
global for them. Expanding into africa, pacific islands, americas. The impact is going to be
substantial. These worlds had not not been exposed to the europeans. Going to be devastating
for these new lands.
What motivates them to explore?
– portugal – they need new resources. (they are small geographical)(other countries would also
like new resources)
– Lure of direct trade without muslim intermediaries. (they become less tolerant of working with
the middle man) (Ivory, gold, slaves)
– Great missionary efforts of european christians. New zeal to spread the faith throughout the
– These motives are not mutually exclusive. Some people will use one motivation to promote
another. (for example support these expeditions because that would be what god wants but they
really are greedy. They would like the profit from these expeditions)
Alot of new technologies
– in terms of navigation. Make sure these people do not get lost. For example, (arabs used this
first) astro lab, cross staff. Use these to determine north and south positions.
– Magnetic compass
– better ships
– better canons
Prof says don't discount the importance of the sense of adventure by these young men on these travels.
– obvious curiosity of what exists beyond their world will shape their contact with these
– many charts made to map the world
– Quest for the north west passage.
– Able to talk about wind and water currents.
Medicine plays a large roll in the age of discovery. Western medicine is confronted with new diseases,
and new experiences with these diseases, they will also discovery new medical practices, medicinal
plants as well.
This is the beginning of a great movement of people. With the movement of people also comes the
movement of pathogens. (Quote: unification of the globe by disease. - la direa. He is saying germs are
spreading much more widely. Important in this period the burden of disease was far from equal. The
responses are not going to be the same as we have seen before.As you would expect, europeans (who
are the vessels for these pathogens to the new world) have had longer exposure to these diseases than
the new world people. In old world they have long history of domesticated animals. You have had a large reservoir of microbes in your backyard. You will have more of an immunity. Europe was joined
by trade, the often exchanged germs, new world is more local they do not have those trade routes
between each other. Old world explores bring disease, new world gets sick, old world does not. This
will be important to their approach.As we know new world gets decimated by these new diseases.
– 80 -90% mortality of these new worlds people are dead. (within the first generation new world
– Scholarly debate on how many thople. - somewhere between 50-100 million people.
– We do no for sure mid 17 cent the number had followed to 10 million.
– Impact, horrific depopulation. (numerous causes, interrelated causes)
– disease big factor obviously
I. The Columbian Exchange Thesis
- alfred crosby writes the columbian exhange thesis (1972)
- crosby is not a medical historian. He is a demographic historian. Interested in epidemiology.
- interested in the role disease plays in effecting population
- he wants to know how the europeans take over the new world (relatively easily)
-His main point is “the most important changes germinated by christopher columbas was
biological in nature.”
- he argues columbas voyage sparked this spread of disease.
- the columbian exchange – the movement of germs, moving in both directions across the
- it will bring irrevocable change to the planet.
- Global diffusion of human, plants, animals
- more diseases seem to go to the new world than the other way. (old world gets more plants in
the exchange. View chart)
- Small pox reduced the aztec population by 95%
- cross cultural exchange beneficial to the europeans.
- There is going to be a GLOBAL population increase. (asian, african, and european)
1500 – world pop 425 million people.
1800 – 900 million people.
Largest group of migrants – enslaved africans.
II. Disease and Conquest in theAmericas
how did the few hundred spaniards attain dominance over thousands of native americans? How
did they do it so quickly?
In the 16 century their were two answers to that question.
- Black legend of spanish evil. - Says that the spanish were just crueler. They had better
weapons. This outward cruelty was well known. (behead their opponent, didnt matter if they
were children or innocent for example) They said the spanish were sadistic, murders and brutes.
The other explanation is the religious explanation. - the said this was god's will. God's ultimate
plan. Europeans have a mission to spread the faith. Natives were being punished.
– the black legend was the more popular view. (continued to the 20 century. At this point
historians began to challenge this) a. Challenging the Black Legend
– the most obvious problem with the black legend. Natives would die wherever europeans
went not just where the spanish went.
– It did not matter what colonial regimes were set up. (if it was religious or exploitative, there
was the same depopulation effect)
– too few spaniards to take out the size of that population.
– Many historians point to disease. Biological agents were more important than the swords.
Disease weakend the native resistance. They were at a disadvantage.
– Crosby refutes the black legend.
– Ecological imperialism. - crosby theory. He argues that without the advantage given by
disease there is no way the spanish could have taken them over.
– Disease may not have been the s