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Lecture 1

HIST 2055 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Sweet Potato, Syphilis, Smallpox

Course Code
HIST 2055

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History 2055 Chapter 1
I. First Encounters
A. Columbus’ Records
All educated people knew that the world was round
Columbus believed it to be much smaller than estimated
Quickest way to East Asia was to WEST from Portugal
Portuguese deny him, believing they were wasting their money on
him “throwing it into the ocean”
Spanish just finishing Reconquista- converting to Catholicism
In a time of great success and happiness
Agree to take a chance on Columbus
Columbus’ journals document his voyages- knows what he writes
will be read by the wealthy; makes it seem plentiful; trying to sell
people on the idea that he has reached paradise; convince them that
their money is not wasted
Never loses sight of wealth- always looking for gold and
spices in particular; believes there would be plenty of gold
Continually marveled about strange plants and animals
Gentle Natives- perceptions of the natives; wants reader to
know that the people he found were quiet and calm; make
good slaves and would do whatever we tell them too; easily
convert them to Catholics; “Have no iron, steel or weapons,
share everything”
Arrives in Cuba, believes he’s in India (East Asia)
B. Bartolome de las Casas: Protests and “The Black Legend”
Dominican priest
People needed to be converted; were they human beings on the
same level as the Spanish?
De las casas- protect the Indians
Writings of de las casas presents debate on the humanity of the
“The Black Legend”- propaganda against the Spanish peoples;
rooted in truth
C. Other traits of Spanish Rule
II. The Columbus Myth
A. A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Washington Irving
Most of what we learn about Columbus is from Irving’s revision-
myth; all others thought the world was flat- created by Irving
Make history into stories of moral instruction
B. Two visions of Columbus- hero and founder; destroyer of culture to
native Americans (Columbus day parade)
C. Columbian Exchange- opens pathway between Europe and the
Old World to New World:
Horse, cow, sheep
Chicken, pig
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