Posts Tagged ‘European conquest’

Spreading God?

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The conquest of the “New World” is an example of how Europeans felt like it was their duty to conquer and control the world, the people in it, and spread their Christian beliefs in order to save others. Their idea of saving people was very different than what actually happened and they caused more harm among the native people than good. Attempting to fulfill their, “White Man’s Burden,” was the excuse they used in order to conquer indigenous people and use their power, usually a form of violence, to make the natives do what the Europeans wanted.

Not only did the Europeans bring God with them, they also brought epidemic diseases, guns, and war. When Hernando Cortes landed in modern-day Mexico, he carried with him the small pox disease that one of the slaves aboard was suffering from. The indigenous people living there, the Aztecs, had never been exposed to this type of disease and it tore though the population because of it’s highly contagious nature. The massive Aztec empire was suffering and they had no clue what was going on or how to stop it. The Europeans already had a huge advantage that they hadn’t even planned. The native population was decreased as much as 90% and many who remained were weakened or scared. The damage was done by a microscopic organism that neither side saw coming and the natives were completely defenseless.

Unlike small pox, the natives saw the Europeans coming but they could do little to stop them. Their limited weapon supply left them at a extreme disadvantage to the European steel swords, guns, and horses. Everything the Europeans brought over was used against the natives instead used to help them develop and show them how to use such things. Up in the Andes Mountains of South America, the Inca Empire, were isolated from surrounding native cultures but had their own complex society with a large population. They had the advantage of knowing the land but it was nothing compared to Francisco Pizarro‘s army of men. The natives had never seen guns or horses and were helpless victims to the invaders. They brought destruction and death. The complexity and advances of the Inca Empire were demolished by the Europeans who thought it was their job to spread their beliefs and gain land that contained any potential wealth, like the Inca gold and silver.

Europeans called the America’s the “New World,” when that world had belonged to people long before they discovered it. These people had built cities like Machu Picchu and created their own language and communication system. The Inca tied knots in rope then sent running messengers to deliver messages to other cities. The conquering Europeans found some of the cities and systems impressive but they were not worried about destroying a culture that had existed for many years before they “discovered” it. In many cases they spread death rather than belief in God and took advantage of the natives who had not been exposed to the same weapons and disease.



The European Conquest in the Americas

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

The European Expansion affected the indigenous people living in the Americas. It was a turning point for them, experiencing significant consequences from the expansion.

There were two causes of European Expansion. First, the Europeans experienced a rise in population and economy after the Black Death. However, Ottomans gave the privilege of Muslims to control the trade routes and Europeans weren’t satisfied with the trading products. Due to that, they needed to find new sources of precious metal that would increase their wealth or to find trade routes that bypassed the Ottomans. (World Societies, 465) Second, they wanted to spread the Christianity. Also, as the new navigational science emerged and the old geography map was replaced, many European explorers started to discover lands on the westward,the Americas,rising the curiosity of what is in the westside of the lands.

The discovery of lands on the west, the Americas, led the Europeans to gradually conquest the lands. Although the European presence in the land led to cultural exchange and to connect the societies together, they were the cruelest people, using indigenous people in the Americas as a physical machine. Why did the Europeans used them? As thousands of Spaniards immigrated to the Americas, they also imported their livestock for ranching. They also erected plantations to supply sugar. However, the Spaniards realized they needed workers to work on plantations and ranching. They couldn’t miss this huge chance of using other continent that was for their advantage because they didn’t have any workers. Luckily, having thousands of indigenous people in the Americas, the Spaniards saw them as the “answer” to the whole problem.

After the decision of using indigenous people, their lives were despaired. They weren’t able to rebel the forced labor from the Europeans because of encomienda system, which gave conquerors the right to use Native Americans legally. Not used to the overwork, there was a huge decline in the population. Not only that, the conquerors also brought deadly diseases such as small pox and influenza, that impacted greatly in the population. Without any knowledge of medication, the native people weren’t able to cure diseases very well. The Spaniards used native people efficiently, raising their economy and obtaining products not using their own land and people. Native people, on the other hand, gained nothing except they lost half of their people. It was a tragedy for them. However, the constant travel of Europeans and goods led to an exchange of animals, and plants. (World Societies, 478) This exchange finally brought some benefits to native people. As it says on the encomienda system, the Europeans brought some foods that changed native people’s diet. They brought bread and milk, which became the main diet for native people. The Europeans also brought horses, which made the communications and transportation to be much faster.

Most people might think that this whole European conquest was very one-sided, only bringing benefits to the Europeans. However, even though the Native Americans were treated poorly, having forced labor and being victims of many diseases, some goods that were brought by the Europeans led to healthier diets and to settle themselves again from the catastrophic diseases.