1 Hernando Cortes VS. The Aztecs SPAIN The Aztecs were a Native American civilization that had gained substantial wealth from trading and heavy payments of tribute from conquered peoples. By the time Hernando Cortes of Spain landed in Mexico with his 600 soldiers, the Aztecs were in control of most of present-day Mexico. According to legend, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, characterized by light skin, red hair, and light eyes, was supposed to return to Earth. This described appearance is very similar to European appearance, and may be why the Aztecs originally greeted the Spaniards with food, gold, and women. The Spaniards, however, approached the Aztecs with an entirely different attitude. They had a strong sense of supremacy and intended to convert the natives to Christianity (specifically Catholic). The Spanish conversion methods were extreme though. The Spaniards gathered the natives together and shouted the essentials of the Bible, oblivious to the fact that the Aztecs did not understand their language. Often if the natives refused to fall to their knees and pray, the Spaniards assumed they were rejecting the word of God and killed or enslaved them. Upon arrival in North America, Cortes founded the colony of New Spain in Mexico, and by November took the Aztec leader, Montezuma, hostage. This event led to an Aztec uprising. The Aztecs drove the Spaniards out of Tenochititlan (Aztec s capital city), but Cortes survived and led the final attacks on Tenochititlan. Throughout the warfare, the Spaniards were aided by the gruesome advantage of disease. It is estimated that threequarters of the native population died of violence or diseases like small pox and measles in just the first century of the conquest. Also, other native tribes helped Cortes due to their own hatred of years of warfare and sacrifice brought by the Aztecs. Finally, the Aztec capital fell on August 13, The Spaniards destroyed the Aztec city, and built Mexico City on top of it. Virtually all of Aztec culture was carelessly destroyed in the conquest. Francisco Pizarro VS. The Incas Conquistadors Pizarro was a Spanish conquistador who traveled through much of the Pacific coast of South America along Peru. He "discovered" the Incan empire and conquered it brutally and quickly, stealing immense hoards of gold, silver, and other treasures. Atahualpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Incas, had just won a civil war against his half-brother (Huáscar), and had executed Huáscar and his family. Atahualpa had invited Pizarro to a celebratory feast, thinking that the Spanish were not much of a threat. Pizarro ambushed Atahualpa and killed thousands of his men. Atahualpa offered a huge ransom for his own release, but Pizarro took the treasure and had Atahualpa strangled to death on Aug. 29, 1533 instead; this was the end of the Incan empire. After looting and generally destroying the Incan capital of Cusco, Pizarro founded Lima.
2 FRANCE After explorations that focused mainly around present day Canada and the Great Lakes region, furs from wild animals were brought back to France causing an eruption in demand. The original mission to seek the Northwest Passage, if not forgotten along the way, definitely became secondary to the highly profitable fur trade. It was not long before the British saw how much money was being made by the French in the fur trade. Both British and French were soon sending shiploads of beaver pelts back to Europe. The competition between Britain and France already active in Europe and the colonies became fierce. Both countries wanted to control North America and its resources. The fur trade in North America began with the earliest contacts between Native peoples and Europeans. Native peoples across the continent had long had their own network of trading relationships. The new relationship with the Europeans initially fit into traditional trading patterns. Both Europeans and Native peoples profited during the early years of the trade. Native peoples received new trade goods,such as metal tools, and Europeans received furs and knowledge and technology to help them live and travel in North America s unfamiliar environment. Within a few years of their arrival on the continent, French and British fur traders competed with one another to form trading relationships with Native peoples. From the beginning, the Natives eagerly sought European goods and paid for them in furs (the most desired being beaver furs). Native traders used British French rivalries to their advantage. They frequently demanded, and received, better terms and goods in exchange for a partnership. Many French traders took Native women as wives. Native peoples had a tradition of building alliances with other communities through marriages, so the practice was easily accepted. The fur traders and the companies they worked for also encouraged these relationships. French officials believed the marriages would strengthen friendships and trade with Natives. They hoped that marriage to French men would encourage Native women and their children to adopt French language, religion, and culture in a process known as acculturation. To the surprise and dismay of French authorities, the process of acculturation worked both ways: many of their French traders began adopting Native ways of life. In time, a new culture and people arose from these unions. Fortunes could be made in the fur trade, and competition between companies and traders was fierce. Especially in later years, the drive to beat their competition and increase profits encouraged the use of alcohol as a trade item. Some companies also used alcohol to smooth trade negotiations. The traders began to find that some Native trading partners began to say they had all the trade goods they wanted or needed. Some communities could not see the point in accumulating more. Alcohol, however, was a different kind of trade good. Unlike knives and blankets, it was consumable and addictive. As the fur trade moved into the nineteenth century, alcohol became a significant part of the fur trade. In 1634, Father Paul Le Jeune, a Jesuit priest at Québec, reported the views of a local Native leader on the European desire for beaver pelts: The Beaver does everything perfectly well, it makes kettles, hatchets, swords, knives, bread; in short, it makes everything. The[y] have no sense; they give us twenty knives like this for one Beaver skin.
3 COLUMBUS When Columbus first saw the Native Arawaks that came to greet him and his crew he spoke with a peaceful and admiring tone. They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things... They willingly traded everything they owned... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. After several months in the Caribbean, Columbus, who had otherwise described the Natives as gentle people wrote (they are) evil and I believe they are from the island of Caribe, and that they eat men. He also described them as savage cannibals, with dog-like noses that drink the blood of their victims. Columbus forced the Natives to work in gold mines until exhaustion. Those who opposed were beheaded or had their ears cut off. In the provinces of Cicao all persons over 14 had to supply at least a thimble of gold dust every three months and were given copper necklaces as proof of their compliance. Those who did not fulfill their obligation had their hands cut off, which were tied around their necks while they bled to death some 10,000 died handless. In two years time, approximately 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. Many deaths included mass suicides or intentional poisonings or mothers killing their babies to avoid persecution by the conquistadors. According to Columbus, in a few years before his death, Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise. In addition to putting the Natives to work as slaves in his gold mines, Columbus also sold sex slaves to his men some as young as 9. Columbus and his men also raided villages for sex and sport. In the year 1500, Columbus wrote:... girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand. After a multitude of complaints against Columbus about his mismanagement of the island of Hispaniola, a royal commissioner arrested Columbus in 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains. Though he was stripped of his governor title, he was pardoned by King Ferdinand, who then payed for a fourth voyage by Columbus.
4 PORTUGAL In 1418, the monarchy of Portugal started to support the expansion of exploration of the world s oceans. Prince Henry The Navigator, started schools for sailors and navigators to support this cause. The Portuguese first focused their attention on the west coast of Africa. Why? They wanted to continue the Crusades, or Holy Wars against the Muslims. They wanted to find GOLD! They wanted to find trade routes to Asia that would bypass the Middle East. Timeline of Exploration Dias explores the west Da Gama goes Cabral coast of Africa around the southern lands in tip of Africa into the modern Indian Ocean. day Brazil Impact! The Portuguese exploration of Africa leads to contact with various African tribes. These tribes sell people from rival tribes to the Portuguese as slaves. This is the beginning of the Transcontinental Slave Trade. The Portuguese were able to take control of sea routes to Asia. This allowed them to cut off the rest of Europe from trade with Asia for a time. In Brazil, natives are forced into slave labor on sugar plantations. Slaves are also forced to convert to Christianity. Finally, European disease is introduced and a huge percentage of the native population dies. Long term impact: The sugar industry continues to be one of Brazil s most important cash crops. The Portuguese language is still widely spoken in Brazil. In 1808, the native Brazilians finally over through the Portuguese controlled government and become and independent nation.
5 NATIVES Aztec Empire - Mexico To be taken over by Cortes of Spain Taino/Arawak People - Caribbean To be taken over by Columbus for Spain A major element of Aztec life was religion. A polytheistic people, they often practiced human sacrifice to please their gods. The people believed that they owed a blood-debt to the gods. So, animals would be sacrificed, as well as humans. Also, there was ritual bloodletting, where people would cut themselves to offer their blood to the gods. We don't know how many were sacrificed over the years - it's possible that some accounts are exaggerated - but it was probably thousands each year. Some estimates claim 20,000 a year. In a sacrifice, the victim would be painted as a part of the ritual, they would be placed on a slab where their heart would be removed and held up to the sun. The body would be thrown down the stairs of the temple/pyramid. The body would be disposed of in various ways, such as feeding animals at the zoo or putting on display (the heads). There are some accounts of cannibalism, but it's uncertain if this was practiced to any great extent. There were other ways that humans would be sacrificed - shot with arrows, drowned, burned, or otherwise mutilated. Killing in a fight (like the Roman gladiators) also took place. Incan Empire - Peru, South America To be taken over by Pizarro of Spain! Within four years of Columbus' arrival on the island of Hispaniola, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population of 300,000. Within another 50 years, the Taino people had been made virtually extinct.! An alternate view of the extinction of the Arawak/Taino people is that dying at the hands of the Spanish could almost be seen as a blessing in disguise. This is because there was another tribe, a ferocious one called the Caribs, who were on the verge of pouncing on the Arawaks and putting them to an even more horrible end. These Caribs were, you see, eaters of human flesh. Following hard on the heels of the Arawaks, they had gobbled their way up through several Caribbean Islands, settling on each island like a swarm of locusts in a field, and only moving on when they had gorged themselves on every available Arawak. By the time of Columbus's arrival, the Caribs had eaten their way through many of the small islands and already were licking their chops for the meat walking about in Puerto Rico. When Atahualpa, a major Incan leader, won a crushing defeat over his brother he gained control of the empire. To make sure he kept his power, Atahualpa then invited the other leading members of the empire to the city of Cusco claiming he wanted to give part of the empire to them and his brother. This was just a trick, however, and Atahualpa killed them all when they had arrived in the capital so as to eliminate any threats to his throne.
6 PRIMARY SOURCE: From a Spanish Missionary This account is froma book written by Bartolome de Las Casas. He was a missionary and conquistador. He took part in the conquest of Cuba. These firsthand accounts lead one to believe he was very troubled by what he participated in and witnessed. There is no doubt about it; the Spanish were cruel in their conquest for gold and land. Events like these listed below did nothing to help relations between the different cultures. Instead it was a major reason why the Taino / Arawak peoples became extinct. Though we think his account of the events are mostly based in truth, there has been speculation by historians that he exaggerated some of the numbers to gain more hype for his book sales. Atrocities of the Spanish Conquistadors in the West Indies c The Spaniards with their horses, their spears and lances, began to commit murders and other strange cruelties. They entered into towns and villages, sparing neither children nor old men and women. They ripped their bellies and cut them to pieces as if they had been slaughtering lambs in a field. They made bets with each other over who could thrust a sword into the middle of a man or who could cut off his head with one stroke. They took little ones by their heels and crushed their heads against the cliffs. Others they threw into the rivers laughing and mocking them as they tumbled into the water. They put everyone they met to the edge of the sword. One time I saw four or five important native nobles roasted and broiled upon makeshift grills. The cried out pitifully. This thing troubled our Captain that he could not sleep. He commanded that they be strangled. The Sergeant (I know him and his friends from Seville) would not strangle them but put bullets into their mouths instead. I have seen all these things and others infinite. Most tried to flee. They tried to hide in the mountains. They tried to flee from these men. Men who were empty of all pity, behaving like savage beasts. They are nothing more than slaughterers and enemies of mankind. These evil men had even taught their hounds, fierce dogs, to tear natives to pieces at first sight. AND, when, although rare, the Indians put to death some Spaniards upon good right and law of justice; the Spaniards made an agreement that for every one Spaniard killed they had to slay one hundred Indians. One time the Indians came to meet us and receive us with food and good cheer! Instead, the devil, which had put himself in the Spaniards, put them all to the edge of the sword in my presence, without any cause whatsoever, more than three thousand souls. I saw there such great cruelties, that never any man living either have or shall see the like. In three or four months (myself being present) there died more than six thousand children, which the Spanish had sent into the Gold mines.