Lecture 2 Part 1 – European Exploration of the New World

Hi, everyone. We need to talk today about the first Europeans who will make it to the Americas. We’ll start off with the Spanish and then we’ll move on to the French in North America. And then we’ll finish in our next lecture after this one with the English settlement of North America. Now what we have to remember – a good way of sort of framing European exploration – is how very dangerous exploration was during this time period – during the late 15th and early 16th century.

This is the age of sail. So, for example, if you’re sailing into the unknown when you leave you have to have wind in your sails. If you don’t have wind in your sails then your ship stalls and you will probably die a slow painful death of dehydration and starvation. Or, too much wind, in the case of the picture that I have here on the slide, Atlantic hurricanes. For some of these first European settlers making their way across the Atlantic, they have no conception of what these monster storms are or how very easily they could capsize their ships.

You also have the issues of dehydration. Finding sources of fresh water if it doesn’t rain while you’re on the ship and you’ve already worked through all of your fresh water supplies, then it’s going to it’s going to be bad. Or, starving to death – lack of nutrients like scurvy. The reason why I start from this point when I talk about European exploration is that this is a time period In which the dangers of exploring might mean that you never even got to your destination -wherever that was or however long it might take.https://www.theguardian.com/help/insideguardian/2020/jul/01/guardian-soulmates-has-come-to-an-end

And for that reason for those who are the first to sail on some of these ocean-going voyages, there must have been some pretty compelling reasons for them to literally risk their lives to search – to sail off into the unknown. So that brings me to my next point in the next slide. Historians often refer to a trio of motivations for some of these earliest explorers as Gold, God and Glory. And as you can see here, gold really involves more than just the yellow metal that we think of it.

And, in fact, that wasn’t even the original lure for explorers like Christopher Columbus. He wasn’t looking for gold. He didn’t know that there were new continents that he was going to stumble upon. Instead, he, like many of his age, were interested in trying to find routes to the far east – trade routes specifically for the trade in spices. Europeans had an almost insatiable demand for a number of exotic spices that did not grow in the climate of Europe. instead Many of those grew very far away in regions such as present-day India and China.

The overland trip to go get those spices just took forever. I mean, you’re crossing the largest land mass in the world – a very dangerous trip. That meant that for those who came back to Europe with this very valuable cargo they had to charge a huge markup on it to be able to make money.

And so what they had been doing – what Europeans had been doing – and if you’ll take a look at the map here and follow my cursor, you’ll notice that they had been taking a sort of a shortcut partially through water. They were moving through the Mediterranean sea. I’ll go up to the bigger map here on top and show you what I mean.

They were leaving – they were cutting through the Mediterranean sea then going overland for just a little bit coming out into the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. And then, coming back to this larger map below, then they were taking the final leg of their journey through the Indian Ocean to get to their destination. An ocean-going way to get to the far east drastically cut down the time it took. And, as a result, it also made the resulting product cheaper. Less time, less money spent hiring people to go get these things for a longer period of time means you can pass along the savings to consumers.

Now where am I going with all this? Well, the deal is is that by the end of the 15th century the eastern Mediterranean – what we think of today as the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, the present-day country of Turkey – by the 15th century this area had been taken over by the Ottoman Empire. You can see the map up here where I have the the region shaded in yellow – taken over by the Ottomans. These Muslim invaders decided that they’re going to cut off access to the eastern Mediterranean. They’re no longer going to allow these Christian western Europeans to cut through their backyard to get to the far east.

So what that means is – again – moving to my map here on the bottom, is you’re going to see Europeans looking for other ocean-going ways to get to the far east. If they can’t use the Mediterranean – the shortcut they’re accustomed to – then the Portuguese will start this out – and they will begin sailing around this huge landmass to the south of them that we think of as the African continent today. The Portuguese will be the first to navigate around the horn of Africa and make their way to the far east.

That will be different though for other European powers who cannot Follow in the wake of the Portuguese because the Portuguese want to hold tight to their particular trade route. So that leads us to the case of the country of Spain and their underwriting Christopher Columbus to sail west. This was his hope. He’s going to leave Europe.

He’s going to sail west to get to the east. What he miscalculated was how big the globe is. And he also miscalculated – he didn’t realize there were these two continents that we think of as North and South America here. So that is how Columbus ends up bumping into several continents that were at this point unknown to Europeans.

And he did all this on behalf of the king and queen of Spain – Ferdinand and Isabella, who decided to that this might be a good business venture for them. I want to move on, though. And I do want to mention that if you didn’t have someone with deep pockets like a king and a queen in the case of Columbus, you might have to look for private financiers for some of these voyages.

And I want to make this point right now. Even though we’re not yet to the first English settlements in North America, we’re going to start out with Spain and then move on to France and then get to England But I want to go ahead and make this point right now. It takes a lot of money to finance some of these early voyages of exploration. You’ve got to get ships.

You’ve got to hire sailors. You’ve got to have supplies. They’re sailing off for who knows how long. So you need a lot of upfront financing. Joint-stock companies will be crucial in financing the first English settlements in the new world.

For example. the Virginia Company of London will help to underwrite the Jamestown colony. We’ll be talking about that as we move on. Later on another private company – the Massachusetts Bay Company – will end up financing the second Puritan voyage to New England or Massachusetts at that time. So just understand and understand what these joint stock companies are and the role that they played in the first English settlement of the colonies. All right so, back to Spain.

Since they are the first European power that in a sustained fashion will come into contact with North America, what will later become the United States – back to the issue of Spain. So Christopher Columbus, even though he’s Italian, he’s found people who are willing to pay for his voyage in the monarchs of Spain – Ferdinand, Isabella. They want to do this to find those the spice routes, those trade routes to the far east/ Another way in which Columbus gets Ferdinand and Isabella to sign on to underwrite this voyage is he – a very devout Catholic – will argue to these Catholic regents “Let’s do this thing, okay?

Not only will I make you money, but I’ll be able to spread Roman Catholicism around the world.” This too was a very attractive proposition from their standpoint. So it’s not surprising that after Columbus, for subsequent Spanish who are coming into especially North America, that you’re going to see a string of Catholic missions established throughout what we think of as the desert Southwest. Even here in Georgia off St.

Catharine’s Island will have a Catholic mission set up by the Spanish over time And this will be their way of trying to convert the local native American population to Roman Catholicism Now how successful they were, I’ll leave that up to you to figure that out. You’ve got a language barrier. You’ve got a tremendous cultural barrier. Last lecture, I talked about various notions of spirituality among many of these Native American tribal peoples.

Nothing, nothing like the monotheistic faith of the first Europeans coming over. So it’s going to be a bumpy ride, as you might expect. And I give you this primary source here of Hernan Cortes, who will be coming into what was then – what we think of as present-day Mexico to the Aztec Empire.

When he’s coming in and he’s trying to convert these people to Catholicism and the worship of one God – monotheism, as he reads some of the requirements of this new faith, then as you can see, the native peoples are resisting. They are resisting because there’s no one who’s going to give up their religious faith overnight just because someone else tells them that they’re wrong, all right. So a lot of resistance here.

But according to Cortes, as you can see here, he will say “it was plainly manifest that God was fighting on our side.” He then goes on to say that they were able to defeat the locals “God gave us such victory in your majesty’s cause that we killed many Indians without ourselves receiving any hurt.” He totally kind of ignores the fact that they have advanced weapons. They have metal armor, horses, cannons, what have you. And instead, he zeroes in on what he perceives to be his superior religion – that their God was favoring the Spanish and so they must be doing the right thing in this case because they managed to subdue the natives even though they’re outnumbered.

So understand that religion is a huge motivator in this process as well for the first Europeans coming over. And then we move on in the case of glory. This should be pretty evident in the case of national glory. When Columbus comes over and plants that that flag for the country of Spain, he is symbolically claiming all this new territory for the country that underwrote this voyage. That looks good these people believe.

Europeans believed during this time period the more land you can conquer – especially overseas – the more it reflects favorably upon your country. The fact hat you can finance a navy, the fact that you can reach out and militarily take over other areas of the globe – this is something that enhances their national glory. And then in a personal sense for some of these first explorers coming over – especially in the case of Spain – the conquistadors, when they come over many of them never intend on staying in the new world. They want to come over, strike it rich, come back home to Spain with their newfound wealth and lots of exciting stories to tell the people in their village and just bask in the glory of everyone saying “Oh, you really killed 10 Indians barehanded that day?” “Sure, sure, sure I did.” You know?

Hi, everyone. We need to talk today about the first Europeans who will make it to the Americas. We’ll start off with the Spanish and then we’ll move on to the French in North America. And then we’ll finish in our next lecture after this one with the English settlement of North America. Now what we have to remember – a good way of sort of framing European exploration – is how very dangerous exploration was during this time period – during the late 15th and early 16th century.

This is the age of sail. So, for example, if you’re sailing into the unknown when you leave you have to have wind in your sails. If you don’t have wind in your sails then your ship stalls and you will probably die a slow painful death of dehydration and starvation. Or, too much wind, in the case of the picture that I have here on the slide, Atlantic hurricanes. For some of these first European settlers making their way across the Atlantic, they have no conception of what these monster storms are or how very easily they could capsize their ships.

You also have the issues of dehydration. Finding sources of fresh water if it doesn’t rain while you’re on the ship and you’ve already worked through all of your fresh water supplies, then it’s going to it’s going to be bad. Or, starving to death – lack of nutrients like scurvy. The reason why I start from this point when I talk about European exploration is that this is a time period In which the dangers of exploring might mean that you never even got to your destination -wherever that was or however long it might take.

And for that reason for those who are the first to sail on some of these ocean-going voyages, there must have been some pretty compelling reasons for them to literally risk their lives to search – to sail off into the unknown. So that brings me to my next point in the next slide. Historians often refer to a trio of motivations for some of these earliest explorers as Gold, God and Glory. And as you can see here, gold really involves more than just the yellow metal that we think of it.

And, in fact, that wasn’t even the original lure for explorers like Christopher Columbus. He wasn’t looking for gold. He didn’t know that there were new continents that he was going to stumble upon. Instead, he, like many of his age, were interested in trying to find routes to the far east – trade routes specifically for the trade in spices. Europeans had an almost insatiable demand for a number of exotic spices that did not grow in the climate of Europe. instead Many of those grew very far away in regions such as present-day India and China.

The overland trip to go get those spices just took forever. I mean, you’re crossing the largest land mass in the world – a very dangerous trip. That meant that for those who came back to Europe with this very valuable cargo they had to charge a huge markup on it to be able to make money.

And so what they had been doing – what Europeans had been doing – and if you’ll take a look at the map here and follow my cursor, you’ll notice that they had been taking a sort of a shortcut partially through water. They were moving through the Mediterranean sea. I’ll go up to the bigger map here on top and show you what I mean.

They were leaving – they were cutting through the Mediterranean sea then going overland for just a little bit coming out into the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf. And then, coming back to this larger map below, then they were taking the final leg of their journey through the Indian Ocean to get to their destination. An ocean-going way to get to the far east drastically cut down the time it took. And, as a result, it also made the resulting product cheaper. Less time, less money spent hiring people to go get these things for a longer period of time means you can pass along the savings to consumers.

Now where am I going with all this? Well, the deal is is that by the end of the 15th century the eastern Mediterranean – what we think of today as the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, the present-day country of Turkey – by the 15th century this area had been taken over by the Ottoman Empire. You can see the map up here where I have the the region shaded in yellow – taken over by the Ottomans. These Muslim invaders decided that they’re going to cut off access to the eastern Mediterranean. They’re no longer going to allow these Christian western Europeans to cut through their backyard to get to the far east.

So what that means is – again – moving to my map here on the bottom, is you’re going to see Europeans looking for other ocean-going ways to get to the far east. If they can’t use the Mediterranean – the shortcut they’re accustomed to – then the Portuguese will start this out – and they will begin sailing around this huge landmass to the south of them that we think of as the African continent today. The Portuguese will be the first to navigate around the horn of Africa and make their way to the far east.

That will be different though for other European powers who cannot Follow in the wake of the Portuguese because the Portuguese want to hold tight to their particular trade route. So that leads us to the case of the country of Spain and their underwriting Christopher Columbus to sail west. This was his hope. He’s going to leave Europe.

He’s going to sail west to get to the east. What he miscalculated was how big the globe is. And he also miscalculated – he didn’t realize there were these two continents that we think of as North and South America here. So that is how Columbus ends up bumping into several continents that were at this point unknown to Europeans.

And he did all this on behalf of the king and queen of Spain – Ferdinand and Isabella, who decided to that this might be a good business venture for them. I want to move on, though. And I do want to mention that if you didn’t have someone with deep pockets like a king and a queen in the case of Columbus, you might have to look for private financiers for some of these voyages.

And I want to make this point right now. Even though we’re not yet to the first English settlements in North America, we’re going to start out with Spain and then move on to France and then get to England But I want to go ahead and make this point right now. It takes a lot of money to finance some of these early voyages of exploration. You’ve got to get ships.

You’ve got to hire sailors. You’ve got to have supplies. They’re sailing off for who knows how long. So you need a lot of upfront financing. Joint-stock companies will be crucial in financing the first English settlements in the new world.

For example. the Virginia Company of London will help to underwrite the Jamestown colony. We’ll be talking about that as we move on. Later on another private company – the Massachusetts Bay Company – will end up financing the second Puritan voyage to New England or Massachusetts at that time. So just understand and understand what these joint stock companies are and the role that they played in the first English settlement of the colonies. All right so, back to Spain.

Since they are the first European power that in a sustained fashion will come into contact with North America, what will later become the United States – back to the issue of Spain. So Christopher Columbus, even though he’s Italian, he’s found people who are willing to pay for his voyage in the monarchs of Spain – Ferdinand, Isabella. They want to do this to find those the spice routes, those trade routes to the far east/ Another way in which Columbus gets Ferdinand and Isabella to sign on to underwrite this voyage is he – a very devout Catholic – will argue to these Catholic regents “Let’s do this thing, okay?

Not only will I make you money, but I’ll be able to spread Roman Catholicism around the world.” This too was a very attractive proposition from their standpoint. So it’s not surprising that after Columbus, for subsequent Spanish who are coming into especially North America, that you’re going to see a string of Catholic missions established throughout what we think of as the desert Southwest. Even here in Georgia off St.

Catharine’s Island will have a Catholic mission set up by the Spanish over time And this will be their way of trying to convert the local native American population to Roman Catholicism Now how successful they were, I’ll leave that up to you to figure that out. You’ve got a language barrier. You’ve got a tremendous cultural barrier. Last lecture, I talked about various notions of spirituality among many of these Native American tribal peoples.

Nothing, nothing like the monotheistic faith of the first Europeans coming over. So it’s going to be a bumpy ride, as you might expect. And I give you this primary source here of Hernan Cortes, who will be coming into what was then – what we think of as present-day Mexico to the Aztec Empire.

When he’s coming in and he’s trying to convert these people to Catholicism and the worship of one God – monotheism, as he reads some of the requirements of this new faith, then as you can see, the native peoples are resisting. They are resisting because there’s no one who’s going to give up their religious faith overnight just because someone else tells them that they’re wrong, all right. So a lot of resistance here.

But according to Cortes, as you can see here, he will say “it was plainly manifest that God was fighting on our side.” He then goes on to say that they were able to defeat the locals “God gave us such victory in your majesty’s cause that we killed many Indians without ourselves receiving any hurt.” He totally kind of ignores the fact that they have advanced weapons. They have metal armor, horses, cannons, what have you. And instead, he zeroes in on what he perceives to be his superior religion – that their God was favoring the Spanish and so they must be doing the right thing in this case because they managed to subdue the natives even though they’re outnumbered.

So understand that religion is a huge motivator in this process as well for the first Europeans coming over. And then we move on in the case of glory. This should be pretty evident in the case of national glory. When Columbus comes over and plants that that flag for the country of Spain, he is symbolically claiming all this new territory for the country that underwrote this voyage. That looks good these people believe.

Europeans believed during this time period the more land you can conquer – especially overseas – the more it reflects favorably upon your country. The fact hat you can finance a navy, the fact that you can reach out and militarily take over other areas of the globe – this is something that enhances their national glory. And then in a personal sense for some of these first explorers coming over – especially in the case of Spain – the conquistadors, when they come over many of them never intend on staying in the new world. They want to come over, strike it rich, come back home to Spain with their newfound wealth and lots of exciting stories to tell the people in their village and just bask in the glory of everyone saying “Oh, you really killed 10 Indians barehanded that day?” “Sure, sure, sure I did.” You know?

So these things shouldn’t be too hard for us to understand today. But these were powerful enough motivators that, as I said, for many of the first Europeans coming over they were willing to risk it all including their lives for these reasons. Getting a little more specific, when we talk about Spanish exploration of the New World, I’m not going to go into Columbus in any depth.

Because most of you are familiar with him from elementary school Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. You remember all the elementary school rhymes for that. But moving on, someone that was actually part of Columbus’ second voyage in 1493 back to Hispaniola was Ponce de Leon. And when we think about him he’s one of these early Spanish explorers that will actually touch ground in North America.

All right, so he’s going to be able to make a successful voyage in 1513 at his own expense, I might add. He’s going to come away from the Caribbean islands and he’s going to sail north, landing on the east coast of Florida with a contingent of about 200 men There’s the story that he was searching for a fountain of youth – waters that would reportedly, if you drank from them, grant you immortality. Real historians tend to minimize that.

More likely, he was searching for wealth. He was searching to claim more territory for Spain. But that story has kind of persisted even to the present day. He may have been curious about that. But that was not the overriding reason for his voyage He named the region Florida, meaning flowery, because of all the the exotic tropical vegetation that he saw there.

He will make a second trip in 1521 landing on the west coast of Florida this time. He didn’t bring enough men, and he wasn’t really sure what he was doing. He was very soon attacked by the Calusa Indians there and was wounded possibly by a poison arrow to the thigh and died. But we refer to Ponce de Leon as the first European to really land in North America at this point in time. So we’re going to see that the Spanish -when we talk about where they settle in the new world – they’re not going to settle in very large numbers in North America.

Instead, they’re going to tend to focus on Central America and South America. And the reason for this is ultimately very simple. In North America, Ponce de Leon and those that came after him did not find gold nuggets laying on the ground, ok? They’re not finding diamonds and rubies just ready for them to scoop up.

They’re not going to find easy forms of mineral wealth in North America. They will find it relatively easier in Central and South America, because they will learn from the native peoples there. So, for example. in present-day Mexico, the region of Zacatecas to the North – there are silver mines there.

When the Spanish find out about that they immediately begin enslaving the natives – putting them to work mining for that precious metal. The same is true in South America in present-day Bolivia – the silver mines near Potosi. So I say all this now because when we see the Spanish in North America they’re only just kind of sitting on that territory so that no one else gets it.

They’re not colonizing North America in large numbers, unlike Central and South America, where, even today, Spanish is still the predominant language – with the exception of course of Brazil, which is Portuguese. Even today the Roman Catholic Church in Central and South America is the predominant religion. This shows us

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