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1 1 In the 15th and 16th century, interest in exploration had reached its peak. Encouraged by monarchs such as Prince Henry the Navigator, many Europeans set off to find new trades routes to the East so they could bring back spices that were in high demand. In 1492, Christopher Columbus set out to find a trade route to the Indies but instead discovered the Americas which had a large impact on the European economy and society. Driven by a motives such as converting the Amerindians, conquering new lands, and gaining glory, the Europeans began to conquer the New World. When the Europeans discovered the new lands, they already held a prejudice against the Amerindians. The conquistadors viewed them as godless heathens who were inferior and did not see them as equal people which caused attitudes such as the Black Legend. Though the Europeans conquering had some positive effects, such as the establishment of the Colombian trade and increased wealth for European merchants, there were many consequences of the European settlement. Thousands of deaths were caused by diseases like smallpox, which wiped out much of the Amerindian population and also violent warfare between the Amerindians and the Europeans. To begin, Europeans were motivated to explore by their desires for new land, personal betterment, and converting the Amerindians to christianity. In a letter to explorer Christopher Columbus, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expressed their desire for him to claim islands and continents for Spain. They then went on to promise him that he would be placed in charge of these new lands if he did so which would place him in a position of great power (Doc 1). This exemplifies two of the main motivations for European exploration; expansion of territory and the improvement of one s position in society. The desire for moving up in society is also evident in a letter from Fra. Soncino to Ludovico regarding the voyages of John Cabot. In it, he discusses how the men involved in the voyage were gifted with islands and with higher positions in society such as counts (Doc 3). In the age of exploration,

2 2 position in society meant everything and the idea that one s place could be made better by exploring for the crown was a strong motivator. Besides a higher place in society and the desire for expanded land, the other major motivation was the religious based desire to convert the Amerindian population to the Catholic religion. This is clear in Queen Isabella s letter to Pope Alexander IV in which she asks for his financial backing on the grounds that her explorers would concentrate on converting the native people to Catholicism (Doc 4). Converting the Amerindians to Catholicism was also publically backed by Pope Paul III where he stated that the Amerindians were in fact capable of understanding christianity and that they wanted to learn about it (Doc 7). Prior to this, there had already been efforts to convert them but this public backing drove more people to the new land with the primary goal of converting Amerindians to Catholicism. As a catholic Pope, Pope Paul the third s point of view is biased because he sought to spread Catholicism to the new world so he could gain more power and wealth. Thus, this document is not reliable because he likely exaggerated the Amerindians eagerness to convert to Christianity because it would encourage missionaries to go to the New World and spread Catholicism. Furthermore, the attitudes held by Europeans during the age of exploration were very contradictory to to the personal beliefs of Pope Paul himself. Pope Paul III believed that humans upon the Earth were equal and in need of the Catholic religion. These humans even included the Amerindians,who Pope Paul III viewed as not savages but, simply lost souls who were in need of religion. This personal attitude towards the Amerindians is displayed through a variety of documents written by his holiness himself. Within one of the speeches titled Sublimus Dei, Pope Paul III stated that the Amerindians were in need of the lord but, the Amerindians were to be treated humanely and not enslaved or subjugated in any manner (Doc 7). Sadly, this attitude held by the Pope did not carry over and many of the invading Europeans held the attitude that they were superior. The invading Europeans

3 3 would terrorize some of the Amerindians and eventually the Black Legend was created that made many people view the Spanish with contempt. None would have more of a harsh attitude towards the Europeans than Bartolome de Las Casas himself as found within his book, Historia de las Indias. With vitriolic language las Casas states that the invading Spanish were nothing but murderous that they were attacking a nation of peaceful people. This attitude would spread very quickly throughout the Old and New World and the Black Legend would begin to form (Doc 8). Thus, due to corruption the Pope was given no choice but, to once again reassert his attitude stating that the Amerindians did not deserve to be enslaved and should not be deprived of anything under any cost. The Pope issued this powerful proclamation within a papal bull. It was titled Ipsa Veritas (Doc 9). Interestingly enough though, even though there was such a sharp contrast between the attitude of the Pope and the invading Europeans themselves there was another attitude created the viewed Columbus and many other of the explorers as saints who were helping a people in need.this can be found within a painting by John Vanderlyn (Doc 10). As a European painter, Vanderlyn s point of view is biased because he sought to glorify Columbus s discoveries and make it seem like the Amerindians desperately needed him. This document is not reliable because, to make his point, Vanderlyn likely exaggerated the natives desperation because in 1842 England was starting to occupy India and this painting could have been propaganda so as to convince the people in India that England s occupation was a positive thing. The European Age of Exploration also brought about many consequences; both for the Amerindians and for the europeans. Many Amerindians died from the diseases carried over by the Europeans which included smallpox. Smallpox, an illness the natives had no immunity for, spread rapidly through the Aztec population and killed the majority of the population (Doc 5). Obviously, since the painter of the picture was a Catholic missionary, he would want people to see the Amerindians as

4 4 victims so he could create sympathy for their plight which would, in turn, bring more missionaries to the New World to help them and to spread Catholicism. The consequences for Europeans mainly stemmed from the on going warfare between them and the Amerindian populations. In Magellan s last voyage around the world, he was shot with an arrow that left him badly wounded. A few of his loyal men stayed behind with their captain, leaving them at the mercy of the natives while the rest were forced to retreat and temporarily pause the exploration (Doc 6). Loss of life and mass killings were well known consequences but there were others including the failure of the intended missions that brought the europeans to the New World. In his Historia de las Indias, Bartolome de Las Casas describes the atrocities that were committed against the people many of the Spaniards had gone to convert and states that they had not done what they intended to (Doc 8). This failing was brought about because the explorers became blinded by their own desires and therefore, neglected their larger purpose. This neglect served to kill many of the Amerindians, leaving their populations in ruin. However, this author, because he was a Catholic missionary that had previously been involved in committing the same cruelties he then admonished, cannot be trusted to provide an accurate account. He was likely trying to present himself as better than the other explorers and conquerors by pointing out their flaws and not mentioning his own past which in turn would get him into the favor of the current pope, Paul III. Pope Paul III released a papal bull in 1537 that encouraged the explorers to focus on converting the Amerindians to Catholicism because, even though they were outside the faith, they were still men and should be treated accordingly (Doc 9). By showing Pope Paul III that the other explorers had not heeded his instructions while he had, Bartolome de Las Casas would find himself gifted with the favor of the pope; a position greatly desired. In conclusion, The European age of exploration was a period in which lands were conquered

5 5 and new societies were formed in the New World. The Europeans began with simple motives that were pure at heart such as converting the Amerindians of the New World and gaining glory for one s family but these motives became corrupted by the biased attitudes of the conquistadors towards the native people, disregarding the Pope s wishes. This led to consequences such as the death of entire populations of Amerindians and the loss of many European lives. In short, by analyzing the events of the European age of exploration, one can determine that their discovery of the new world was anything except peacful.

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