Essay about The Role of Disease in European Exploration and Colonization

Essay about The Role of Disease in European Exploration and Colonization

Length: 1892 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Role of Disease in European Exploration and Colonization


Human mobility, in terms of European transcontinental exploration and colonization, began to truly flourish after the 1400s. This travel, inspired by financial motives and justified by religious goals, resulted in the European dominance and decimation of countless cultures in both the Americas and Eurasia. While at first glance it seems as though this dominance was achieved through mainly military means - European militias, like Spanish conquistadors, rolling over native tribes with their technologically advanced weapons - the reality is significantly more complex. The Europeans, most likely unknowingly, employed another, equally deadly weapon during their exploits. With their travel, they brought with them the infectious diseases of their homelands, exposing the defenseless natives to foreign malady that their bodies had no hope of developing immunities against. Because of the nature of disease and their limited knowledge about its modes of infection, the Europeans were able to dispense highly contagious and mortal illnesses while limiting their contraction of any native ones to the new territories. In short, they were able to kill without being killed. In this way, the travel of disease in conjunction with the travel of humans in a search for exotic commodities was able to limit or even halt the development of some cultures while allowing others to flourish at exponential rates.

Before discussing how disease has shaped history and altered cultures, it is important to understand how they themselves have developed and changed throughout history. Disease, in the broadest definition of the word, has been present since the beginning of humanity. Even ...


... middle of paper ...


...hat have prevented many outbreaks. Beginning in the 1300s with the Black Death, decrees prevented travel in hopes of containing the disease. Later, after the age of exploration, quarantine again was implemented to limit the spread of new diseases. And as Cippola notes, it is probably the limited travel restricted to the coastlines that prevented the contraction of many of these New World diseases in the first place. Nonetheless, travel, be it limiting it within countries or encouraging it in new lands, has influenced the spread of cultures and simultaneously the spread of disease

Sources Cited:

Cipolla, Carlo M. Guns, sails and empires; technological innovation and the early phases of European expansion, 1400-1700. Manhattan, Kan. : Sunflower University Press, 1985.

Ponting, Clive. Ch.11 from "A Green History of the World," St. Martins Press, NYC, 1991

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Theme of Colonialism in Shakespeare's Tempest Essay

- The Tempest, by Shakespeare, offers the reader a variety of themes. The one theme that stands out the most is that of colonialism. During the time of Shakespeare, many European countries such as Spain, France, and England, were expanding their borders by taking over less developed countries, referred to as colonies. During this time of exploitation, there was skepticism concerning the possible success of the colonies. While some scholars believe that the play is about the Americas, I argue that the play reflects on colonialism in general and how it is destined for failure which is shown through the character’s relationships throughout the play....   [tags: colonization, shakespeare, americas, play]

Powerful Essays
2638 words (7.5 pages)

Exploration And Colonization Impacted The Native Peoples Essay

- Exploration and Colonization impacted the native peoples in positive and negative ways. These positive and negative impacts include religion, disease, and technology. These expeditions were occurring during the time that many European nations started searching for new trade routes and started spreading their influence to many new cultures. These people had their way of life, but the Europeans thought their way was better so they pushed their ways on the natives. Some Europeans had good relations with natives, but others did not....   [tags: Colonialism]

Powerful Essays
867 words (2.5 pages)

European Exploration And Colonization Of Native Americans Essay

- European exploration and colonization was immensely impactful on the lives of the Native Americans. Before the arrival of European explorers, Native Americans had developed their own complex culture. Native Americans showed that they were more than just indigenous barbarians by building magnificent pyramids, creating calendars, implementing superior farming practices, and designing larger cities. Native Americans also lived a more healthy lifestyle through frequent bathing, unlike the Europeans....   [tags: Native Americans in the United States]

Powerful Essays
1108 words (3.2 pages)

The European Exploration And Colonization Of North America Essay

- Rough Draft Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth century there was a great expansion into the European exploration and colonization of North America. Many Europeans sought to change their lives in the new world. Here, they could start new life, and live free of the religious persecution occurring in Europe. The British were one of the main Europeans groups whom settled and colonized North America. The British and Native tribes had a very unique relationship that was at times civil and mutually beneficial but often, there were times where the British colonization had many negative effects on native tribes such as war, annexation of land and infecting native tribes with old world diseases t...   [tags: United States]

Powerful Essays
941 words (2.7 pages)

The First Age Of Colonization Essays

- The first age of colonization, puts a spotlight on the birth of European exploration of the Americas and the peoples who inhabited them. Numerous countries of Europe sent adventurers to explore, with primary intentions to discover resources, to trade, and spread Catholicism to the “uncivilized” natives of the areas. Spain, after the Reconquista, started their golden age. After Columbus’ discovery of the new world, explorers and treasure ships made their way to the Americas. The Spanish conquest through South America was a huge success in terms of Spanish influence, power, and economy....   [tags: Spain, Spanish colonization of the Americas]

Powerful Essays
736 words (2.1 pages)

The Colonization Of The Americas Essay

- The colonization of the Americas by the Spanish, starting in the late 15th century, was marked by the violent suppression and exploitation of the indigenous populations. Legitimized by royal support and proselytizing papal decree, the colonists expanded territory by force and enslaved natives for the purpose of labor. The colonists had differing views on the practices involving the natives and produced varying descriptions of them. The way in which these men and other settlers viewed the native cultures, practices, and achievements provided the justification or condemnation of the actions that unfolded around them....   [tags: Colonialism, Spanish colonization of the Americas]

Powerful Essays
1337 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Colonization of the Moon

- The colonization of the moon is the first step for humankind to become and interplanetary species. It is the only logical choice, becauseof its close proximity to Earth. There will be many advantages if the colonization of the moon is success. The colonization will consist of three mission, each bringingmore humans to work in and support the base. The first mission will carry twenty-five people and will install the basic necessities. The first components to be installed would be the power plants and communication stools, as well as the habitats....   [tags: Space Exploration]

Powerful Essays
714 words (2 pages)

Spanish Colonization And The New World Essay example

- Starting in 1492 with Columbus and continuing for 350 years, Spain settled and conquered almost all of South America, the American Southwest, and the Caribbean. The Spanish empire grew to be the largest European empire since ancient Rome, and it used the wealth that it obtained from the Americas to support nearly endless warfare in Europe, which protected the Americas with a large navy and a very powerful army and brought Catholicism to the New World. At this time, Spain saw the New World as unruly and uncivilized because most of the people there were pagan....   [tags: Colonialism, Spanish colonization of the Americas]

Powerful Essays
1257 words (3.6 pages)

The Role of Genetics in Alzheimer's Disease Essay

- The Role of Genetics in Alzheimer's Disease The call came at 9:05 p.m. on January 20, 2004. Mom had just finished telling the news about the girl's grandfather. He had Alzheimer's Disease and was not doing well at all. The ruling was that he probably would not make it through the night. She knew exactly what the news was the moment her mom said, "No." After the news came, the decision was made they would leave the next day to attend the funeral. This girl began wondering, "If grandpa had Alzheimer's do I have a chance of getting it too....   [tags: Alzheimer's Disease Essays]

Powerful Essays
3023 words (8.6 pages)

Colonization Essay

- Colonization During the early years of colonization and exploration in North America and Africa, many New World "collided" and brought to each other many new things, both good and bad. There were exchanges of ideas, products and crops that greatly advanced the cultures of all involved, but on the other hand, new diseases, and harsh treatment of one another were also present. Before the arrival of the Europeans to present day United States, the Native Americans treated their homeland with respect and with spiritual properties....   [tags: American America History]

Free Essays
508 words (1.5 pages)