The Voyage to the New World

The Voyage to the New World

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The Voyage to the New World

First of all, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castille got married in 1464. The main reason that they got married was to unite their kingdoms into Spain. The king and queen were Roman Catholic, so they gave power to certain people to convert non-Catholics to Catholicism. In 1482, the Roman Catholic monarchs renew the reconquista,
the military crusade ordered to conquer the remaining Muslim state in Iberia, Granada. In 1492, the Roman Catholic monarchs ordered all non-converted Jews expelled from Spain.

In April, 1492, Spain received reports that the Portuguese succeeded in reaching the Indian Ocean, therefore Spanish monarchs authorized Christopher Columbus to sail to Asia and establish trade and start to convert natives to Christianity. The reasons that the monarchs let Columbus sail were mainly to search for spices and profits, spread
Christianity, and to use some of their new technology like the caravel.

Columbus would receive one-tenth of all the profits, and governance of the
new lands would be shared by the monarchs and by Columbus.

There were mainly three different types of natives who lived in the Caribbean. There were the Ciboneys (in Cuba), Caribs (in the lesser Antilles), and Taino-Arawaks (in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispanola, and Puerto Rico). The population of the Caribbean Islands was probably not too much more than 1,500,000 of which about 1,000,000 lived mainly in Hispanola. Hispanola was the center of Taino culture. Between 1509 and
1520, the demand for native labor increased and the native population steeply decreased. Here is a table of how rapidly the population of the Tainos decreased:

1492- 1,000,000 (about) 1514- 28,000
1508- 92,000 1518- 16,000
1509- 62,000 1540- 250
1510- 66,000 1570- 125
1512- 27,000

By the 1540’s the native population of the Tainos did not even exceed 1,000.

In October 1492, Columbus’s ships were bound for Japan, China, and the Indies, but they arrived in the Bahamas. In May 1493, Columbus departed for his second voyage. The new goals were to settle the land, cultivate the land, assert royal authority over the whole area, convert the natives to Christianity, and mainly to search for gold and send it back to Spain. There were 17 ships, and about 1500 men on this voyage. Between 1494 and 1495, Columbus implemented a series of regulations to control the natives and to gain lots of wealth. Each adult must have delivered a certain amount of gold every three months, or else they would be punished by the Spaniards.

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The natives didn’t bring back
all of the gold that Columbus ordered, so he started enslaving and selling the natives to generate some more wealth. In April 1494, Columbus and his brothers start to treat their own men harshly. This included hangings of their own men. In the fall of 1494, Columbus received total command of all the people on the voyage. In March 1499, the king and queen appoint Francisco de Bobadilla governor and is sent to Hispanola with
instructions to Columbus and all Spaniards to submit to B! obadilla’s authority. In 1500, the king and queen ban enslavement in Spanish colonies; natives are to be converted to Christianity, and Christians are not to enslave fellow Christians. In the Indies, they interpret this to mean that they can enslave natives who refuse to convert
to Christianity. In August 1500, Bobadilla arrives in the Indies, and exerts his total authority. Columbus and his brothers do not submit to his authority, so Bobadilla has him arrested and shackled, and sent back to Spain. In about November 1500, Columbus is set free from prison, but he has no more power in the Indies. In 1506, Columbus dies in Spain. A man named Bartolame de las Casas is against the extermination of the natives so he says “if necessary, white and black slaves can be brought” to the Indies. So in 1518, African slaves begin to be shipped to the Indies. In 1518 to 1519, there was an outbreak of smallpox. One-third of the remaining natives are killed as well as many of the Spa!
niards there. By 1518, more than 20 million (actually about 50 million) enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas.

In 1519, Cortes was the general of an expedition to the Indies.

In March, he landed in Cozumel with 11 ships, 580 armed Spaniards, 17 horses, crossbows, dozens of guns, and 10 cannons. Cortes and his men fought their way up strong Mayan resistance up the coast. Whenever Cortes came upon a temple, he smashed the idols, had the blood-stained walls painted white, and installed a cross. In July 1519, some of his men were unsettled and were thinking of turning back, but Cortes sank all of his
remaining ships. In August 1519, Cortes and his forces proceeded inland with 500 men, 15 horses, and the cannons destroying temples and putting in crosses continually. In November 1519, Cortes arrested Montezuma accusing him of ordering an attack on some of
his men. In June 1520, Montezuma was stoned to death by his own men. In July 1520, Cortes and his forces flee Tenochtitlan for Tlascalan. At one particular battle, the Battle of Otumba, the Spanish barely escape the pursuing Aztecs. Only 400 Spaniards and 24 horses survive. All cannons and gunpowder were lost in the battle. In the Valley of Mexico, Tenochtitlan in particular, the people were stricken by an epidemic of
smallpox.

In the year of 1513, there was a document written in Spain called The Requirement. It was towards the Spanish conquistadors, but aimed for the natives that they came in contact with. It was mainly written to help convince the natives to convert to Christianity. It said that the document must be read to any native culture that they came into contact with. After it was read, the Indians had a choice to either convert to
Christianity, or not convert, and they had to put it into writing also.

The document said it was legal to start a war on the natives only if they didn’t convert to Christianity. According to a man named Bernardino de Sahagun, he never saw Cortes read this document to the Aztecs in the year 1519. Therefore, Cortes did not have the right to make war on the Aztecs legally.

In December 1520, Cortes gathered an army of allies, and from January through May 1521, he surrounded the city of Tenochtitlan, and finally in July, Cortes began the attack. He totally destroyed the city.

They knocked down buildings, and burned anything that could be burned.

150,00 native allies joined in the final assaults. During the Aztec-Spanish war, 240,000 Aztecs died, between 30,000-100,000 of the native allies were killed. The figures do not include the people killed by any kind of disease. As the defeated but alive Aztecs were herded out of the city, the women and the boys were considered property of individual
Spaniards. The men were put to work building a new city on top of the rubble of Tenochtitlan. The priests were executed, torn apart by dogs.

Bartolome de las Casas (1474-1566) was Spain’s defender of Amerindian rights. His parents were small merchants, but he abandoned his studies for that and went to soldiering. He went to Hispanola in 1502. He received grants of land and Indian labor. In 1515 he renounced all property and rights in the Americas and returned to Spain. He later went on a voyage with Hernan Cortes, and he wrote down what kind of horrible
treatment Cortes gave to the natives there. The Spaniards did things like, smash babies’
heads against walls, use some babies as food for their dogs, and once they stuffed almost the whole population of a town into only three of the houses. When all of the people were in the houses, they set fire to the houses. The houses easily burned to the ground, and burned all of the people in the houses easily also.

The Spaniards Greed was overwhelming. After an attack on an Aztec fiesta, they went to Motecuhzoma’s storehouse. All of his personal treasures were kept there. The Spaniards covered every part of the storehouse. All of Motecuhzoma’s treasures were brought out; fine bracelets, necklaces, ankle rings, little gold bell, and royal crowns.

When the Spaniards did all that, the natives still were happy to bring them food and water. Later, the Spaniards questioned Motecuhzoma and demanded more gold. They followed close by with their weapons out. With all the gold things, they made a huge pile and melted all of the gold into ingots. They took every little thing that looked good or just valuable.
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