1 The New World[1]

1 The New World[1] - Setting the Stage: Europe on the Eve...

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Setting the Stage: Europe on the Eve of Conquest 5 th Century AD – St. Brendan (Irish monk) reported finding enchanted islands far out in the Atlantic 10 th Century AD – Scandinavian seafarers (Norsemen/Vikings) establish settlements in New World 984 – Eric the Red leads band from Iceland to Greenland Shortly after 984, Leif (Eric’s son) establishes Vinland (L’Anse aux Meadows) in Newfoundland Indian hostility + poor communication + climatic cooling + political upheaval = failure Until the early fifteenth century, fierce provincial loyalties, widespread ignorance of classical learning, and dreadful plagues such as the Black Death discourage people from thinking expansively about world 15 th Century – Europe became more prosperous, political authority became more centralized, and the Renaissance fostered a more expansive outlook among literate people in the arts and sciences 1. Slow but steady population growth after 1450, leads to rise in price of land Landlords profited and demand more luxury items – spices, silks, jewels from Asian ports Recruited armies and supported expensive organizations with national taxes Created effective national courts 3. Reliable technical knowledge comes from the Renaissance Drew heavily on the work of Arabic scholars, who had preserved Classical knowledge Generated great intellectual curiosity about the world beyond the Mediterranean Johann Gutenburg invents printing from movable type 1440s = spread of knowledge By 1500, Spain ranks as a world power but lacks natural resources and good seaports Reconquista – war against independent states in southern Spain earlier captured by Muslims Entire Iberian Peninsula is united under Christian rulers as result Conquistadores – eager for personal glory & material gain, uncompromising in religion, & unswerving in loyalty to crown Conquer Canary Islands, where they develop harsh labor systems that precipitate slavery Christopher Columbus petitions Ferdinand and Isabella for financial backing Born in Genoa in 1451 Knowledge that world is round is widespread, but debate is on size Columbus estimates distance to mainland of Asia to be 3000 nautical miles Actual distance is 10,600 nautical miles Portugal’s success in Vasco de Gama’s route around Africa spurs Spanish drive for power Provided with small fleet – Nina, Pinta, nao Santa Maria – and sets sail for Cathay in Aug. 1492 Sights island in Bahamas after 33 days at sea (from Canary Islands), concludes it’s Asia Returns to the New World three more times, but never finds treasure December 1500 – Amerigo Vespucci published sensational accounts of his travels in Atlantic German mapmakers become convinced that “America” is distinct from Asia Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) divided entire world along a line located 270 leagues west of the Azores; any new lands discovered west of the line belonged to Spain; Portugal’s only asset is Brazil
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2012 for the course HIST 1320 taught by Professor Murphy during the Spring '08 term at Texas State.

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1 The New World[1] - Setting the Stage: Europe on the Eve...

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