Age of Discovery and Conquest: Prehistory–1763

Vocabulary

Beringia

land bridge that once connected what is now eastern Siberia in Russia to northwestern Canada and Alaska

colonization

act of settling in an area removed from one's place of origin and establishing political control over any indigenous inhabitants

Columbian Exchange

transfer between Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas of plants, animals, diseases, populations, and ideas following the 1492 voyage of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. The exchange had beneficial and detrimental results—devastating indigenous inhabitants of the Americas who had no immunity to many diseases from outside their borders.

conquistador

soldier who fought in the name of God and the Spanish Crown

encomienda

grant by the Spanish Crown giving a colonizer the right to demand forced labor and tributes—usually of gold or land—from indigenous peoples

hunter-gatherers

nomadic people who subsist by foraging for food. Many hunter-gatherers later transitioned to an agricultural livelihood.

indigenous

native to an area

isthmus

land bridge connecting two landmasses

Middle Passage

second stage of the transatlantic slave trade. For this passage enslaved Africans were chained, crowded into European ships, and transported to the Americas.

migration

movement of groups of people to new, permanent locations

Northwest Passage

sought-after sea route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean that avoided the North American land barrier. Explorers believed this passage would provide easy access to Asia.

transatlantic slave trade

second of three stages of slave trade during the 16th–19th centuries. This stage of the trade involved the transportation of African slaves to the Americas.

Viking

member of a seafaring Scandinavian army of the 9th–11th centuries. These warriors plundered and colonized much of Europe and were known in Old Norse as vikingar, or "pirates," because of their ferocious behavior.