European Colonial Empires in the Americas

Map 14.1:
European Colonial
Empires in the
By the beginning of the 18th century,
European powers had laid claim to most of the
Western Hemisphere.
Their wars and rivalries
during that century led to
an expansion of Spanish
and English claims, at
the expense of the
European rulers were driven by the enduring
rivalries of competing states. The growing &
relatively independent merchant class in a
rapidly commercializing Europe sought direct
access to Asian wealth in order to avoid the
reliance on Muslim intermediaries that they
found so distasteful.
empire had the
most territory
in the New
YouTube: CC WH Spanish Empire, Silver, & Runaway Inflation
Cycle of Conquest & Colonization
Document Analysis
• Work in groups of 4 to analyze the documents
• Discuss the following questions using evidence from
the documents:
– How did the Spanish and Native Americans view each
– How did the Spanish’s view of the natives justify their
conquest? Be specific.
– How did the Spanish justify their treatment of the
Conquest of Mexico Through Aztec
AP World History
Unit Three: 1450-1750
The peoples of central Mexico had long used a type of book
called a codex to record their history. Codices included
drawings and symbols painted by trained artist-scribes.
Although the Spanish destroyed most of these codices, the
codex tradition continued in a modified form in the century
following conquest. These new codices, assembled under
the supervision of European missionaries, were composed
largely by native people, many of them new converts to
Christianity and some literate in Latin and Spanish.
The following images are taken from the Florentine Codex
compiled under a Franciscan missionary that felt
understanding Aztec culture was key to conversion.
Because the missionary relied on Aztec informants and
artists, many scholars believe these codices represent an
Aztec point of view on the conquest. These were created
decades later, so they show influences from Christiana and
European culture, and not just the Aztec perspective.
1. Why might Aztec contributors to the codices
have included accounts of such supernatural
events preceding the arrival of the Spanish?
2. Why do you think the Spanish frequently
incorporated such accounts into their own
descriptions of the conquest?
How does this painting present the relationship between Cortes
and Moctezuma? Are they meeting as equals, enemies, allies, as
ruler and subject?
What do the items at the bottom of the image represent?
Does this image challenge or support the perception that the
Aztecs viewed the Spanish newcomers in religious terms?
The woman standing behind Cortes in Dona Marina, also known as
La Malinche. Cortes once wrote, “after God we owe this conquest
of New Spain to Dona Marina.” To what extent do you agree with
this, based on last night’s reading?
“[W]hen the dance was loveliest and when song was linked to
song, the Spaniards were seized with an urge to kill the
celebrants. They all ran forward, armed as if for battle. They
closed the entrances and passageways…they [they] rushed into
the Sacred Patio to slaughter the inhabitant…They attacked the
man who was drumming and cut off his arms. Then they cut off
his head, and it rolled across the floor. They attacked all the
celebrants stabbing them, sparing them , striking the with
swords..Others they beheaded..or split their heads to
pieces…The blood of the warriors flowed like water and
gathered into pools…[T]hey invaded every room, hunting and
1. What elements of the description above are reflected
in the painting?
2. What image of the Spanish does this painting reflect?
1. Whose perspective do you think it represented in this
image? Spanish, their Tlaxcala allies, or the Aztecs? How
might each of them understood this retreat differently?
2. In neither source in slides 9 and 10 are the Spanish are
portrayed with firearms. How might you understand their
3. Do you notice any evidence of cultural blending in this
1. How do these images, from the Florentine Codex,
an Aztec portrayal of the disease, represent the
impact of the smallpox epidemic, and the Aztec
response to it?
English & Spanish Colonies
European colonial rule in the Americas
★ cultures & policies of the colonizing
★ character of the Native American
★ economy established in a particular
English were late to the game of
& many felt the lands they had left
to take (New York, New
England, PA, and Virginia) were
left-over and worthless in
comparison to the treasures
of Central & SA (gold)
English & Spanish Colonies
Lands of the Aztecs and the
The Spanish empire ruled over the
most densely settled indigenous
populations in the Americas &
developed an economic
system based on commercial
agriculture & mining
Colonial rule replicated something
of the Spanish class hierarchy
while accommodating the
racially & culturally different
Indians & Africans.
The Colonial Class System
Native Indians
Black Slaves
Encomienda (en-koh-mee-en-duh)
Some Native Americans decided to aid the Spanish
in their initial invasion of the New World, mostly due
to old tribal rivalries.
Encomienda: system employed mainly by the
Spanish during colonization of the Americas to
regulate Native American labor (mostly farming &
Spanish crown granted Spaniards specified number of
natives for whom they were to take responsibility.
In theory, the receiver of the grant was to protect the
natives from warring tribes & to instruct them in the
Spanish language and in the Catholic faith: in
return they could extract tribute from the natives
in the form of labor, gold or other products.
Encomienda (en-koh-mee-en-duh)
In practice, the difference between encomienda &
slavery could be minimal. Natives were forced to do
hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and
death if they resisted.
In the former Inca Empire, for example, the system
continued the Incaic (and even pre-Incaic) Mita
traditions of extracting tribute under the form of labor.
The Influence of the Colonial Catholic Church
Spanish Mission
Our Lady of
Religious syncretism is the blending
of two belief systems
Religious syncretism often takes
place when foreign beliefs are
introduced to an indigenous belief
system and the teachings are
For the indigenous peoples of
Mexico, Catholic beliefs blended
with their native religious beliefs
Syncretism allowed the native
peoples to continue their traditions
while adapting to a changing world
Christian saints blended easily with
specialized indigenous gods
The above picture shows the
traditional offerings from a Mayan
festival with a picture of Jesus, a
central figure in the Christian religion.
Other Forms of Syncretism:
The Virgin de Guadalupe
The Virgin de Guadalupe is a cultural symbol that
unites Mexicans
The Catholic Church encouraged festivals that
coincided with indigenous festivals in order to
blend the two and appropriate indigenous
festivals as new Christian celebrations
“After the conquest, the church destroyed
shrines to indigenous gods and goddesses, and
tried to stamp out the cult of Tonantzin, an Aztec
virgin deity”
Tonantzin was the “honored mother” of Mexico
and a fertility goddess
Mary, mother of Jesus, merged to symbolize the
Mother figurehead in both Catholicism and
ancient Aztec beliefs
Source: Rose Anna Mueller, Virgin of Guadalupe
The Mayan cross is a pre-Christian cross.
Looking at the picture on the left, can you see evidence of syncretism?
Chamula Syncretism
•Chamulans worship in Cathedral built
by Spanish
•Town dedicated to John the Baptist,
priest comes once a year for baptisms
•Chamulans are Catholic by name;
helped keep their traditions alive under
Spanish rule
•No pews
•Floors covered in pine needles
•Catholic saints rest on tables posted in
church but represent Mayan gods
•Candles lit and people sit on floor and
pray below saints
•Sometimes chickens sacrificed
•Pox traditionally drunk, now substituted
with Coca-Cola
•No pictures allowed
Compare English & Spanish Colonies.
In the plantation colonies of Brazil & the Caribbean, colonial powers
ruled over regions where no earlier civilization existed & where the
production of sugar for export defined the economy.
Spanish colonists rarely included women & families. In these
regions, large numbers of Africans were imported as slave labor,
& a considerable amount of racial mixing took place. From the
mixed-race population were drawn much of the urban skilled
workforce & supervisors in the sugar industry, as well as some
prominent members of the community.
More slaves were voluntarily set free by their owners in Brazil than
in North America.
Slaves Working in a
Brazilian Sugar Mill
Eye Spy Activity
Compare English & Spanish Colonies.
A variation on the colonial rule of a plantation-based
economy occurred in British North America, where
the raising of different crops (including tobacco,
cotton, rice, and indigo), less racial mixing, & a self
reproducing slave workforce shaped a different
In British North America, prevailing ideas about "race"
was that any amount of African or “black” ancestry
would make someone African or “black” - this idea
was sadly, long=lasting.
Didn’t try to live among the natives.
Compare English & Spanish Colonies.
3rd distinctive type of colonial society:
Northern British colonies of New
England, New York, & Pennsylvania.
Upon the arrival of British settlers,
these regions were not heavily
settled with Native Americans, in
part because of the ravages of
European-borne epidemic diseases.
Compare English & Spanish Colonies.
Availability of land, the climate & geography of North
America, & the “outsider” status of many British
Economic & social system of small independent
farmers without sharp class hierarchy, large
rural estates, or dependent laborers.
Weak British rule, the largely literate population of
the region developed traditions of local selfgovernment, elected colonial assemblies, &
vigorously contested the prerogatives of royal
governors sent to administer their affairs.
The British colonists sought to escape European
traditions, while Spanish/Portuguese colonists
sought to recreate them in the Americas.
Why So
What is a one major reason for the higher
literacy rates in British North American
colonies than in Spanish/Portuguese
Protestantism, which encouraged the reading
of the Bible, was the dominant form of
Christianity in the British colonies. Women &
families accompanied men & cultural
expectation was reading & interpretation of the
European Empires in the Americas
New Colonial Rivals

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