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Motives for Exploration
• Need a route by sea to Asia (India and China)
– The Ottoman Empire, due to its conquests, controls
the land route to Asia
• Motives for European exploration:
– God – spread their faith to new lands
– Glory – want fame and adventure
– Gold – search for wealth
• Able to expand due to new technologies:
– Better ships and cartography (map-making)
– New technologies from the Arabs, such as the
compass and astrolabe
Portugal Takes the Lead
• Portugal was the first country to launch large-scale
voyages of exploration
• In 1420 Prince Henry the Navigator sponsors
expeditions to sail along the western coast of Africa
– His ultimate goal was to find a water route around
Africa to India
– Portuguese sailors learned that both gold and slaves
were available on Africa’s west coast
• Bartholomeu Dias was the first European to sail around
the tip of Africa looking for a route to India in 1488 – he
was forced to turn back due to violent storms
• Vasco da Gama set out for India in 1497 and ten months
later he became the first European to reach India by sea
– Brings back a cargo of spice, makes a profit of several
thousand percent
• Pedro Cabral sailed to the west and ended up sighting
and claiming land that became known as Brazil
• The Portuguese were interested in setting up trading
centers, not interested in conquering
– They took the spice trade from the Muslims by force
– Had the advantage since they put cannons on their
Spain Sails West
• While the Portuguese sailed east to reach the source of
the spice trade, the Spanish sailed west
• Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain financed
Christopher Columbus to sail west to reach Asia in 1492
– Columbus thinks that the circumference of the world
is not as large as others thought it was
– Reaches Cuba in 1492, but thinks he is in Asia, on
islands known as the Indies
– Sails a total of four missions – explores many
Caribbean islands and Honduras, which he names the
Indies and calls the people Indians
– The Spanish call Columbus a hero since they think he
has found a new route to Asia
• In 1502 Amerigo Vespucci sailed along the coast of
South America and he finally realized that this wasn’t
Asia, but a new land
– It is later named America in his honor and the
Spanish set out to explore it
• Vasco Nunez de Balboa led an expedition across the
Isthmus of Panama and became the first European to
view the Pacific Ocean
• Ferdinand Magellan decided to sail west around the
world in 1519 with five ships and 250 men
– Magellan was killed in a fight in the Philippines
against the native people but his men continued on
– In 1522 18 survivors from Magellan’s expedition
arrived back in Spain, the first people to ever
circumnavigate the world
• Treaty of Tordesillas – signed by both Spain and Portugal
in 1494 that gives a line of demarcation dividing their
new territories
– Each feared that the other would claim some of its
newly discovered territories
– The treaty gives an imaginary north-to-south line
through the Atlantic Ocean and the easternmost part
of South America
• Everything west of this line went to Spain and
Portugal got everything east of the line
Other Explorers
• John Cabot sailed to and explored the Atlantic coast of
Canada and New England
– He set out on a second voyage, but his entire fleet
• Sir Francis Drake sailed around the tip of South America
and explored its west coast
– He stopped in what is now California and then went
on to become the second man to circumnavigate the
• Henry Hudson explored parts of eastern America and
had a river and a bay named after him
• Jacques Cartier sailed past the island of
Newfoundland into the St. Lawrence river
– He claimed all the land along the river as the
province of New France (Canada)
Explorers and their Routes
Chapter 16, section 1, pages 472-473
The Spanish Empire
• The Spanish don’t just settle for a trading empire, they
are going to conquer and colonize
• Conquistadors = Spanish conquerors of the Americas
– Had incredible success due to guns, horses, and
– Hernan Cortez arrived with 600 men to take on the
Aztec empire
• Other Native American groups joined them since
they hated the Aztec
• Around 1520 Cortez defeats the Aztec empire
– Ten years later Francisco Pizarro arrives with 200 men
to take on the Inca empire
• Pizarro took the new Inca emperor prisoner and
killed him although they received lots of gold for
• He then conquered the Inca empire
– By 1550 Spain controlled northern Mexico and the
western part of South America
• Spain created a system of colonial administration
– The Spanish kings chose officials called viceroys to
rule a large area in the king’s name
– Encomienda system – a colonist was given a certain
amount of land and a number of Native Americans to
work the land for him
• Catholic missionaries convert and baptize hundreds of
thousands of natives
• Drop in population among the Native Americans caused
by forced labor, starvation, and disease
– European diseases caused much death to the native
populations who lacked immunity to such diseases,
such as smallpox
– Haiti went from a population of 100,000 when
Columbus arrived to only 300 by 1570
– Mexico’s population dropped from 25 million to 3
• Decreased by 30% in the first ten years following
contact with the Europeans
– The Inca Empire decreased from 13 million in 1492 to
2 million by 1600
Other Colonies
• Portugal colonized Brazil
• France established several colonies in New France or
– Only small groups of traders colonized these areas
– The French also did not enslave Native Americans, in
fact many traders married Native American women
– Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec
– Rene-Robert La Salle claimed the enormous
Mississippi region for France and named it Louisiana
in honor of Louis XIV
• The Dutch established New Netherlands and bought the
island of Manhattan from Native Americans, founding
the city of New Amsterdam
– The Dutch were more interested in the profitable
spice trade and they eventually lost New Netherlands
to the English, who renamed it New York
• The first English colony established was the settlement
of Jamestown in Virginia
– The English soon established the thirteen colonies
• Rivalries over trading and colonies eventually led to war
The Columbian Exchange and
Economic Concepts
• The Columbian Exchange = global transfer that
happened when large-scale contact between European
and American societies led to the widespread
exchange of plants, animals, and disease
– Plants such as potatoes and tomatoes were
introduced into Europe, while animals such as
horses and pigs were introduced into the Americas
• Colony = a settlement of people living in a new
territory, linked with the parent country by trade and
direct gov’t control
– Played a role in the theory of mercantilism
• Mercantilism is an economic theory that the prosperity
of a nation depends on a large supply of gold and silver
– A nation’s strength depended on its wealth, which
was measured by the amount of gold and silver it
– Mercantilists believed that there was a fixed amount
of wealth in the world – had to take wealth and
power away from other nations
– Could build wealth in two ways:
• Extract gold and silver from mines
• Have a favorable balance of trade
– Balance of trade = the difference in value between
what a nation imports and exports over time
• Favorable = export more than import
– Place high tariffs (taxes) on imported goods
– Favorable balance of trade was a central goal for
mercantilist nations
• Establishing colonies was also essential to the
mercantilist system since colonies were useful as:
– Sources of raw materials for the parent country
– Markets for finished goods from the parent country
– In the mercantilist view, colonies existed only to
benefit the home country
• Capitalism = economic system in which most economic
activity is carried on by private individuals or
organizations in order to seek a profit
• Joint-stock companies = investors pooled their money
to fund business ventures in which investors bought
shares of stock in the company
– Idea of shared risk
– Each shareholder receives a portion of the profit
based on the number of shares owned
– In 1607 the Virginia Company of London established
The Atlantic Slave Trade
• Colonization greatly increased the slave trade
• Plantations = large agricultural estates
– Shortage of labor in the Americas due to the death of
millions of Native Americans
• Triangular Trade = pattern of trade connecting Europe,
Africa, and the Americas
Middle Passage
• Middle Passage = journey of slaves from Africa to the
Americas, usually lasted three to six weeks
– Horrible conditions and high death rate – 20% did not
• Number of slaves imported
– 16th century – 275,000
– 17th century – over one million
– 18th century – six million
• Sources of slaves – Africa
– Prisoners of war prior to the arrival of Europeans
– Local merchants at slave markets on coast – exchange
slaves for gold and guns
– Some Europeans organized slave raids
• Effects of the slave trade
– Separated families
– Depopulation in some areas
– Strongest men and women taken, the future leaders
of the villages
– Increased warfare