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Chapter 1
New World Beginnings
Peopling the Americas

Many different theories
– Land Bridge
– Kayaks/boats, walking etc.
Massive diversity by 1492 (Columbian
encounter)
 Agriculture (some areas)= population/
civilization growth nation-states

The origins of the first Americans remain something of a mystery. According to the most plausible
theory of how the Americas were populated, for some 25,000 years people crossed the Bering land
bridge from Eurasia to North America. Gradually they dispersed southward down ice-free valleys,
populating both the American continents.
The European World
Crusades opens west to goods
 Muslim middlemen, expensive
 Marco Polo- China
 1450 invention of the caravel –
importance?
 New trade posts- slaves (Portuguese)
 New nation-state of Spain

Goods on the early routes passed through so many hands along the way that their
ultimate source remained mysterious to Europeans.
The European World
Time was right for Columbus- perfect
conditions
 October 12, 1492 reached Bahamas
(Arawaks)
 Lasting effects- interdependent economic
systems

Interdependence
EUROPE= markets, capital, technology
AFRICA= slave labor
AMERICAS= raw materials, foodstuff
The Columbian Exchange
Columbus’s discovery initiated the kind of explosion in international commerce that a later age would
call “globalization.”
When Worlds Collide
Foodstuffs= population explosion
 European crops/animals
 Sugar Revolution in Caribbean
 Europeans= disease and epidemic

– up to 90% death rate effect?
Spanish Conquistadores
Treaty of Tordesillas- Spanish/Portuguese
“claim”
 “God, gold, glory” (not necessarily in that
order)
 Precious metal increase in Old World
(outcome on economic system)
 Encomienda System

Mexican Conquest
1519 Hernando Cortes left for Mexico
 Local tribe unrest (Aztec tribute system)
 Cortes= Quetzalcoatl?
 Tenochtitlan
 Noche triste (June 30, 1520)
 Rapid fall of Aztec empire by small group
of Spaniards (why?)
 Assimilation/syncretism

Artists’ Rendering of Tenochtitlán
Amid tribal strife in the fourteenth century, the Aztecs built a capital on a small island in a
lake in the central Valley of Mexico. From here they oversaw the most powerful empire
yet to arise in Mesoamerica. Two main temples stood at the city’s sacred center, one
dedicated to Tlaloc, the ancient rain god, and the other to Huitzilopochtli, the tribal god,
who was believed to require human hearts for sustenance.
Spanish America
Spanish replace Aztec/Incans (Mexico,
Peru) silver producing
 Subjugation of native population
 St. Augustine founded 1565
 Conversion to Christianity Pope’s Revolt
1680
