HIST 1301 Topic Two: European Exploration and Colonization Columbus did not discover a new world. He established contact between two worlds, both already old. --- John H. Parry Introduction During the Middle Ages, the major unifying force in Europe was the Church (now the Roman Catholic Church). At the end of the Middle Ages, ca. 1400 CE, Europe was almost in a state of collapse. Famine (starting in 1317), the Black Plague (which entered Genoa in 1347), the Hundred Year's War (which lasted on and off for 117 years) and various other calamities had brought the European population almost to its knees. By 1600 CE however, Europeans had colonies on every continent except for Antarctica. How did the demoralized Europeans, confined to the Mediterranean Basin in 1400, manage to expand all over the globe within two centuries. Furthermore, how did this affect the balance of power between Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia? Between the years of 1400 to 1600 Europe was transitioning from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. These changes would make the Europeans the dominant power in the world, a place it still holds today (we can argue that the United States is an offshoot of European colonization). To put it another way, the Western world has dominated the globe since the year 1600. Transition from Medieval to Renaissance In the introduction, I might have painted a grim picture of Europe in the 14th century; and it was grim. On the other hand, by 1300, Europe was overpopulated. Its farmers could not produce enough to feed the population of the continent. Even marginal land was cultivated for agricultural use. It sounds harsh, but famine and plague culled the population, and made the standard of living rise for the common European person (if you survived that is). It is estimated that 35% of the European population perished in the 14th century. The disruption of social, political, economic and even religious institutions would have lasting effects on the entire globe. Political Change In the Middle Ages, European countries were really decentralized provinces, ruled by local noblemen. The Black Plague allowed kings (or queens) to concentrate power in the hands of the monarchy and to break the power of the nobility. These new centralized states relied on bureaucracy to run these new nation-states. As a matter of fact, this was the first time in European history that we see national states. What does this mean? Well, the national government had the means to mobilize state resources for a variety of things: control the economy, collect taxes, raise and keep a standing army/navy. In addition, politically centralized national states funded exploration and then colonization. Economic Change In the year 1095, Pope Urban II called the First Crusade, the only successful military crusade. What the Europeans found in the Middle East were "luxury items", especially spices. The problem was that Europe didn't produce anything that the Muslims of the Middle East wanted. In other words, the Europeans had to PAY in gold and silver for eastern products. The only continent that still had gold and silver mines was Africa, so Europe traded with Africa for precious metals in order to buy luxury goods from the East. At first, it was the independent citystates of Italy (Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Florence) that benefitted from this trade. In 1452, however, the Ottoman Turks finally achieved their goal and conquered Constantine's great city. Now called Istanbul, Constantinople was the hub of trade routes going east and west. The price of luxury goods in Europe went up because Christian caravans were taxed. European nations started looking for a way around Constantinople. Since the land route was effectively closed, this meant going by sea. Technological Change The Portuguese especially made great strides in sailing technology. Faster ships, better navigation tools, lateen-rigged sails and accurate maps assured that the Portuguese (who became an independent kingdom in 1139) were the first to get in their ships and go out to explore. Since Portugal faced the Atlantic, not the Mediterranean, it was only natural that they went outward, and were the first to create a global trading empire (see below). Religious Change Because of the horrors of the 14th century, the European population needed the solace of religion. Historical periods often overlap, however, and the late Medieval period coincided with the beginnings of the Renaissance. Now is not the time to tell the full story of the Renaissance, but the Church did start a massive remodeling program starting around 1350, including building a basilica dedicated to St. Peter in Rome. All of this church building, hiring architects and artists costs money. At a time when the populace of Europe were suffering psychologically, it seemed as if their religion just wanted their money. One especially lucrative practice was the selling of indulgences. An indulgence lessened your time in purgatory (purgatory is the Catholic half-way house, the place you go if you haven't been really good, or really bad). The more money you spent, the less time in purgatory, and the quicker you get to heaven. The Church made a horde of money selling indulgences. In one of the German states, a Catholic priest and monk (they aren't the same thing) questioned some of the Churches practices, including the selling of indulgences. His name was Martin Luther, and in 1517 he wrote a document called the 95 Theses, which he nailed on the church door of his home town in Wittenberg. The church door was the town bulletin board since everyone went to church. Wittenberg was a university town, and at first Luther just wanted to start an intellectual discussion about Church practices. Instead he started a revolution. Called the Protestant Reformation, Luther caused a major split within Western Christianity. By the end, 60% of Europe was Catholic (Spain, France, half of the German States) and 40% was Protestant (England, the Netherlands, the other half of the German States). There are major differences between the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church; the most tangible one being Catholic priests are to remain celibate, while Protestant ministers are allowed to marry. For our purposes, the split in Christianity meant that the country colonizing wanted to spread the correct word of God to the heathens. Portugal The Portuguese were the first to go out and explore. Their motives were fairly simple: they weren't engaged in the Mediterranean trade, they had a head start on sailing technology, they concluded their Reconquista in 1179 (they had been a kingdom since 1139) and they had the backing of the Pope. Portuguese explorers set sail down to the coastline of western Africa, where they set up feitorias, or factories, that acted as a trading post, navigation center, resupplying station and customs house (tax collection). Eventually, the Portuguese had over 50 feitorias stretching from Portugal, down the western African coast, up the eastern African coast, and over to India and China. Goa and Macao are two cities that were once Portuguese feitorias. At first, the Portuguese established their factories on the west coast of Africa, but couldn't get around the tip of Africa. Ask yourself why that might be? Finally, a Portuguese explorer, caught in a storm, was blown around the horn of Africa. His name was Bartolommeo Diaz. Working his way back west, Diaz mapped the coordinates for the route around the southern tip of Africa. Using Diaz' map, another Portuguese explorer by the name of Vasco de Gama sailed around Africa, and made the trip to India. By the way, you didn't make any long term plans if you were one of these explorers. de Gama's round trip to India and back took three years. The result of de Gama's trip was that it gave Portugal a monopoly on the African route to India and China. We don't really think of Portugal as a world power, but by 1520, it was the richest nation in Europe, bringing back boatloads of luxury goods from the exotic East. The other major holding that Portugal obtained was Brazil. In 1494, the Pope split the "New World" by drawing a vertical line on a map. Called the Treaty of Tordesillas, everything to the west of the line would belong to Spain and everything to the east would belong to Portugal. This is why Brazilians (the people, not the nuts) speak Portuguese today. The Portuguese Empire fell when Portugal itself was conquered by Spain in 1580 and ceased to be an independent kingdom. By 1600, both the Dutch and the English were swooping in the take over the remnants of Portugal's territory in Africa, India and China. Christoforo Colombo In 1496, Ferdinand of Aragon and Ysabel of Castile were married, unifying all of Spain. Under the two monarchs, the Spanish Reconquista was finally completed in 1491 when the last Moorish stronghold of Grenada, was conquered. In fact, Ferdinand and Ysabel are best known for freeing Spain from rule. Ferdinand and Ysabel did something else however. In 1492, they financed a voyage of exploration for an Italian sailor from Genoa: a man named Christoforo Colombo, or in English Christopher Columbus. Columbus was convinced that if a person sailed west from the Canary Islands, they could reach India. He pitched his theory to various monarchs and governments, looking for funding for an expedition, but was rejected. You might have been taught in school that Columbus was refused because people at the time thought that the world was flat; if Columbus sailed west, his ship would fall of the edge of the world. That is absolutely absurd. The people of Columbus' time knew that the world was round. They even knew the circumference of the earth at the equator. That had known this since the time of the Greeks, and even before. And this is why no one would finance his voyage. Columbus had calculated that the distance from the Canary Islands to Asia at around 2300 miles. Scientists working for various monarchies advised that Columbus' figures were way off. And they were; the actual distance is approximately 7800 miles. No ship at the time could travel that distance without running out of supplies. Nevertheless, Isabella and Ferdinand sponsored Columbus' voyage. He set out from the Canary Islands and five weeks later, running out of supplies, he and his men landed in what is today the Bahamas. The exact island is unknown, but Columbus named the island San Salvador. He also took the liberty of naming the natives, the Arawak tribe, indios, or Indians. On that first voyage, Columbus travelled about the Caribbean for four months, taking natives captives (most died on the trip back to Spain), gathering species of plants and animals, and making maps of where he went. Columbus returned to Spain in triumph, announcing that he had indeed found the westward route to the East. But wait. Europeans had been to both India and China/Japan. The surviving natives dragged back by Columbus looked and dressed like no one from the Orient. The animals and plants didn't seem indigenous to the East either. The maps Columbus had drawn didn't look like any place in Asia. There was a little bit of confusion and explorers set out to see what Columbus had found. Columbus himself made three more journeys to "the East". After several observational journeys starting in 1499 another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, wrote that what Columbus had found was a brand new continent, not a new world. Vespucci's theory was generally accepted and the continents (by now, enough exploration had been done to realize that there were two great land masses) were named after Amerigo's Latinized name, Americus. Spain complained, but after the famous mapmaker, Gerard Mercator, put America instead of Columbia on his 1538 world map, the name was fixed. Besides, Columbus had gained a reputation for being a tyrant, and a bit of a joke: he never accepted the fact that he discovered new continents. Columbus maintained until the day that he died (1506) that he had found the route to Asia. The Myth of Columbus and the Results of his Voyage Of course, Columbus was not the first human in the Americas. He did not discover America. There were already some 100 million people living there already when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Columbus wasn't even the first European in the Americas. We know from Medieval records that a Norwegian by the name of Leif Erikson had made the voyage to what is today Newfoundland in the 10th century, and that other Scandinavians regularly made the trip the Northeastern Canada to fish. They didn't stay however. Columbus gets the credit because he claimed the credit, even if he did fall off the merry-go-round at the end. The other reason why Columbus gained star power, even having a day named after him, is because as a new country, the United States needed heroes, and Columbus fit the bill. That is why his life and his story was sanitized and white-washed (in reality, he was all that nice a person) and why lady Columbia became a symbol for America. On the other hand, the Europeans had forgotten about the Americas, and Columbus' voyage reminded the rest of the world that the continents were here. The fact that two continents, full of people that the Europeans knew nothing about, forced the inhabitants of the "Old World" to reshape their point of view about themselves and their world. We truly were a global society now. Economically, the most important change was something called the Columbian Exchange, or the transfer of goods, animals, plants, peoples, diseases and technology between the Americas and Europe/Africa/Asia. From the "Old World" came domesticated animals, such as sheep, pigs, cows and horses. Technology included gunpowder, guns and the wheel. And of course, the Europeans brought with them diseases: smallpox, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, chicken pox, etc. In return, the Europeans got agricultural products such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, beans, pumpkins, chili peppers, tobacco, chocolate, sugar and coffee. The only disease we know for sure that travelled from the Americas back to Europe was the pox, or syphilis. We now have a global economy. The Western Passage It would be a mistake to think that European countries immediately set out to colonize this Mundus Novum "found" by Columbus. Remember the goal was to get to India and China for luxury goods. So the earliest explorers sailed up rivers to get an idea of how large these land masses were, and to see if there was a water route across them. Of course, there wasn't, and we know how large both North and South America are, except where they are connect by a thin stretch of land known as Panama. A Spanish explorer by the name of Magellan led an expedition around the tip of South American and across the Pacific Ocean, then back to Spain. Although Magellan died in what is today the Philippines, he is given the credit for being the first European to circumnavigate the globe. What his expedition discovered however, was that the Pacific Ocean is twice the size of the Atlantic, and the route around the South America was not feasible for trade. This was when the idea for colonization was born. Since English and French explorers found nothing of value, Spanish colonization had a fifty year head start on the rest of Europe. Spanish-America The first Spanish colonizers in the Americas were the conquistadores, specialized soldiers who were sent in to conquer native populations and then prepare territories for colonization. The two most famous conquistadores are probably Cortes, who subdued the Aztec empire, and Pizarro, who conquered the Inca empire. After the pacification and conquest of the natives, as much by disease as by warfare, native European populations could be imported to colonize the countryside. Out of Mesoamerica, the territory that had been occupied by the Aztecs, the Spanish created New Spain; the Inca Empire was designated Peru. The main thing to realize about SpanishAmerica was the tight control the Spanish government kept over their American colonies. Madrid literally tried to recreate Spain in the Americas. Political institutions, social customs, cultural traditions, religious systems, all based on Spanish foundations were built in America. Mission churches, presidios (military bases), urban towns, roadways (which had already been established by the Aztec and Inca) and a social hierarchy were established. A medium size town in central Mexico will still look like a medium size town in central Spain, with the plaza, the fountains, the Cathedral, the tile roofs, and the architecture. Spain exercised heavy control over its American colonies because of the tremendous wealth that those colonies generated for their mother country. The colonies, however, experienced stagnant economic growth as Spain did not encourage manufacturing or economic development in its colonies. Furthermore, Spain eventually ruined its own economy by importing so much gold and silver that it caused severe inflation, leading to its eventual loss of status as the European superpower. France The French eventually settled in Canada and the Mississippi/Ohio River Valleys. Their economy was mainly based on the fur trade. Since the bulk of their population consisted of single men, and that population was out in the wilderness for most of the year, France never felt the need to build an "empire" like the Spanish in the south. French Canada had only two major cities, Quebec and Montreal, and one in the south, New Orleans. Since the fur trappers spent nine months out of the year in the woods, there was no real need to build urban centers, or institutions like churches or universities. The trappers would winter in one of the few towns, then head back out into the forests in the spring. One result of this economy was that the French forged an excellent relationship with the Native Americans in Canada. Eventually, the French Canadians did settle down and start farming after the French government put in place a program that imported women for the Canadian men to marry. The population of French Canada was never very large however. The Dutch The Netherlands were under the rule of Spain. The seven northern province (today, the Netherlands), converted to Protestantism, while the ten southern provinces (today Belgium), remained Catholic. In 1581, the United Provinces in the north declared their independence from Spain and will war with that country until 1609. There is a 12 year truce, then war resumes until the end of the 30 Year's War when Spain recognized Dutch independence. The Dutch thrive, even during the wars of independence. They are mainly traders because they don't have sufficient agricultural land and because of their location. Dutch ships travel all over the world, practicing mercantilism. In 1609, the Dutch princes hire Henry Hudson (who is English) to explore America. Hudson sailed up the river named for him (a perk of being an explorer) and claimed that land for the Dutch. The Dutch set up a colony upriver in 1614 that they named Fort Nassau (later renamed Fort Orange, now named Albany). By 1621, the Dutch had set up trading posts in the Americas. In 1625, Peter Minuit, the Governor for New Netherlands, purchased the island of Manhattan from the Natives for $24 dollars. Manhattan, or Fort Amsterdam, would be the trading hub and capital for the Dutch colony. It grows very slowly however. Like French Canada, the main exportable from New Netherlands was furs. The second largest industry in the colony was brewing. And the colony was not all Dutch. Because of religious toleration and because the Dutch really didn't care who was killing all those small, furry animals, the colony was a mixture of Germans, Dutch, Finnish, Swedes, French, English, etc. The Dutch also established a trading/working relationship with the area natives, the Iroquois. Established in 1570, the Five Nations of the Iroquois was a ruling council designed to make treaties with the newcomers to America. Each of the five tribes sent ten representatives to a representative council, who would work with the Europeans. Why? Because the Iroquois were at war with their hereditary enemies, the Huron and the Algonquians. And the Huron had allied themselves with the French. Alliance with the Europeans was a way to get guns AND friends to make war with your enemies (never realizing of course, who the real enemy was). The British We will talk about the British in Topic Three.