By the 1400s, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was one of the largest and most well-planned cities in the world. Aztec wealth had provided clean streets, beautiful gardens, and
overflowing storehouses. An Aztec poem written in the early 1 500s expressed the writer's pride in the great city:
"Proudly stands the city of Mexico—Tenochtitlan. Here no one fears to die in war.
Keep this in mind, oh princes .. .
Who could attack Tenochtitlan?
Who could shake the foundation of heaven?"
Just a few years after this poem was written, Tenochtitlan would fall to an unknown invader from far away. Listen to the Witness History audio to hear more about the end of the Aztec empire.
Contemporary Mexican artist Diego
Rivera depicts the Totonacs, Indians who were conquered by the Aztecs and later joined the Spanish.
Chapter Focus Question How did European colonization of the Americas shape global economies and societies?
:onquest in the Americas
Spanish and Portuguese Colonies n the Americas
itruggle for North America
The Atlantic Slave Trade
Effects of Global Contact
Note Taking Study Guide Online
For: Note Taking and Concept Connector worksheets Web Code: nbd-1 501
A Spanish manuscript dating from the mid-1 500s shows the Spanish arrival in Mexico (top). At bottom, Moctezuma listens to his messengers.
WITNES'' / 1I») AUDIO
Moctezuma Hears Strange News
In 1519, the Aztec ruler Moctezuma heard an astounding report from his messengers. They described unusual people who had just arrived in the region—people with white skin and yellow hair, clad completely in iron, who rode "deer" as tall as a house and had dogs with burning yellow eyes. According to a Spanish translation of native accounts, "When Moctezuma heard this, he was filled with terror. It was as if his heart grew faint, as it shrank; he was overcome by despair."
Focus Question How did a small number of Spanish conquistadors conquer huge Native American empires?
Conquest in the Americas
• Analyze the results of the first encounters between the Spanish and Native Americans.
• Explain how Cortes and Pizarro gained control of the Aztec and Incan empires.
• Understand the short-term and long-term effects
of the Spanish on the peoples of the Americas.
Terms, People, and Places
Hernan Cortes Francisco Pizarro
Tenochtitlan civil war Malinche
Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Keep track of the sequence of events that led to European empires in the Americas by completing a chart like the one below.
Spain Establishes An Empire
Columbus Cortes Pizarro
• Columbus • • arrives in the
In 1492, explorer Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean islands that are now called the West Indies. The wave of exploration he spurred in the Americas would have drastic, far-reaching consequences for the people who already lived there.
First Encounters in the Americas
Columbus's first meeting with Native Americans began a cycle of encounter, conquest, and death that would be repeated throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Meeting the Tainos When Columbus first arrived in the West Indies, he encountered the Taino (TY noh) people. The Tainos lived in villages and grew corn, yams, and cotton, which they wove into cloth. They were friendly and open toward the Spanish. Columbus noted that they were "generous with what they have, to such a degree as no one would believe but he who had seen it."
Despite the friendly reception, relations soon soured. The Tainos offended the Spanish when out of ignorance they failed to pay proper respect to Christian symbols. Columbus's actions showed that he felt himself superior to the Tainos and could therefore decide their fate. He claimed their land for Spain, and then took several Tainos as prisoners to take back to the Spanish king.
Columbus's encounter was repeated by a wave of Spanish conquistadors (kahn KEES tuh dawrz), or conquerors, who soon arrived in the Americas. They first settled on the islands of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
110 The Beginnings of Our Global Age: Europe and the Americas
Throughout the region, the conquistadors seized the Native Americans' gold ornaments and then made them pan for more gold. At the same time, the Spanish forced the Native Americans to convert to Christianity.
Guns, Horses, and Disease Although Spanish conquistadors only numbered in the hundreds as compared to millions of Native Americans, they had many advantages. Their guns and cannons were superior to the Native Americans' arrows and spears, and European metal armor provided them with better protection. They also had horses, which not only were useful in battle and in carrying supplies, but also frightened the Native Americans, who had never seen a horse.
Most importantly, an invisible invader—disease—helped the conquistadors take control of the Tainos and other Native Americans. Europeans unknowingly carried diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza to which Native Americans had no immunity, or resistance. These diseases spread rapidly and wiped out village after village. As a result, the Native American population of the Caribbean islands declined by as much as 90 percent in the 1500s. Millions of Native Americans died from disease as Europeans made their way inland.
Checkpoint How did Spanish conquistadors treat the Tainos?
Cortes Conquers Mexico
From the Caribbean, Spanish explorers probed the coasts of the Americas. They spread stories of empires rich in gold, but they also told of fierce fighting people. Attracted by the promise of riches as well as by religious zeal, a flood of adventurers soon followed.
Cortes Advances on the Aztecs Among the earliest conquistadors was Hernan Cortes. Cortes, a landowner in Cuba, heard of Spanish expeditions that had been repelled by Indians. He believed that he could succeed where none had before. In 1519, he landed on the coast of Mexico with about 600 men, 16 horses, and a few cannons. He began an inland trek toward Tenochtitlan (teh nawch tee TLAHN), the capital of the Aztec empire. A young Indian woman named Malinche (mah LEEN chay), called Doha Marina by the Spanish, served as his translator and advisor. Malinche knew both the Maya and Aztec languages, and she learned Spanish quickly.
Malinche told Cortes that the Aztecs had gained power by conquering other groups of people. The Aztecs sacrificed thousands of their captives to the Aztec gods each year. Many conquered peoples hated their Aztec overlords, so Malinche helped Cortes arrange alliances with them. They agreed to help Cortes fight the Aztecs.
Moctezuma Faces a Dilemma Meanwhile, messengers brought word about the Spanish to the Aztec emperor Moctezuma (mahk tih zoo muh). Terrified, he wondered if the leader of the pale-skinned, bearded strangers might be Quetzalcoatl (ket sahl koh AHT el), an Aztec god-king who had long ago vowed to return from the east. Because Moctezuma did not know for sure if Cortes was a god, he did not know how to respond to the news. He sent gifts of turquoise, feathers, and other goods with religious importance, but urged the strangers not to continue to Tenochtitlan.
Cortes, however, had no intention of turning back. He was not interested in the Aztec religious objects, but was extremely interested in the gold and silver ornaments that Moctezuma began sending him.
This illustration from a Maya book written in the 1500s describes life before the arrival of the Spanish. What does the writer say was the main effect of Europeans on the Maya?
Primary ce Ile AUDIO
"There was then no sickness;
They had then no aching bones; They had then no high fever;
They had then no smallpox;
They had then no burning chest... At that time the course of humanity was orderly.
The foreigners made it otherwise when they arrived here",
Malinche Shapes History
Malinche's parents sold her as a slave when she was a child, believing that she was born under an unlucky star. Despite her unfortunate beginning, she left a major mark on the history of the Americas.
Diaz Sets the Record Straight
Bernal Diaz del Castillo was a Spanish soldier who came to Cuba in 1514. In 1519, he accompanied Hernan Cortes on his conquest of the Aztecs. More than 40 years later, Diaz wrote his True History because he felt other accounts of the conquest—written by historians who had not been there—were inaccurate. He insisted that as an eyewitness of events he was a better historical source. For example, Diaz was there when Moctezuma took Cortes to the top of the great temple to look at Tenochtitlan, his magnificent capital city on the lake.
compel—(kum PEL) v. to force
Cortes became more determined than ever to reach Tenochtitlan. Fighting and negotiating by turns, Cortes led his forces inland toward the capital. At last, the Spanish arrived in Tenochtitlan, where they were dazzled by the grandeur of the city.
Tenochtitlan Falls to the Spanish Moctezuma welcomed Cortes to his capital. However, relations between the Aztecs and Spaniards soon grew strained. The Spanish scorned the Aztecs' religion and sought to convert them to Christianity. At the same time, as they remained in the city, they saw more of the Aztec treasure. They decided to imprison Moctezuma so they could gain control of the Aztecs and their riches.
Cortes compelled Moctezuma to sign over his land and treasure to the Spanish. In the meantime, a new force of Spanish conquistadors had arrived on the coast to challenge Cortes. In the confusion that followed—with various groups of Spanish, Aztecs, and Native Americans all fighting for control—the Aztecs drove the Spanish from the city. More than half of the Spanish were killed in the fighting, as was Moctezuma.
Cortes retreated to plan an assault. In 1521, in a brutal struggle, Cortes and his Indian allies captured and demolished Tenochtitlan. The Spanish later built Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. As in the Caribbean, disease had aided their cause. Smallpox had spread among the Aztecs from the 1519 encounter, decimating the population.
Checkpoint What impact did the Aztecs' religious beliefs have on Cortes's approach to Tenochtitlan?
112 The Beginnings of Our Global Age: Europe and the Americas
"When we saw so all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading toward [Tenochtitlan], we were astounded. These great towns and [pyramids] and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision... Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream.... It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before."
"We turned back to the great market and the swarm of people buying and selling. The mere murmur of their voices was loud enough to be heard more than three miles away. Some of our soldiers who had been in many parts of the world, in Constantinople, in Rome, and all over Italy, said that they had never seen a market so well laid out, so large, so orderly, and so filled with people.99
— Bernal Diaz del Castillo from The True History of the
Conquest of New SpainA, °w
1. Draw Inferences Why do you think Diaz included the opinions of "some of our soldiers"?
2. Make a Reasoned Judgment Do you agree with Diaz that the best historical accounts are written by people who participated in or witnessed the events? Explain your answer.
Cortes's success inspired other adventurers, among them Spaniard Francisco Pizarro (pee SAHR oh). Pizarro was interested in Peru's Inca empire, which was reputed to have even more riches than the Aztecs. Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532, just after the Incan ruler Atahualpa (ah tah WAHL puh) had won the throne from his brother in a bloody civil war. A civil war is fought between groups of people in the same nation.
Pizarro's secretary described Atahualpa as
«a man of thirty years, good-looking and poised, somewhat stout, with a wide, handsome, and ferocious face, and the eyes flaming with blood. —Francisco de Xerez
Atahualpa refused to become a Spanish vassal or convert to Christianity. In response, Pizarro, aided by Indian allies, captured him and slaughtered thousands of Inca. The Spanish demanded a huge ransom for the ruler. The Inca paid it, but the Spanish killed Atahualpa anyway.
Despite continuing resistance, Pizarro and his followers overran the Incan heartland. He had superior weapons, and the Inca were weakened by European diseases. From Peru, Spanish forces surged across Ecuador and Chile. Before long, Spain had added much of South America to its growing empire. Pizarro himself was killed by a rival Spanish faction a few years after he established the city of Lima.
Checkpoint What factors encouraged Spanish success in Peru?
Chapter 3 Section 1 113
Spanish ships sunk in the waters
off Cuba's coast hundreds of years ago still yield gold and silver treasure to divers today. A craftsman of mixed Spanish and Native American ancestry made these ceremonial weapons in 1631.
Effects of the Spanish Conquistadors
The Spanish conquistadors accomplished a major victory in the Americas. Within a few decades, a few hundred European soldiers—helped by superior weapons, horses, and especially disease—had conquered millions of Native Americans. The Spanish had seized huge quantities of valuable goods. And they had used Native American labor to establish silver mines in Peru and Mexico to finance their new empire. In the 1500s and early 1600s, treasure fleets sailed each year to Spain or the Spanish Philippines loaded with gold and silver. With this wealth, Spain became Europe's greatest power.
The effect on Native Americans, however, was quite different. Some Native Americans believed that the disasters they suffered marked the world's end. As tens of thousands of Indians died, some of the bewildered and demoralized survivors felt that their gods were less powerful than the god of their conquerors. They therefore stopped resisting. Many Native Americans converted to Christianity in the hopes that their suffering would end.
Yet many Indians continued to resist the Spanish in any way they could. For centuries, the Maya fought Spanish rule in Mexico and Central America. Long after the death of Atahualpa, revolts erupted among the Inca. And throughout the Americas, Indians resisted European influences by preserving aspects of their own culture, including language, religious traditions, and clothing. In time, Native American culture came to influence the culture of Latin America.
The early encounters between the Spanish conquistadors and Native Americans had long-lasting impacts that reached far beyond these two groups. By establishing an empire in the Americas, Spain dramatically changed the pattern of global encounter set in motion with the first European exploration of Africa. For the first time, much of the world was now connected by sea routes, on which traveled ships carrying goods, people, and ideas.
Checkpoint In what ways did Native Americans resist Europeans?
Progress Monitoring Online For: Self-quiz with vocabulary practice
Web Code: nba-1511
Terms, People, and Places
1. What do each of the key terms listed at the beginning of the section have in common? Explain.
2. Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Use your completed chart to answer the Focus Question: How did a small number of Spanish conquistadors conquer huge Native American empires?
Comprehension and Critical Thinking
3. Determine Relevance Which factor was the most important in aiding Spanish success in the Americas?
4. Summarize Information How did Cortes gain control of Tenochtitlan?
5. Recognize Cause and Effect How did the Incan civil war affect the Spanish outcome in Peru?
6. Identify Alternatives How might the history of Europeans in the Americas have been different if the Indians had not been killed by European diseases?
Writing About History
Quick Write: List Things to Compare When you write an expository essay comparing and contrasting two things, you first need to decide which things are useful to compare. List several people, places, or activities from this section to compare. The things you choose should be appropriate for comparison. For example, comparing Malinche and Columbus would not make sense because their roles and purposes were so different from one another.
114 The Beginnings of Our Global Age: Europe and the Americas
44 Everything that has happened since the marvellous discovery of the Americas ... seems to overshadow all the deeds of famous men past, no matter how heroic, and to silence all talk of other wonders of the world. Prominent amid the aspects of this story which have caught the imagination are the massacres of innocent
—Friar Bartolome de Las Casas, 1542
Focus Question How did Spain and Portugal build colonies in the Americas?
A 1584 drawing of slaves laboring at the Potosi silver mine, Bolivia
Spanish and Portuguese
Colonies in the Americas
• Explain how Spain ruled its empire in the Americas.
• Analyze the major features of Spanish colonial society and culture.
• Describe how Portugal and other European nations challenged Spanish power.
Terms, People, and Places
encomienda mestizo Bartolomê de Las Casas mulatto
peon privateer peninsulare
Reading Skill: Recognize Sequence Use a flowchart like this one to keep track of the steps the Spanish took to establish an overseas empire. Add boxes as necessary.
A flood of Spanish settlers and missionaries followed the conquistadors to Spain's new empire. Wherever they went they established colonies, claiming the land and its people for their king and Church. When there was resistance, the newcomers imposed their will by force. Over time, however, a new culture emerged that reflected European, Native American, and African traditions.
Ruling the Spanish Empire
By the mid-1500s, Spain claimed a vast empire stretching from California to South America. In time, it divided these lands into four provinces, including New Spain (Mexico) and Peru.
Governing the Provinces Spain was determined to maintain strict control over its empire. To achieve this goal, the king set up the Council of the Indies to pass laws for the colonies. He also appointed viceroys, or representatives who ruled in his name, in each province. Lesser officials and audiencias (ow dee EN see ahs), or advisory councils of Spanish settlers, helped the viceroy rule. The Council of the Indies in Spain closely monitored these colonial officials to make sure they did not assume too much authority.
Spreading Christianity To Spain, winning souls for Christianity was as important as gaining land. The Catholic Church worked with the government to convert Native Americans to Christianity.
Governing the empire
Catholic Church •
Chapter 3 Section 2 115
Encounters with Native Americans, or stories about such encounters, influenced Spanish and Portuguese artists. This painting dating from the early 1500s places a Biblical story—the adoration of the Magi—in the Americas, with Native American figures.
drastic—(DRAS tik) adj. severe; having a strong effect
Church leaders often served as royal officials and helped to regulate the activities of Spanish settlers. As Spain's American empire expanded, Church authority expanded along with it.
Franciscans, Jesuits, and other missionaries baptized thousands of Native Americans. They built mission churches and worked to turn new converts into loyal subjects of the Catholic king of Spain. They also introduced European clothing, the Spanish language, and new crafts such as carpentry and locksmithing. Where they could, the Spanish missionaries forcibly imposed European culture over Native American culture.
Controlling Trade To make the empire profitable, Spain closely controlled its economic activities, especially trade. The most valuable resources shipped from Spanish America to Spain were silver and gold. Colonists could export raw materials only to Spain and could buy only Spanish manufactured goods. Laws forbade colonists from trading with other European nations or even with other Spanish colonies.
When sugar cane was introduced into the West Indies and elsewhere, it quickly became a profitable resource. The cane was refined into sugar, molasses, and rum. Sugar cane, however, had to be grown on plantations, large estates run by an owner or the owner's overseer. And plantations needed large numbers of workers to be profitable.
Encomienda—A System of Forced Labor At first, Spanish monarchs granted the conquistadors encomiendas (en koh mee EN dahs), the right to demand labor or tribute from Native Americans in a particular area. The conquistadors used this system to force Native Americans to work under the most brutal conditions. Those who resisted were hunted down and killed. Disease, starvation, and cruel treatment caused drastic declines in the Native American population.
The encomienda system was used in the mines as well as on plantations. By the 1540s, tons of silver from the Potosi region of Peru and Bolivia filled Spanish treasure ships. Year after year, thousands of Native Americans were forced to extract the rich ore from dangerous shafts deep inside the Andes Mountains. As thousands of Indians died from the terrible conditions, they were replaced by thousands more.
A Spanish Priest Speaks Out A few bold priests, like Bartolome de Las Casas (bahr toh loh MAY deh lahs KAHS ahs), condemned the evils of the encomienda system. In vivid reports to Spain, Las Casas detailed the horrors that Spanish rule had brought to Native Americans and pleaded with the king to end the abuse.
Prodded by Las Casas, Spain passed the New Laws of the Indies in 1542. The laws forbade enslavement and abuse of Native Americans, but Spain was too far away to enforce them. Many Native Americans were forced to become peons, workers forced to labor for a landlord in order to pay off a debt. Landlords advanced them food, tools, or seeds, creating debts that workers could never pay off in their lifetime.
Bringing Workers From Africa To fill the labor shortage, Las Casas urged colonists to import workers from Africa. He believed that Africans were immune to tropical diseases and had skills in farming, mining, and metalworking. Las Casas later regretted that advice because it furthered the brutal African slave trade.
The Spanish began bringing Africans to the Americas as slave laborers by the 1530s. As demand for sugar products skyrocketed, the settlers
imported millions of Africans as slaves. They were forced to work as field hands, miners, or servants in the houses of wealthy landowners. Others became skilled artists and artisans. Within a few generations, Africans and their American-born descendants greatly outnumbered European settlers throughout the Americas. In the cities, some enslaved Africans earned enough money to buy their freedom. Others resisted slavery by rebelling or running away.