Theme Three:  Conquerors and the Conquest
September 13, 15
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Above is a page from Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes's La Historia general y natural de las Indias (The Natural History of the Indies), Seville, 1535.  Oviedo, the official "naturalist" for the Spanish monarchy, struggled to describe the new and unprecedented objects and practices he observed in the New World.  Sometimes Old World terms were combined to describe something new, as in the case of the "pine [+] apple."  Other times, as in the case of the Carib- derived word "hammock," nothing in Old World imagination could compare.

 A. Iberia in the Fifteenth Century
  1. The "Reconquest:"  Military Technology and Status
  2. The Catholic Church and ReligiousWars
  3. Expansion: Portugal as Example
  4. Contacts with Africans and the Beginnings of the Slave Trade
B. 1492: Who, Why?
  1. Columbus in the Caribbean: First Contact
  2. The Beginnings of Conquest
  C .On to the Mainland
  1. Cortés and Moctezuma
   a. Military Victories as a Cause of Conquest
   b. The Clash of Worldviews as a Cause of Conquest
  2. Atahualpa and Pizzaro
   a. Military Victories as a Cause of Conquest
   b. The Clash of Worldviews as a Cause of Conquest

Key Terms:
Patronato Real 
The Catholic Kings 
700 Years' War
Vera Cruz 
La Noche Triste

Click on the Ship to Link to the Wonderful  Library of Congress Exhibit:  1492: The Ongoing Voyage

Reading Assignments:

B & J CLA pp33-40; 44-80
selections from The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493
Bartolomé de las Casas A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (Begin reading)

Optional Additional Readings:

Steve Stern, "Prologue:  Paradigms of Conquest" to Peru's Indian People and the  Challenge of Spanish Conquest,  (1982)(p.xxi-liii)

Selections from Bernal Díaz, The Conquest of New Spain: "Dona Marina's Story”
 through "The foundation of Verz Cruz" pp. 85-186; "Entrance into Mexico"
 through "Moctezuma's Captivity" 216-244; "Córtes in Difficulties" through  "Collects Fresh Strength," pp. 276-326.

Questions for Consideration:

1.  What were the primary "social markers" or differences that determined people's status, in Iberian societies of the fifteenth century?  Were they mostly economic, political, regional, cultural/religious?

2.  What, in your opinion, explains the defeat of two militarily adept imperial states to a small group of foreign interlopers?  Was it some quality that the Spanish possessed, some quality that the native imperial leadership lacked, or something else entirely?


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