Chapter 2
When Worlds Collide
1492 - 1590
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Part One
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Chapter Focus Questions
What was the European background to the colonization of
North America?
What kind of an empire did the Spanish create in the New
World, and why did it extend into North America?
In what ways did the exchange of peoples, crops, animals,
and diseases shape the experience of European colonists and
American natives?
What was the French role in the beginnings of the North
American fur trade?
Why did England enter the race for the colonies?
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Part Two
American Communities:
The English and
Algonquians at Roanoke
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American Communities: The
English and Algonquians at Roanoke
How did European imperialist goals create
conflicts with Indians?
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American Communities: The
English and Algonquians at Roanoke
Colony off the North Carolina coast
founded by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1585
Goal was to find wealth: furs, gold or silver,
and plantation agriculture
Indians seen as laborers
Conflict with Algonquians led to
abandonment of colony by English
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Seeing History A Watercolor from the
First Alonquian-English Encounter.
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American Communities: The
English and Algonquians at Roanoke
New colony set up in 1585 aiming for better
relations with Algonquians.
Conflicts occurred, leading to John White’s return
to England for support.
Three years later, White returned to Roanoke.
Found colony destroyed and no trace of colonists.
Colonists may have created the first mixed
community of English and Indians in North
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A French peasant labors in the field
before a spectacular castle in a
page taken from the illuminated
manuscript Tres Riches Heures,
made in the fifteenth century for the
duc de Berry. In 1580 the essayist
Montaigne talked with several
American Indians at the French
court who “noticed among us some
men gorged to the full with things of
every sort while their other halves
were beggars at their doors,
emaciated with hunger and poverty”
and “found it strange that these
poverty-stricken halves should
suffer such injustice, and that they
did not take the others by the throat
or set fire to their houses.”
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Part Three
The Expansion of Europe
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The Expansion of Europe
Agricultural society with many new advances in
farming technology
Feudal system divided land into small areas owned
by landlords.
Peasants paid tribute and performed labor.
Majority of population Christian
Harsh living conditions: famine prevalent
Plague wiped out one-third of Europe’s
population, 1347–1353.
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The Merchant Class and the
Map: Western Europe in the Fifteenth Century
European expansion fueled by population increase
and commercial growth.
The Renaissance flowered between the fourteenth
and sixteenth centuries.
Asian civilizations supplied technological
innovations which fueled European growth.
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MAP 2.1 Western Europe in the Fifteenth Century By the middle of the century, the
monarchs of western Europe had unified their realms and begun to build royal
bureaucracies and standing armies and navies. These states, all with extensive Atlantic
coastlines, sponsored the voyages that inaugurated the era of European colonization.
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The New Monarchies
The Renaissance ended with the
introduction of the plague.
Peasants rose up in rebellion
Western European states emerged with
monarchs as centers of power
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Portuguese Explorations
Prince Henry the Navigator established academy to
train seafarers.
By the mid-fifteenth century most Europeans knew that
the Earth was a spherical globe.
Portuguese trading voyages tried to reach Indies by
sailing around Africa.
1488: established several colonies and reached
southern tip of Africa.
Established Atlantic slave trade
1498: Vasco Da Gama sails around Africa to Indies.
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The astrolabe, an instrument used
for determining the precise position
of heavenly bodies, was introduced
into early modern Europe by the
Arabs. This is one of the earliest
examples, an intricately engraved
brass astrolabe produced by a
master craftsman in Syria in the
thirteenth century.
SOURCE: © National Maritime Museum Picture Library,
London, England. Neg. #E5555-3.
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Columbus bids farewell to the monarchs Isabel and Ferdinand at the port of
Palos in August 1492, illustrated in a copperplate engraving published in 1594
by Theodore de Bry of Frankfort. While armed men are ferried out to the vessels,
three accountants in a room directly above the monarchs count out the gold to
fund the journey.
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Columbus Reaches the Americas
Columbus planned to travel to the Indies by sailing
west across the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1492, Spain agreed to finance Columbus.
They were in need of new lands to conquer and plunder.
In October 1492, Columbus arrived at Caribbean
Columbus returned to Spain with talk of wealth and
proposed inhabitants be enslaved.
“many spices and great mines of gold”
Discovered clockwise circulation of Atlantic winds and
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This image
Columbus’s account of
his voyage, which was
published in Latin and
reissued in many other
languages and editions
that circulated
throughout Europe
before 1500. The
Spanish King Ferdinand
is shown directing the
voyage to a tropical
island, where the
natives flee in terror.
Columbus’s impression
of Native Americans as
a people vulnerable to
conquest shows clearly
in this image.
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Columbus Reaches the Americas
Later Columbus voyages marked by violent slave
raiding and obsession with gold
Native populations were decimated and virtually
eliminated by the 1520s.
Without slave population, colonies entered depression.
Spanish were dissatisfied and ordered arrest of Columbus.
Columbus died in 1506 still thinking that he had
opened the new way to the Indies.
After sailing to the Caribbean in 1499, Amerigo
Vespucci described lands as a New World.
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Part Four
The Spanish in the
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The Invasion of America
Map: The Invasion of America
Who participated in the invasion of
Where did they go?
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MAP 2.2 The Invasion of America In the sixteenth century, the Spanish first invaded the
Caribbean and used it to stage their successive wars of conquest in North and South
America. In the seventeenth century, the French, English, and Dutch invaded the Atlantic
coast. The Russians, sailing across the northern Pacific, mounted the last of the colonial
invasions in the eighteenth century.
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The Invasion of America
Spanish armies marched across Caribbean islands,
slaughtering inhabitants.
Encomienda system established
• Indians labor and Spanish lords protect Indians
• Turned into slave system
In 1517, Spanish under Hernan Cortes reached
Mexico, home of Aztec empire.
Aztecs dominated Central Mexico, extracting tribute and
sacrificing human captives.
Cortes allied with subject peoples and conquered Aztec
empire, aided by disease.
Wealth was the driving force behind conquest.
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This map of Tenochititlán, published in 1524 and attributed to the celebrated engraver
Albrecht Dürer, shows the city before its destruction, with the principal Aztec temples in
the main square, causeways connecting the city to the mainland, and an acqueduct
supplying fresh water. The information on this map must have come from Aztec sources,
as did much of the intelligence Cortés relied on for the Spanish conquest.
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The Destruction of the Indies
Spanish horses, guns, and steel overcame Indian
Las Casas blamed Spanish for cruelty and deaths
of millions of Indians.
The “Black Legend”
Only a small portion of the deaths can be
attributed to warfare.
Famine, lower birth rates, and epidemic diseases
were largely responsible for the radical reduction
in native populations.
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Spanish adventurers attack a native village on the Columbian coast of the
Caribbean in search of the gold said to be stored there, an engraving published in
1594 by Theodore de Bry. This attack of 1509 began at dawn, when the residents
awoke to find their houses on fire. They attempted to flee, but were cut down by
swords as they ran from their homes. Several hundred died, with few survivors.
When the ashes had cooled the Spanish looked for gold, but found little. Images
like this, widely circulated in Europe and England, helped create the “Black
Legend” of the Spanish conquest.
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The Destruction of the Indies
Chart: North America’s Indian and Colonial
Populations in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth
The population of Mexico fell from 25 million in
1519 to one million a century later.
By the twentieth century, native population had
fallen by 90 percent.
“Virgin Soil Epidemics”
Diseases were the greatest killer of Indians.
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FIGURE 2.1 North America’s Indian and Colonial Populations in the Seventeenth
and Eighteenth Centuries The primary factor in the decimation of native peoples was
epidemic disease, brought to the New World from the Old. In the eighteenth century, the
colonial population overtook North America’s Indian populations.
SOURCE: Historical Statistics of the United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office,1976),8,1168;Russell Thornton, American
Indian Holocaust and Survival (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press,1987),32.
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This drawing of victims of the smallpox epidemic that struck the Aztec capital of
Tenochtitlán in 1520 is taken from the Florentine Codex, a post conquest history written
and illustrated by Aztec scribes. “There came amongst us a great sickness, a general
plague,” reads the account, “killing vast numbers of people. It covered many all over with
sores: on the face, on the head, on the chest, everywhere. . . . The sores were so
terrible that the victims could not lie face down, nor on their backs, nor move from one
side to the other. And when they tried to move even a little, they cried out in agony.”
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The Columbian Exchange
Map: The Columbian Exchange
Exchanges between Old and New Worlds occurred.
European diseases decimated Indian populations.
American precious metals
• Runaway inflation
• Stimulated commerce
• Lowered standard of living for most Europeans
American crops to Europe– corn, potatoes, cotton,
chocolate, tobacco
European crops to America—wheat, sugar, rice, horses,
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MAP 2.3 The Columbian Exchange Europeans voyaging between Europe, Africa,
Asia, and the Americas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries began a vast
intercontinental movement of plants, animals, and diseases that shaped the course of
modern history. New World corn and potatoes became staple foods in Africa and
Europe, while Eurasian and African diseases such as smallpox, malaria, and yellow
fever devastated native communities in the Western Hemisphere.
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The First Europeans in
North America
In 1519, first of several unsuccessful colonization
attempts failed in Florida.
Europeans were searching for slaves and the rumored
cities of wealth.
In 1539, Hernan DeSoto traveled throughout South,
spreading disease that depopulated and weakened
Indian societies.
In 1539, Francisco de Coronado searched for lost
cities of gold in Southwest.
Explorers failed to find great cities and turned back.
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The Spanish New World Empire
By late sixteenth century, the Spanish had a
powerful American empire.
250,000 Europeans and 125,000 Africans
lived in Spanish colonies.
Population was racially mixed.
Council of the Indies governed empire but
local autonomy prevailed.
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Part Five
Northern Explorations
and Encounters
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Fish and Furs
Abundant fish in Grand Banks of North Atlantic led
Europeans to explore North American coastal waters.
French were first to explore eastern North American
and established claims to lands of Canada.
European-Indian relations based on trade, especially
Disease and wars over hunting grounds reduced
Indian populations.
Indians became dependent on European manufactured
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A Mikmaq Indian petroglyph or rock carving depicting a European vessel and crew,
photographed in 1946 at Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia, by Arthur and Olive
Kelsall, who traced the lines of the image with white ink to enhance the contrast. The
vessel appears to be a small pinnace with lanteen sails, similar to those used by French
merchants and explorers in the early seventeenth century. Living along the southern
shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on the Acadian peninsula, the Mikmaqs were
among the first natives in North America to establish contact with European traders,
and understanding immediately the value of iron and textiles, they soon developed a
system of coastal barter.
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The Protestant Reformation and
the First French Colonies
German priest Martin Luther began the Protestant
Reformation in 1517.
Protestant John Calvin followers in France were called
Huguenots were largely merchants and members of the
middle class.
Huguenots planted first French colonies in South
Carolina and Florida in an effort to find religious
French enjoyed good relations with Indians.
Spanish destroyed French colony in Florida.
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This watercolor of Jacques le Moyne, painted in 1564, depicts the friendly relations
between the Timucuas of coastal Florida and the colonists of the short-lived French
colony of Fort Caroline. The Timucuas hoped that the French would help defend
them against the Spanish, who plundered the coast in pursuit of Indian slaves.
SOURCE: Jacques Le Moyne, “Rene de Loudonniere and Chief Athore,” 1564. Gouache and metallic pigments on vellum. Print Collection,
The New York Public Library, New York. The New York Public Library/Art Resource, NY.
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Sixteenth-Century England
Enclosure movement stimulated English colonization.
Expanded woolen trade dislocated farmers, creating a large
unemployed population.
King Henry VIII established the Protestant Church of
“Bloody Mary” murdered hundreds of Protestants.
Queen Elizabeth I encouraged supporters to subdue Irish
Catholics to prevent any invasion efforts by Spain.
Brutal, vicious invasion led to conquest of Ireland, setting English
pattern of colonization.
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The Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, painted by an unknown artist in 1648. The queen
places her hand on the globe, symbolizing the rising sea power of England. Through the
open windows, we see the battle against the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the destruction
of the Spanish ships in a providential storm, interpreted by the queen as an act of divine
SOURCE: “Elizabeth I” ,Armada portrait, c. 1588 (oil on panel), by English School (C 16th) Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library,
London/New York.
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Early English Efforts
in the Americas
English “Sea Dogs” raided Spanish New World fleets.
Rivalry with Spain led Queen Elizabeth I to found
Colonies could provide bases to raid the Spanish, free England
from reliance on trade with Asia, and provide a home for the
Some colonization efforts failed including expeditions to
Newfoundland and Roanoke.
Spain became angry that the English were taking territory
that had been set aside by the pope for Catholics.
Spanish Armada defeated by English fleet in 1588, halting
Spanish monopoly on Americas.
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Part Six
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European Exploration of the Americas
Map: European Exploration, 1492–1591
In the century after Columbus came to the
Americas, Europeans had explored:
most of the Atlantic coast of North America;
much of the Pacific coast of North America; and
the interior of southeastern and southwestern North
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Map 2.4 European
Exploration, 14921591 By the midsixteenth century,
Europeans had
explored most of the
Atlantic coast of North
America and
penetrated into the
interior in the
disastrous expeditions
of de Soto and
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Cortes & Montezuma, 1519