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Catholic Areas of Europe before 1570 - Essay Example

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In the 16th century Spain and Portugal embarked on explorations pioneering in an era of colonization. Before this, no empire outside of Europe extended beyond the continent. Activities in the seas said to be unparalleled in history, characterised the courage, greed, cruelty and wanton destructiveness of the Spanish conquerors.1 The victories, for example, show a few Spaniards winning over great empires of the Aztecs and the Incas with their bullions of silver in an effort to Christianise these races…
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Catholic Areas of Europe before 1570
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Download file to see previous pages The process is still viewed by many European observers as favourable.4 Aside from increasing wealth through world trade and bartered products, ties between the Old World and the new world were discovered. They also believed it introduced Christianity. The conquest of the Americas and expansion to the rest of the world were said to have brought about the best as well as the worst of European civilization. Resources were greedily plundered and the natives were brutally repressed and enslaved in attempts to create news institutions and convert the natives to Christianity. In any case, the Europeans had begun to change the face of the world in an effort to export their religion, culture, and language to all corners of the earth.5 "Christianising" brought in wealth for Spain's new colonies in Latin America mainly from silver. In 1545 silver was discovered at Potos, in modern Bolivia. After delivering European goods needed in the colonies, convoys of Spanish caravels would carry back to Spain gold and silver together with a 20% share of the Spanish crown.6 But the rise of the Reformation (1517) had inflicted serious wounds on the Church, when so many priests defected.7
II. Religious allegiance
Massive campaign to Christianise. Catholic Europe had been confined to one geographical area for almost a thousand years. The Crusades which saw them beyond frontiers had largely failed.8 The religious orders early on, had obtained broad powers in the colonies so that the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Augustinians carried out a massive campaign to Christianize the natives, especially in New Spain. Lands outside Europe provided a strong attraction, and desire for wealth was the main motivation of the early explorers, though spreading Christianity was also an important factor.9
Mixed motives. All with "God, glory, and gold" as the primary motives of the voyages, several were carried out in the first two decades of the sixteenth century exploring the eastern coasts of both North and South America. Vasco Nuez de Balboa, a Spanish explorer, led an expedition across the Isthmus of Panam, reaching the Pacific Ocean in 1513, and Ferdinand Magellan in 1519 sailed through the Pacific Ocean and reached the Philippines, where he was killed by the natives.10
III. Economic Development

Beginning a new era. European adventurers like Magellan were hardly aware that they were beginning a new era, not only for Europe but for the peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. They marked the beginning of a process leading to radical changes in the political, economic and cultural life of the entire world.11
More wars. The imperial age saw that the population of the lands of the united monarchy amounted to 8,500,000 in the 1590s, a level which was not surpassed for two hundred years. Emigration to the Indies averaged to about 2,000 people a year. The European wars were fought almost entirely outside Spanish soil, and the proportion of European mercenaries in 50,000 to 70,000 troops being maintained by the crown increased steadily, especially in the closing decades of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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