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Exploration To Colonization

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The costs were minimal but the risks were high. Whole continents were discovered and explored. However, despite the fact that history textbooks have, until quite recently, always glamorized this age of European exploration, there is one series fact we need to consider. That fact is this: Europeans found native populations wherever they landed and their first task was to befriend them. After this initial period came to an end, that is, after gold and silver was discovered among the natives, the age of European exploitation began. In this way, exploration turned to exploitation. One example says a lot: during the second voyage of Columbus in 1494, and while at Hispaniola, one of his captains collected 1500 Indians and held them captive. Five hundred were taken on board Spanish ships and 200 died at sea. Others were treated cruelly by the Spanish -- the first armed conflict between Indians and Europeans occurred in March 1495. So strong were the Spanish that the Indian population of Hispaniola was nearly destroyed. Of a population of 250,000 in 1492, barely 500 remained alive in 1538, just over forty years later.

Why did Europeans take to the Ocean Sea? What made the civilization of the Renaissance turn to discovery? Something drove Europeans out of their native lands in order to contact other lands. I would suggest that there are four basic motives. The first motive was perhaps the willingness or the courage to learn and understand other cultures. This idea naturally follows from what we accept as fundamental to the Renaissance in general -- a willingness to experience and observe as much as possible (see Lecture 1). In other words, man's curiosity was a prime motive to know as much about the world as possible. A second motive or explanation for this age of discovery was religious in origin. In this respect, the age is also connected to the idea of the Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries. There was evident throughout Europe a religious desire to save souls, and the myth of PRESTER JOHN was extremely persuasive. Prester John was supposedly a powerful king of a legendary Christian nation in the east. It was popularly believed that Prester John had ordered all Christians to join him in a holy war against the infidels. There was no Prester John, nor was there any Christian kingdom to the east -- it was a myth. But Europeans believed that Prester John was real, a living fact in the age of discovery. After 1415, Portuguese explorers were told to search for Christians



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