Chapter 2 “Spain’s Empire in the Americas” Spanish Conquistadors

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Chapter 2

Spain’s Empire in the Americas”

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Spanish Conquistadors

*Early 1500s – Spain had firm foothold in Americas

*Conquistadors explored unknown area to find riches and glory for themselves and Spain
Cortes and Pizarro

*1519 – Hernando Cortes sailed from Cuba to Mexico where Native Americas he met presented him with gifts of gold

*Cortes marched into Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan accompanied by Native Americans who hated Aztec’s brutal treatment

*Aztec leader Montezuma tried to get Cortes to leave by offering him gold; Cortes took Montezuma hostage and claimed Mexico for Spain but was overthrown by Aztecs and forced to flee

*A year later, Cortes returned, recaptured Tenochtitlan, and destroyed it

*In place of Tenochtitlan, Cortes built Mexico City, capital of Spanish colony of New Spain

*1531 – Francisco Pizarro landed on coast of Peru to search for Incas who were said to have gold

*1532 – Pizarro took Inca ruler Atahualpa prisoner and executed him

*By 1533, Spanish had defeated Incas and captured capital city of Cuzco

Why the Spanish Were Victorious

1. Technology – Spanish had armor, muskets, cannons

2. Horses – Ridden by Spanish (never seen by Native Americans)

3. Native Americans were divided among themselves
Spanish Explorers in North America

*1513 – Juan Ponce de Leon sailed from Puerto Rico to Florida (first Spaniard in present-day U.S.)

*1528 – 400 Spaniards landed near present-day St. Petersburg; finding no gold, they marched into northern Florida and were attacked by Native Americans

*Alvar Nunez de Vaca led about 80 survivors to present-day Galveston Island on Texas coast

*Starvation and disease decreased number to 15 before Native Americans enslaved them; four escaped after six years of captivity

*1536 – four remaining survivors of original 400 returned to Mexico City with stories they had heard from Native Americans about seven cities of gold

*Francisco Coronado, with 1,100 Spaniards and Native Americans, tried to find golden city; he could not find city but did explore present-day New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Kansas

*At same time, Hernando de Soto was searching for riches in southeastern U.S. as far north as Carolinas and as far west as Oklahoma (also found Mississippi River)

Colonizing Spanish America

Harsh Life for Native Americans

*To start mines, ranches, and plantations, government officials granted settlers huge tracts of land

*To help Spanish colonists find needed workers, Spanish government granted encomiendas (land grants that included the right to demand labor or taxes from Native Americans)

*Priest Bartolome de Las Casas – traveled through New Spain working for reform of Native American treatment; Spain ordered reform of encomienda system in mid-1500s)

*Spanish believed they had a duty to convert Native Americans to Christianity – they set up missions
The Trade in Humans

As death toll of Native Americans continued to rise, Spanish looked to Africa for new source of laborers
Society in the Spanish Colonies

(Ranking of most-valued to least-valued)

1. Peninsulares (Spanish colonists born in Spain) were government officials

2. Creoles (born in America of two Spanish parents) were wealthiest merchants and plantation owners

3. Mestizos (mixed Spanish and Native American blood) were ranchers, farmers, or merchants

4. Mulattos (mixed Spanish and African blood)

5. Native Americans and African Americans (without Spanish blood)

*System help Spain control empire for over 300 years

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