Introduction: None of the activities of the period we are calling the Renaissance has had a more profound effect on the world during the last 500 years than the global expansion of European ideas, institutions, religions, languages, and customs than the Age of Exploration & Overseas Expansion.
This age can be called the Europeanization of the World, especially the New World.
European ideas, institutions, and techniques became the anchors of civilization.
The progressive impact and cumulative effects have continued from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, and have even made a major impact on 20th century.
Expansion of Europe caused the center of expansion to shift from the eastern Mediterranean to the Atlantic seaboard.
It sparked the transition from an almost completely agrarian economy to one of combined commercial and industrial capitalism.
It also spurred and stimulated further technological and scientific achievements.
The influx of silver from the mines of the new world sent inflation soaring to almost 300%
The Background and Motives of the Iberian Expansion:
What would cause Latin Christendom to reverse a 1000 trend and launch vigorous exploration.
Underlying motivation was an over-powering fascination for the exotic Far East.
The legend of riches, goods, and magic were inextricably interwoven.
Medieval myths about the land of the Amazons, the Fountain of Youth, the land of Ophir influenced Europeans.
There had been some trading with the Orient since Roman times over the “silk route—no one knows exactly where the route was.
Nomadic Mongol tribes subdued the Chinese under the rule of Genghis Khan who sought the “the domination of the world.” It covered the world from Korea to the Black Sea and from Siberia to Afghanistan.
The first known traders were Franciscan Giovanni Plano Carpini, William of Ruysbroeck. Later, Niccolo and Maffeo Polo, taking the 15 year old son of Niccolo—Marco.
Other traders and missionaries followed. And thus set the stage for the missions, the pueblos, and presidios to bring Christianity.
The early fifteenth century saw the travels of Prester John, which motivated the Portuguese voyages down the African coast.
Geography and Maps:
Medieval maps were mostly symbolic representations of the world.
The recovery of Ptolemy’s Geography in 1410 opened a new dimension in cartography.
Ptolemy described the world as a spherical earth onto a flat surface with the use of meridians and parallels. (see pg. 331 of Renaissance Europe.)
Of great value to Renaissance seamen were the portolan charts. They were developed in the 13th century. The Catalan Atlas was made my Abraham Cresques, a Majorcan Jew whose son became the cartographer of Prince Henry of Portugal.
European technological developments, especially in navigation, cartography, and shipbuilding made expansion possible and made possible the continuation of exploration possible.
Portuguese innovation in ship building more value and important than the last 1000 years of sea-going mariners.
European seamen learned fast from the Arabs and from one another. Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and Spaniards.
Much of the geographical knowledge of early exploration was past one to future navigators. The Regimento do astrolabio e do quadrante, was used by da Gama and all future Portuguese navigators.
The Sea Routes to India:
An almost continuous development of Portuguese expansion can be traced to 1415 to the climatic arrival of Vasco da Gama in India in 1497.
The period was dominated third son of King Joao, Prince Henry “The Navigator”
Prince Henry saw his destiny in the stars and was moved by Providence to fulfill the decree of his horoscope.
Following the victory over the Moors in North Africa, Prince Henry became the active force in Portuguese maritime activities. He attracted the best cosmographers, astronomers, and mathematicians to his school for seamen.
Henry’s data soon became part of the growing library of oceanography.
Early Portuguese achievements:
Gil Eannes, the most able of Henry’s captains rounded Cape Bojador the first obstacles to surround the Cape of Good Hope.
Several groups of islands off the African coast were discovered.
Along with the production of sugar cane, came the introduction of African slaves,
Later, came a profitable market for spices, ivory, gold, silver, and monkeys.
Prince Henry di not live to see the complete fruition of his pioneering efforts.
The climax of the African voyages came with the memorable voyages of Bartholomew Dias, who sailed from Lisbon which eventually led to Cape of good Hope. The commander of this expedition was Vasco da Gama led the expedition.
The zamorin of Calicut, a local ruler under the suzerainty of the Hindu empire welcomed da Gama with respect and ceremony.
After unsavory encounters with both Muslims and Hindus, he returned to Portugal in August of 1498.
The enterprise was a financial success, and the all water route to India was now opened.
The Portuguese Empire:
India had been reached. It was obvious that any share Portugal was to have in the trade would come at Moslem expense.
Six months after da Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral with thirteen ships and 1,200 men, in a voyage more remarkable than da Gama, Cabral was to lay claim to Brazil. Then in the end Bartholomew Diaz made it to India in six months. Cabral sojourn in India was short and violent but still successful according to Amerigo Vespucci.
Arab and Turkish traders did not take the Portuguese lightly. By 1509 the Portuguese road to India was secure
By 1513, the Portuguese had opened the trade with China and a potentially lucrative trade.
There was a less spectacular but equally successful activity with the rulers of India
For the next half century all of Portugal was teeming with interest and activity in the Eastern trade
The very vastness of the Portuguese empire contributed to the downfall of the empire.
Columbus and the Discovery of the New World:
Throughout most of the 15th Century, Portugal’s immediate neighbor to the east paid less attention to oversee discovery and exploration.
The two kingdoms of Castile and Aragon had variant objectives and had NOT yet been unified. Castile was caught in the Reconquista movement. Aragon was extensively committed to western Mediterranean
Christopher Columbus was such a key figure in the opening of the European expansion. Legends have grown out of the fragmentary evidences of the period.
Geographers, mathematicians, and philosophers for more than 15 centuries had calculated the circumference of the earth with considerable accuracy.
The unique contribution of Columbus was not the concept of a spherical earth, but the tightly argued thesis that it was not as large as people had previously thought.
Among the influences on Columbus were the Travels of Marco Polo, which Columbus read avidly.
The complete motives of the discoverer will probably never be known, but there is evidence that they were not unlike those of Henry the Navigator almost a century earlier.
His religious frame of mind saw…a providential enlargement of Christianity.
Columbus’s belief in his own destiny as an instrument of God to bring about this change in the world and to prepare for the Last Days gave him unfaltering determination to succeed.
There is a persistent legend that Columbus had some secret knowledge of the West Indies before 1492.
Columbus had a hard time selling his ideas to either his adopted countrymen or their neighbors.
Genoese by birth, Columbus spent his youth in the western Mediterranean.
For eight years, he tried to sell his small world idea and obtain backing for exploration and discovery. He went to King of Portugal first, next he went to Spain, he was thrice rejected. A lesser man might have given up but Columbus persisted until he saw Queen Isabella.
The tiny expedition of three small ships and ninety men as a joint financed enterprise paid for by Columbus, the Castilian crown, and Alonso de Quintanilla, a merchant of Seville.
At sea, Columbus proved himself to be a capable and meticulous navigator.
According to his Diario, Columbus impression was one of amazement, admiration, and condescension. He was struck by the fact that they wore no clothes—“naked as their mothers bore them.”
After exploring the coastline of Cuba and Haiti [Hispaniola] they obtained small quantities of gold and ornaments from the natives. Columbus established a colony with thirty-nine of his crew and began the tortuous journey back to Spain. The conflict between the Portuguese and Spanish, resulted in the Treaty of Tordesillas or the line of Demarcation to separate the claims. The Treaty of Tordesillas, was diplomatic victory for Portugal. However, Castile would become the possessor of empire so large, so rich, and diverse that it would take centuries to discover.
The impact of Columbus’s first voyage was immediate in Spain and raised considerable curiosity in the rest of Europe. It was one of vitality and leadership of Spain for the next century and half.
The Age of Exploration:
The Treaty of Tordesillas had not been signed when Columbus weighed anchor for his second voyage to the “Indies”. He was in the height of his glory, commanding seventeen ships and 1,500 men.
1498 he embarked on a third voyage. This time he touched the New World. Columbus was arrested by the royal commissioner sent from Spain and he was sent home in chains. He still had the ear of the Queen and was eventually freed and given authority to make a fourth voyage. This one entirely for exploration.
Columbus’s last years were unhappy partly because he failed to recognize the nature and meaning of his own accomplishment. It was historian Thomas Bailey who called him the “greatest failure who ever lived—he did not know where he was going, he did not know where he was when he got there, and he did not know where he had been when got back.”
John Cabot explored New England. Another Florentine, Amerigo Vespucci accompanied other seamen on voyages along the coast of North and South America.
It was Martin Waldseemuller in his “Introduction to Cosmography” that the New World received its name “America”. Columbus was the discoverer, but it was Vespucci who was the interpreter of the discoveries.
From 1505 until his death in 1512, Amerigo Vespucci was pilot major at Seville, where he supervised and licensed all Spanish expedition to the New World.
During the first two decades following many exploring and colonizing ventures were carried out. Among the more notable ones were: Giovanni da Verrazano, Nunez de Balboa. There were many colonizing efforts made by Spaniards.
Magellan Navigates the Globe:
Magellan a Portuguese captain, sailed under the Spanish charter for the New world. He was the one who successfully would circumnavigate the globe.
The trip began in 1515 and ended with the triumphal crossing of the Pacific Ocean which no one knew how big it was. He died before it was finished but the little Trinidad and Victoria, commanded by El Cano reached Seville in 1522 with its scurvy ridden and leaking ship.
The Spanish Conquest of America:
The creation of a Spanish empire in the New World was not only an unparalleled feat of military conquest but also a landmark in the colonization of foreign lands.
It is noteworthy that the conquistadores who, through determination, valor, cruelty, and endurance, won an empire for Castile. They were primarily from the motherland of Estremadura—the hot, hard, arid southwest corner of Spain.
These hardy frontiersmen carried with them to the New World their distinctive culture and particular dialect of the Castilian Language.
They were not likely to flinch in the face obstacles. They came with and established the three great institutions of colonization in the new world:
1) pueblo [civil] 2) presidio[military] 3) mission [religious]
The first major invasion of the American mainland was the Cortes invasion of Mexico [Tenochititclan] center of the Aztecs.
Following the conquest of Mexico, Cortes sent out other expeditions to gather information, explore, plant colonies, and subdue Indians.
The rugged and violent conquistadores did not take well to peaceful pursuits.
The Conquest of Peru and South America:
What Cortes did in Mexico, Pizzaro accomplished in South America.
The conquest of Peru was initiated by a strange partnership of an ambitious adventurer, a parish priest, and a harden soldier.
Pizzaro led a motley crew down the Andes only to meet defeat and near annihilation.
Two years later, a second assault was made on the fabled Inca Empire.
He then had to go home to Spain to see Emperor Charles V. With the help of his brothers. Finally he returned to Peru in 1533 the conquistadores were in control of the Inca Capital.
Compare with the conquest of Mexico, the victory in Peru was easy; but whereas the subsequent government and organization under Cortes and his successors was relatively smooth and moderate, the turmoil in Peru came after the conquest was over, when the Almagro and Pizzaro factions fell into dispute over the spoils and a civil war occurred with the assassination of both leaders.
Two of the richest areas of the New World, were now in the European hands. It was passed mid-century that progress was made in the Rio de la Plata and Orinoco basin. Even longer before Pedro de Valdivia could conqueror Chile.
Bur like in Mexico, it took the South American conquest to incorporate the three institutions of Spanish rule for them to be effective—the mission, the pueblo, and the presidio.
After 1503, there was established by Spain, a Board of Trade appointed to handle the new world issues.
The various religious orders, as well as clerical courts, answered directly to the Spanish King rather than the pope.
From the outset, missionary zeal was rewarding in the New World. To the Indians, their own gods had failed them.
Dominican, Franciscan, and Augustinian friars baptized hundreds of thousands during the first years of the conquest.
Parishes and dioceses were established, schools, hospitals, and monasteries were built and became the central core of the colonizing forces for Spain
Brazil would remain the stepchild of the Portuguese until late in the sixteenth century. Brazil wood was a high trading commodity for them.
It was this growing competition and threat from Spanish and especially the French traders that moved the Portuguese government to being the actual colonization of Brazil.
By mid-century, Brazil was producing a variety of agricultural forest products, including: cotton, tobacco, cacao, and wood for the Europeans. The Brazilian sugar industry was to become the founding motivation of the plantations.
Economic Motives, Religious Motives, and Empire Motives in the Age of Colonization.
It would be difficult to overemphasize the long-range effects of European overseas expansion on the cultural, social, and political development of Europe during the succeeding centuries.
In the New World, it was decisive, overthrowing ancient political, and social structures while planting new European institutions, languages, and culture in their place.
The elusive relationship between European expansion and the politico-cultural changes in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries were conscious of the causes, most of them recognized that great economic change was taking place.
The nucleus of the new commercial capitalism was the Portuguese spice trade. Into Seville, flowed new products from the New World: sugar, indigo [blue dye], cochineal [red dye], vanilla, cacao, cotton, and such new products as: potatoes, corn, coffee, and tobacco.
The greatest stimulant to transatlantic trade was the discovery and exploitation of the rich silve deposits in central Mexico and Bolovia
But the boom economy of this European frontier did not lend itself to friendship and mutual respect, either among individuals or nations. From the time of Prince Henry’s first voyage and successful African expedition, a continual rivalry existed coming from Asia and the New World Spanish.
Early in the sixteenth century, French seamen began to make serious inroads into profitable Spanish colonial system. Free lance Italian and German merchants as well as became wealthy in America or in the American trade.
The expansion of Europe was truly an economic catalyst in making the modern world.
This change was not achieved without high cost.
Most Europeans still saw both Asia and America more as oddities than meaningful entities, exotic rather than real.
Their thought and culture were not yet related to the New World, but rather to their own Christian heritage and to the civilizations of classical Greece and Rome.
Spain Under Phillip II:
Now we need to turn our attention to the World of Phillip II which is the focus of this lecture.
The “coming home” of the Spanish King in 1559 ushered in a new era of political and cultural vigor.
Phillip II, The Ruler and the Man:
The most powerful monarch of the late sixteenth century was Phillip of Spain.
He became the King in 1556, at the age of 29. R. Trevor Davie’s assessment was “Those who know him best recognized him as truthful, devout, frugal, and in his own living and generous towards others.”
There is little disagreement over Phillip’s outward characteristics and appearance. He was reserved, shy, solitary, and serious—with a tendency towards melancholy. He was slight of build, short but erect, fair-haired, blue-eyed, with a jaw that was square and thick lower lip. He had asthma most of his life.
Under the this cold, impassive, exterior lay deeper traits deeper to be understood the man and his reign.
Phillip was sensitive to the world of art and scholarship, not only as patron, but as a connoisseur. He supported the universities and patronized learning in many forms. He established the Academy of Science and Mathematics.
His influence in Spanish government was even greater. He took his kingly duties very seriouos. He declared, “Bien es mirar a todo” translation is—it is better to keep and eye on everything.
It is little wonder that the objective of Phillip’s domestic rule, as well as, foreign policy, was to preserve the status quo.
The Government of Spain meant that Phillip’s titles and honors were separately bestowed and his powers separately exercised. Phillip achieved considerable success in administering his far-flung Empire.
The system of administrative councils developed by Ferdinand and Isabella and extended by Charles V, were continued and further expanded by Phillip II.
Liaison between the councils and the king was provided by written reports, consultas!
The desires and opinions of numerous corporate groups, municipalities, and even individuals were heard through the parliamentary cortes. The cortes of Aragon was much more active and an important body than in Castile.
Spanish administrative policy in the New World was similar to that practiced in Naples, Sicily, Milan, or Aragon. Phillip was the sole ruler, spokesman, and protector, but the administration had to function through some sort of bureaucracy.
From time to time, the Council of the Indiessent [visitadores] to examine the administrations of the Viceroys. Delegated to the Viceroys was power from the king and councils.
The colonial [audiencias] were microcosms of the Council of Castile. At any rate, this was sophisticated form of “checks and balances”
Phillip II inherited a serious financial trouble when he ascended the throne.
Despite this gloomy picture of the sixteenth-century economy favorable features were apparent. The principal beneficiaries of land were the Church and the wealthy noble families.
See New World Treasure and Imports to Spain, 1556-1600 [In ducats!]
Basic to the entire life, thought, and administration of Spain, in the New World and the Old, was the Roman Catholic church. We have seen how Christianity prevailed over Islam in the reconquista and how religious reformation within Spain, in the New World as in the Old, was the Roman Catholic Church.
Phillip took immediate steps to abate any doubts concerning his religious positions and beliefs.
Phillip’s identification of the interests of Spain with those of the church does not imply that he always saw eye to eye with the pope on matters of religion and politics. (Especially when it depended on who was Pope)
The Spanish Netherlands was not only the richest of Phillip’s empire, but also during this period the most prosperous area in Europe. From the beginning these provinces was challenging. Many factors led to their estrangement, and eventual revolt, civil war, and revolution involved religious, social, and economic issues as well as personal animosities. William of Orange would become the nucleus of organized opposition.
Finally this Age of Phillip became the “Golden Century of Spanish Literature. The literary expression of the siglo de oro took many forms, but it was most creative and influential in the theater and the novel. For poetry, there was the immortal Lope de la Vega. In the novel there was the immortal Cervantes with his Don Quixote de la Mancha
Lastly, pride in Spanish greatness and in the mother church was in part responsible for the eminence, produced in the visual arts, the Spanish Golden Age was varied and divergent. It was El Greco, Morales deep mysticism, and the maintenances of Gothic style that linked the medieval church and the Spain of the Counter-Reformation
Well, there is much more to say, to read, to know, but the time has now escapade us. Thanks for inviting me to come and make the case and connection between the European Age of Discovery and the Colonization that would lead to France, England, Portugal, Holland to compete with Spain in the development of the new Western world.