The basis for exploration to the West, starting with the Spanish, cam e after the Italians sent Marco Polo to China which in turn created the Silk Road. These other 3 international powers, the English, French, and Spanish, needed their own ways to get to the Middle East to obtain those goods. So, this want for new, valuable goods, is what the basis for the exploration was. Another main basis was the creation of new seafaring equipment. All of the three countries used these same inventions. These were the Astrolabe and Compass, along with the new ship design called the Caravel. Apart from these two bases of exploration, the countries each had their own reasons for exploring.
With colonization, each country controlled different parts of the New World, for the most part. The Spaniards conquered Central America and South-West North America, along with South America. The French colonized much of the Eastern Canada area, and down the central area of North America. The English, a bit late in the exploring of the New World, colonized obviously the 13 colonies and a bit of present-day Canada.
Spain had many reasons for exploring westward. First of all, as stated above, they had a desire for valuable, expensive goods, and wanted a more efficient way of getting those goods. Secondly, the Spanish, after finding the Americas, had a hunger for gold and riches. This is what drove them to send so many explorers to America. The reason they had so many explorers to send was because of the Law of Primogenture. This law described that the oldest son was the only son that inherited anything, so the second and third etc. sons got nothing. This drove these sons to find fortune elsewhere, so they could continue to live royally after they grew up. With these explorers came priests.
These priests came to convert the native Indians to Catholicism, to gain more and more followers around the world. With Colonization, the Spanish were more unique in their treatment of the natives. They would do anything to take over more land and to find gold, which led them to get into conflict with the Inca and Aztecs.
Another reason their treatment of the Indians was unique because of the Encomienda system, which was a system in which the Indian governments gave citizens to certain colonists as long as the colonists promised to try to Christianize them, and all in all, this was basically slavery (Kennedy, Cohen and Bailey 17). Also, the Spanish are very amazed at what they find, as proven in the excerpt from Captain Juan Jaramillo, who talks about how intriguing and different the landscape and peoples were in the province of Cibola (584). It is also important to note that Spain’s first ventures in colonizing were actually quite successful.
The French had different intentions when exploring to the west. The French came to the new world with the intent of converting people to their branch of Catholicism, they were Jesuits, and to find fortune. Their way of making a fortune was to gather and sell furs, which created a very profitable trade. They colonized more of the Northeast part of the Americas, but explored all the way to the Great Lakes and down to the Gulf of Mexico. In terms of their relations with the natives they encountered, the excerpt from “The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents” makes it seem that the French were more intrigued by the “Savages” then opposed to them.
The documents talk about the differences the Jesuits notice between themselves and the “Savages”, and that the differences were not necessarily bad (Thwaites 293). France’s first attempts at colonizing were somewhat successful, because of La Salle and Cartier who claimed much of the area near the Great Lakes. Their colonization really took off because of Samuel Champlane, who set up the town of Quebec.
The English were much different in their exploration and colonization compared to the other two countries. They were not very powerful for a lot of the 1500’s, and this made it so they could not really explore in the direction of the Americas. When Elizabeth became Queen, she energized the efforts of the English to colonize and attack the Spanish in the Americas and Atlantic (Kennedy, Cohen and Bailey 26).
Their first attempts at colonizing did not succeed at all, such as the attempt in Jamestown. In the writings of the founding of Jamestown, it shows how, by themselves, the colony was failing and many were dying. But the “Savages” brought them provisions to live (Captain John Smith). The colonization powers totally changed after 1588, which was when the English took over as the commanding naval power in the Atlantic after defeating the Spanish Armada. This led to the English being able to start colonizing more into North America.
All of this information leads to many similarities and differences between the 3 countries’ exploration and colonization. Each country started the colonizing of the New World at different times, with the Spanish being the first. But, they each started fully colonizing North America within 3 years of eachother. The treatment of the natives also differed, with the Spanish being very harsh and direct while the French were more observative. Each country had different reasons for exploring and colonizing. The English wanted to find a passage to the pacific as well as be a international power, the French wanted to convert the natives to their faith and gather furs, and the Spanish wanted to conquer land and find riches.
Another important similarity is the impact all 3 countries had on the natives. For one, they changed many of their religions, through conversion. Another way is they infected tons and tons of natives with diseases from Europe. Final differences between the English, French, and Spanish was their success during their colonizing. The Spanish gained much glory and colonized quickly, while the French and English were much slower in creating permanent settlements and meeting their goals.