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European Motives for Journey to the New World Essay

From 1450 to 1600, the desire for conquest, resources, and spreading religion spurred European journeys of exploration and conquest to the new world.  One seemingly very appealing idea to the Europeans was to conquer new land and expand their own. Fray Bartolome de las Casas, the Bishop of Chiapas, angrily describes the invasion of Europeans into New Spain to show their inhumane nature. Fray tells how they murdered people on the pretense of settling the land; this describes their want for conquest. In document 5, the author similarly describes the horrific actions of the Spaniards but in a rather somber tone, to depict the expansion hungry side of the Europeans.

Again the Europeans are shown conquering new land. Guaman Poma de Ayala, a bilingual Quechua Indian, angrily informs King Philip the III about the overpowering Europeans who have taken control of the Indians, and are ruining the labor force and Indian nobility. As told by Guaman, the Europeans are attempting to conquer Indian land as well. Conquest and expansion proved to be one of the driving causes behind European journeys to the new world, and benefited the Europeans. One thing that was hurting them however was the expansion the Ottoman Empire and their capture of Constantinople, which cut off trade routes with Asia. So they were forced to find another method to obtain resources.

With trade routes such as the silk road blocked off, Europeans journeyed to the new world to find resources. Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, joyfully writes to Luis de Sant Angel about his findings on his journeys, which include gold, silver, spices, and cotton. These findings are the reasons for his traveling in the first place, the need to find resources. Hernan Cortes, in his letter to Carlos V, also mentions gold and silver. Again, showing the importance of resources. King Henry VII of England determinedly tells John Cabot of the need to collect money from the new world. Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and navigator describes the journey people made to China in order to facilitate commerce.

Both King Henry VII of England and Samuel de Champlain’s words reflect the decisions of the Europeans, and show that one of the reasons for their many journeys was in order to find resources. The engraving of the Potosi silver mine in 1590 shows Native Americans mining for silver. These Native Americans were workers drafted by the Spanish, so what the picture really depicts is Europeans once again obtaining resources such as silver from the new world. Such long journeys such as the one to the new world required good reason. In addition to the need for resources, the Europeans wanted to spread their religion.

The Europeans also decided to spread Christianity by travelling to the new world and sending missionaries. The Law of Burgos in 1512 prohibited the maltreatment of the indigenous peoples such as Indians, but at the same time endorsed the conversion of these peoples to Christianity. In 1533, in a letter from Hernando Pizarro to the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo, Hernando resolutely describes a personal experience, in which a man endangered their plan to spread Christianity. Hernando blatantly states that the priest was trying to convert Atahualpa (the man) to Christianity. European journeys to the new world were in part caused by the want to spread religion.

The three motives for European journeys of conquest and exploration to the new world between 1450 and 1600 were the want for conquest, resources, and spreading their religion.

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