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Influence the Age of Exploration Had on the New World and Africa Essay

The Europeans, during the Age of Exploration, had an influence on both the New World across the Atlantic Ocean, and the much closer continent of Africa. In both Africa and the New World, Europeans had similar influences in that they negatively affected the natives in their search for riches such as spices and precious metals, and wherever they traveled they would spread Christianity to the natives. One example of this is when Cortes arrived in the Aztec empire he demanded they convert to Christianity, and when the Portuguese began colonizing east Africa it didn’t take long for the Jesuits to come. However the spread of diseases, the slave trade, and the economic takeover of natural goods differed in the New World and Africa. Africans were accustomed to the diseases of Europe, the natives of the Americas were not enslaved as the Africans were, and the Europeans were unable to take over the natural resources of the Africans because of their stronger government structure.

In both the New World and Africa the Europeans were constantly in search of riches and devoted to the spread of the Christian faith. Christopher Columbus’s first expedition across the Atlantic was in search for spices. In Africa, they wanted precious metals such as gold. In the New World and Africa the native people had their land taken from them by the Europeans so that they could search for these valuable things. When the Portuguese were settling the east African coast they forced the leader of the Mwene Mutapa to grant large sections of land to their officials. In the New World the natives also lost land but the Europeans were much more forceful. When Cortes came to the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan a battle broke out that killed the majority of the local population. This negatively influenced both the two worlds. Another influence on the native population was the spread of Christianity.

The Spanish had forced the Aztecs to convert to Christianity but when they refused, a battle broke out. In Africa Jesuits had started to come to the Portuguese settlements in hopes to convert natives. Although the Portuguese Jesuits were less violent than the conquistadors, both Africa and the New World were influenced by the spread of Christianity European exploration and colonization had different effects on the New World in contrast with Africa in regards to disease effecting society, the effect politics had on slave trade, as well as the economic takeover of natural goods in the New World. European diseases alone wiped out at least half the population of the Americas. When Columbus arrived to Hispaniola the population was 100,000 but just 77 years later and it had dwindled to 300. Diseases had a massive impact on the New World whereas it had little to no effect on Africa. Due to the fact that Africa is so much nearer to Europe, they had more exposure to these diseases, specifically Malaria. African ancestors were able to build up a stronger immunity to the diseases carried be European therefore it had contact with Europe via the Trans Saharan Trade Route, it is believed that African ancestor’ exposure to many diseases created resistance in further African generations.

Therefore, the African population was much less effected by diseases carried by Europeans explorers than the Native Americans. When the Europeans arrived to the Americas they were able to take the population by storm. The Native Americans were weak and defenseless compared to the Spanish, who had horses and modern weapons. Columbus himself called these people “naïve innocents.” Due to their innocence it was easy for the Spanish to capture them and put them to work in sugar cane fields. This was quite the opposite however of the slaves captured from Africa. These slaves were actually negotiated between African slave traders and the Europeans. Slave merchants were paid with East Asian textiles, furniture, and spices. This differentiates from the completely forced capture of the slaves in the Americas because Africa was already well established.

The indigenous people had a strong form of government and trade was strong along the Trans Saharan Caravan Trade Route. The Native Americans on the other hand did not have a stable enough government to withstand the Europeans. Looking at this form and economical stand point, natural resources were taken over in the Americas by the explorers. They harvested all the sugar cane, gold, and silver for their own trade purposes. The Indians were forced to work the fields, not own them like before. In Africa though, due to its strong establishment, Europeans could not forcibly take resources.

Instead they negotiated and traded with slaver merchants to get what they wanted: slaves who would be forced to go the Americas to be the labor force for harvesting the natural resources there. The New World and Africa were affected by the Europeans during the Age of Exploration in similar and opposite ways. Both were negatively affected in the European’s search for riches and spices. They were also influenced by the spread of Christianity by the Portuguese Jesuits and Spanish conquistadors. There were differences however in the way European diseases effected the foreign populations, how slavery in Africa was handled compared to the New World, and the economic takeover of natural goods in the societies.


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