Upon realizing that the New World was not, in fact, the Far East, the Europeans had begun their conquest of the Americas. Several Spanish and Portuguese adventurers were on a mission to conquer the native places in the Americas. Some of the conquerors involved were on a mission to introduce Christianity to the Americas, while most of the people did it for the gold. With just a few hundred men, the Spanish were able to bring down and control the mighty Aztec and Inca, powerful Empires with armies in the thousands. How were they able to do it?
The weapons and armor of the conquistadors had a lot to do with their success. Columbus and his followers came to the New World and their visit caused a lot of negative effects and even some positive effects. The arrival of Columbus in the New World brought about several introductions in the plant and animal life of the Americas. A lot of unfamiliar diseases were introduced and many natives were destroyed by it due to the fact they were accustom to their almost disease free environment. They had no form of immunity that was able to combat the new diseases.
Diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, measles, yellow fever, bubonic plaque and more were some of the new diseases and they were an equal exchange of diseases between the Native Americans and other people. The introduction of new animals were good for the New World, especially that fact that horses were introduced and this helped in future conquests as seen with Cortez as the horses helped him to be successful in his conquest. The animals also became of part of the regular diet of native people, and some animals became wild as they were in a new environment, one to which they were not accustom.
The plants also became apart of the regular diet of the native people. Miscegenation also occurred as there was an introduction of new races and a mixture of these races occurred for instance the white and the blacks mixed and produced mulatto children, the whites and the whites mixed and produced mestizo children, the blacks and the Indians mixed producing zambo children. The Conquest of Mexico: As soon as the Europeans landed, the Aztec Empire of central Mexico was seen as the strongest of the New World society, and they had a lot of soldiers as well as civilians.
Thus Cortes along with large force of conquistadors were able to defeat the empire during very impudent expeditions in history. Many Spanish conquistadores travelled to the Americas hoping to find glory and gold. Cortes, with diminishing provisions and a host of soldiers, caused his success in defeating the Aztec Empire. Later, he served as governor of New Spain and was given the title of Marquis by the King of Spain. The conquest of Peru: With the mighty Aztec Empire in ruins and the Maya decimated in Central America, the only frightening native kingdom that remained in the Americas: the gold-rich Inca, high in the frigid mountains of Peru.
Francisco Pizarro, who was referred to as an illiterate conquistador in the callous shape of Cortes sets out with a small amount of men to defeat the last great New World Empire. Francisco Pizarro could not have completed his conquest without the assistance of his brothers. Juan Pizarro, his brother, was an out of control, brutal and insatiable human being and even though he was the earliest Pizarro to have a gory death, he would not be the last. Tupac Amaru was the very last member of the royal Inca family to have dominion over his people; however Amaru was incarcerated and put to death in 1572.
The Conquest of the Maya: With the mighty Aztec Empire in ruins, conquistador Cortes propelled his crown lieutenant in person of Pedro de Alvarado, to go to the south in an effort to find additional rich empires. Alvarado finds the bits and pieces of the Maya Empire, in decline for a long period, but yet it was formidable. Remembering how Cortes had conquered the Aztecs, Alvarado used this as a method to split and defeat the small Maya city-states. In Conclusion, with Columbus’s voyage in 1492 it lead to a demographic disaster for the populations of the Americas.
The Demographic problem can be checked out in Chapter 3 of Crosby’s book. The main reason for the conquest was piracy, search for gold, hope for power etc. Plants and crops introduced open an economic door for the people of the Americas and brought new additions to their regular diet. The mixture of the natives and the other people in the Americas brought the disease that lead to a major decline of the native population hence, making it easy for Columbus and his people to take over.
Courtney from Study Moose
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