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The Impact of The Spanish and Portuguese Colonization

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Spaniards great voyages of exploration led them to be the first colonizers of America. The Spaniards first settlement in Americas was at Santo Domingo in West Indies in 1496. This was after Columbus second voyage by his brother, Bartholomew. Within the next twenty years following the initial settlement, the Spaniards had conquered most of Central America, which acted as the bases for the conquest of the rest of Americas. Later on in 1518, Hernando Cortes left Cuba with 600 men, 17 horses, and 10 guns for Aztec empire in Mexico. In three years, the Aztec empire fell and led to establishment of the Spanish rule in central Mexico. In 1531, Francisco Pissarro obtained royal consent for expedition and left for Peru with180 men, 27 horses and 2 guns. By 1536, he was in control of the country. It’s in Mexico that the Spaniards explored North America, though colonization didn’t start here until 17th century. From Peru, they advanced to the Bolivian plateau and southwards towards Chile. By the end of the 16th century, the whole area from New Mexico and Florida in the North and to Chile and the Rio de la Plata in the south was under Spanish rule apart from Brazil. The first interest on Brazil by Portugal was inspired by the 1520s menace of the French encroachment. In 1530, Portugal sent Martin de Souza as a leader of colonizing expedition. Spanish conquest of the new worlds was driven by the gold, glory and gospel (the three ‘G’s).

In 1531, Portuguese made the first attempt at colonizing Brazil by sending five ships and several hundred colonists to Brazil under the command of Matin de Sousa. The colony was first planted on a little island of Sao Vicente, close to the present Santos. Here, they welcomed Ramalho and his family and subsequent colonies were established in quick succession. The main reason for Portugal interest in Brazil was sugar. Although the Portuguese law prohibited enslavement of Indians the colonists paid little heed and started the enslavement of the native as well as the importation of the Negroes from the Guinea coast. After a few years from the start of colonization, Brazil became the chief world supplier of sugar. The discovery of gold in Sao Paulo threatened to depopulate the settlements along the coast. Even Portugal sent gold seekers in large numbers.

The military incursion and takeover of the Americas was followed closely by the spiritual change. The new religion from the west in the form of saints of the old world were introduced and imposed on the new colonies. This was followed by tremendous change. Christians recorded and circulated the Holy Scripture both orally and in written texts. The fifteenth advent of the printing press enhanced the popularity and the spread of these literally genre, sacred history and didactic guide for behaviors. The relation between the Spanish and Indian cultures was described as converging. In 1549, king of Portugal sailed to his new American colonies with three hundred and twenty officials, three hundred convict colonists and six Jesuits with the instructions of building a strong city at Bahia which was to become the seat of the government.

After the establishment of their presence on the new land, the problem to effectively legislate and administer their new possessions arose. This also included the need to compile the ethnographical information of hundreds of different indigenous people. This led to chartering of “the contratacion and the sea” in 1503 by Ferdinand and Isabella. Its mandate was to manage private commerce and royal monopolies in the new world. This led to radical changes in the discipline of cosmography of addressing and adequately describing flora and fauna of the new world. This involved the exhaustive exercise of compilation and erudition which was to place the new world within the web of symbol and classical correspondence that was the Europeans understanding of the world. Also, the new cosmographers had to update the information of the new discoveries continually into the overall world picture. This led to the new routes in to Indies being officially endorsed. The new nautical chart, also known pardon real (royal ratter).With time these cosmographers could determine the longitudinal location of a given location with precision. In addition, new instruments were discovered which made the Pacific Ocean and the general navigation easier. These instruments simplified the astronomical and mathematical computations that were necessary for determining the location at high seas.

The arrival of the Spaniards and Portuguese in the new land brought with it new diseases in which the native Indians had no inbuilt immunity e.g. measles, smallpox, cholera and pneumonia. This led to massive revolution in the field of medicine. Recent literature brings to light how the new diseases introduced by the Europeans led to birth of a branch of medicine, (colonial medicine). The great limitation of receiving medicine from the west led to frequent exchanges and subsequent working together of Europeans, indigenous and African cultures.

There was a change of the native Indians culture with the entrance of the colonizers. For example, the natives were present oriented while the colonizers were future oriented. For the natives, time was relative and they used seasons to keep track of time. On the other hand, the Europeans colonizers were time conscious and specific time was set aside for specific tasks. The indigenous were more oriented on giving while the Europeans were more about saving for tomorrow. For the natives, cooperation was the order of the day, but for the colonizers competition was the most important thing in mind. The Natives were in harmony with the nature and didn’t try to change it. On the other hand, their Europeans counterparts believed on the conquest over nature and that people should modify their environment to make it more comfortable for their habitation. This great difference in their cultures had a great impact on the Native American people, some of whom changed and oriented their culture towards the European way of life while others, who wanted to preserve their culture, moved to areas unwanted by Europeans. Spaniards came with them paintings and pieces of furniture from Europe and typically tried to reproduce their fashions in their new territory.

The arrival of the Spaniards and Portuguese led to massive migration as the lands were taken over. The different tribes which previously lived peacefully were forced to compete for food and this led to subsequent wars. Many tribes gave up farming and became nomadic pastoralist following the buffalo herds as they migrated between the plains. In addition, new crops were introduced in Latin America. Both maize and potatoes were introduced during Spanish colonization. They are staple foods today in most parts of Latin America.

The Americas colonization also led to the widespread exportation of the indigenous knowledge of the Africans, Asians and Native Americans. During the Spanish rule, the Spanish dug countless sources of archives and curiosities and shipped it to Spain. The researchers claim that this was meant to deny any potential imperial rivals the much needed information about the loosely held frontiers. The Brooklyn exhibit organized by Diana Fane, Sarah Faunce and Kevin Staton, which concentrated on social implication of colonial arts-examining how both Spanish and the Indians struggled to find an identity, which honored their respective pasts and at the same time reflecting on their present, exhibited more than three hundred (300) works ranging from paintings, sculptures, textiles and religious objects. Most of these were from the Spanish viceroyalties of New Spain (1535-1821) and Peru (1542-1824), of which corresponded roughly to the geographic boundaries of the Aztec and Inca empires. It is in America that the new systems of governance were set which was in many respects the most advanced system of colonial control.

In conclusion, the entrance and colonization of the Americas by the Spaniards and Portuguese caused more harm than good as indicated in most scholarly work available. Although it improved trade between the Portuguese, Brazil and the rest of the world, it led to increased importation of Negroes as slaves. According to these sources, Portuguese government from Brazil was not less than $ 10,000.000. Also, it’s estimated that at the end of the Portuguese Brazil there was about 1,500,000 Negro slaves.

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