HIS the Portuguese king decided to reinforce stronger

  HIS 127-07Professor PortelaMirela Lazic 1. Old World and New World             The crusading mentality that led Spanish and Portuguesepeople to reach the American continent had its origin in their history with theIberian Peninsula, a small part of a land that connected Europe and Africa. TheMoors, Muslim people from North Africa, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, invaded thepeninsula in the 700s, and had occupied almost the entire Iberia. Over thefollowing eight centuries the Iberia was the land on which the Christian andMuslim people had become culturally and economically connected but also encounteredvery often.

Many of the conflicts between Moors and Christians took place insmall regions, and were not parts of huge battles. In the mid-1200s the Portugalcompleted its reconquest, and Christian kingdoms in the next two hundred years tookthe control of the majority of Iberian Peninsula, and had spread Christianity amongJews and Moors. The reconquest was successful partially due to division amongMuslims and partially by Christians’ aggression which resulted that by the 14thcentury only a small region in the south remained controlled by the Moors.             In order to enrich their kingdoms, the Portuguese first exploitedAfrica but then decided to do overseas explorations reaching Brazil in the 1500s,while the Spanish Queens Isabel of Castile had a few years earlier approvedfunds for Christopher Columbus expedition, which had reached San Salvador inthe “New World”.

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In Brazil, Portuguese established sugar plantations, exploitedthe land of indigenous people, did a small trades with them and tried to avoidany conflicts. Still, there was an increase in rebellions of indigenous people,and in 1548 the Portuguese king decided to reinforce stronger the colonizationprocess. Enslavement accompanied by the diseases that Europeans brought to theNew World, caused that indigenous people were slowly disappearing and by1600 theywere replaced by the African slaves who were already immune to the diseases.

            The main countries that Spanish Crown exploited were Mexicoand Peru. Invaders sought fortunes, and with the help of objects, animals,military technology and weapons that indigenous Americans never saw before, theydefeated them. Once the indigenous people were conquered, the Spanishestablished a class system in the New World, where their noble class people (conquerors)were rewarded with numbers of indigenous people (“encomienda”) to serve them asslaves. They also established “encomiendas” inside the indigenous communities withtheir own nobles ruling it, called “caciques”. The conqueror had an obligationto Christianize them, which was the control system that Spaniards implementedlong ago in Iberian conquest. Missionaries from Europe were arriving to teachCatholic religion, and systematic colonization wrote the bloody history ofLatin America.3.  Hegemony crisis andIndependence             By exploiting precious metals, labor, and by applying culturaland social colonization processes, the Spaniards ruled Latin America for threecenturies.

The colonial control of Latin America was also successful because Spaniardsimplemented the form of political power based on voluntary consent, so-called hegemony. It was ideological and patriarchalinfluence which convinced the people of the lowest class to accept theirinferior position. It was the ideological in a sense that Catholic Church waspervading every aspect of daily life of colonial people, from the educationalsystem to the city and town’s name creations. In a sense of Patriarchy, thehegemony represented laws and church hierarchy governed by male- fathers.                At the end of 18th century the Spanish state faced financial problems and to avoid heavy bankruptcy, the Crown was raising taxes in Latin America, which affected poorest the most, and was selling high office positions often to the incompetent people. That has caused the discontent among the people.

The different reasons for the independence movements in most of the countries of Latin America were highly influenced by the French Revolution and Napoleonic occupation. Besides that, the creoles, so-called native-born whites who owned the land and maintained social order in the cities, wanted more and more to take political privileges from their cousins Peninsulars. The Creoles took the approach, the “nativism”, which promoted the unity of all people born in Spanish America including indigenous, children of African slaves, mixed blood children. When the Spanish king was defeated by Napoleon, the idea of Spanish-American sovereignty became reality.

All over the Latin America in the next few years the Spanish-American government Juntas were formed to protect the rights granted under Ferdinand VII and maintain independence.                Portugal had a little bit different path. By escaping from the Napoleon, the Portuguese Prince settled in Rio de Janeiro. He formed the royal court, attracted many rich Europeans to move to the city, and improved the city economy which benefited also the Brazilian elite.

During the conflicts for independence, Brazil remained peaceful. After the wars, the independence did not repress colonialism, new republics were majority patriarchal and many states in Latin America were highly impoverished.  

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