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European History


The Age of Exploration

Spanish and Portuguese explore coast of Africa and the Atlantic in the late 1400s and 1500s

1492: Spanish monarchs fund Christopher Columbus’s voyage; aims to find spices and gold in Asia, but actually lands in Caribbean

1498: Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama reaches India by going around Africa; spice trade to the East by sea begins

Spain claims most of Central, South America; Portugal claims Brazil, African coast; conquer via small armies, advanced weapons

  • 1493: Pope divides New World between Spain, Portugal

  • 1521:Hernán Cortés (Spain) conquers Aztec in Mexico

  • 1531–1534:Francisco Pizarro (Spain) conquers Inca in Peru

1519–1522:Ferdinand Magellan (Portugal) circumnavigates world

Indigenous people face disease, enslavement; loss of land, culture

Africans sent to New World as slaves in mines, on plantations

Catholic priests, notably Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474–1566), protest against Spanish treatment of Native Americans