Colonization of the Spanish Empire

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The early 15th century was a very significant time in history. It was a time when Europeans started traveling outside of their nations and embarking on risky journeys to unknown lands, which later became known as the Age of Exploration. Because of the fact that the New World was unexpectedly found, many explorers grew interest in exploring it and seeing how it was like. They knew that there would be many favorable circumstances which could help develop their empire in many ways.

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This gave the explorers a chance to spread their religion, revitalize their economy, and benefit themselves in a political way.

Explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortes, and Bartolome de Las Casas played significant roles in the Spanish colonization of the New World. These individuals had motives that had many similarities as well as many differences that impacted native peoples and their lands multiple ways. Like many other explorers, Christopher Columbus believed that there were goods in the New World that no one had yet discovered. Initially, Columbus and his men started their journey from Spain, hoping to find a faster trade route to Asia.

However, they ended up unearthing a new territory which was later called ‘Hispaniola’. Columbus had several goals when he established colonies in the New World one of which was to spread religion. Columbus states, “I gave them a thousand pretty things that I had brought, in order to gain their love and incline them to become Christian” (Columbus,118). Because the inhabitants of the islands were described as amazingly timid, scarcely armed and gullible, Columbus knew that he could easily convert them to into Christianity.

Another motive that Columbus had was to attain riches. Because gold and spice were presumed to be a limited resources during the 1500’s , the amount an empire had determined their wealth. Columbus expressed “as soon as I came to the Indies, at the first island I discovered I seized some natives, intending them to inquire and inform me about things in these parts” (Columbus, 118). This quote depicts that Columbus was exploiting the natives to get what he wanted which in this case was to know where the gold and riches were located.

In 1519, the Spanish conquistador named Hernan Cortes guided an army from Cuba to the city of Tenochtitlan. As Cortes explored the city, he noticed that there were many technological advancements such as large buildings, bridges, and waterways that supplied water to the whole nation. After viewing this, he When he came across the religious temples in Tenochtitlan, Cortes noted that there were several idols and statues around, which he later found out that the inhabitants worshipped. He states, “the greatest of these idols and those in which they placed the most faith and trust, I ordered to be dragged from their places and flung down the stairs, which done I had the temples which they occupy cleansed for they were full of human blood of human victims who had been sacrificed” (Cortes, 5). Cortes discovered how unsanitary the temples were and later found out that the inhabitants would make human sacrifices to these idols, leaving spots of blood and corpses lying around. He convinced the inhabitants to convert to Christianity so this could be prevented. The inhabitants, as gullible and naive as they were, didn’t put up a fight and did as Cortés wished.

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Colonization of the Spanish Empire. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved from