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1492: Spanish Conquest of America

Spanish Conquest of America

The Spanish Conquest of America. In the 15th century Christopher Columbus began the conquest of America and was the first coming to the Americas in 1492.

In the 15th century Christopher Columbus, who was well-read in geographical and theological literature and had extensive maritime experience, believed he could steer a westward course across the Atlantic to Asia. Failing to gain support for his project in Portugal, he decided to move to Spain, where politically favourable circumstances and good fortune led the Catholic monarchs, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, to approve the venture.

Columbus set forth commanding three small ships, and after a long drawn-out journey landed on the coast of a Caribbean island. Thus commenced the Spanish conquest of America.

The widely published report of the 1492 voyage granted Christopher Columbus widespread European recognition, and secured him the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea. More importantly, it enabled him to obtain further royal patronage and thus lead three more expeditions to the Caribbean (although Columbus continued to believe that he had reached Asia).

The Azteca and the Inca empires in Mexico were conquered by Spain in the 16th century, while the terrotory that would eventually became the US was explored by Hernando de Soto and Cabeza de Vaca.

The later travelled extensively through eastern and central United States, arriving at modern day Chicago, and during three years hoped to cross the sea to China, considered to be the finest market in the world.

His journey from Florida to the Mexican Gulf is described in the logbook Naufragios, which also recounts his experience of shipwreck. He and other five men had been living as natives in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Early in 1536 they came across Spanish soldiers on a slave expedition in Northern Mexico, and by July they had arrived in Mexico City.

Mexican territory was conquered by Hernán Cortés. The Aztec people believed Cortés to be their white-skinned god Quetzalcoatlin, a belief which facilitated the Spanish conquest. The Spanish fleet had landed in Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz in February 1519, and by the month of November, commanded by Cortés, they entered Tenochtitlán and arrested the Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma. Within two years Cortés had completely overthrown the Aztec Empire, securing control of Tenochtitlán and its surrounding territories, upon the ruins of which he would build Mexico City.

In 1532 the Inca Empire was conquered by Francisco Pizarro, whose men kidnapped Emperor Atahualpa in exchange for a ransom of gold and silver; once the ransom was paid, however, Atahualpa was murdered.

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