Comparing The Spanish And English Exploration
The Spanish exploration of 1492-1548 and the English exploration of 1584-1648 were the most significant events in the Modern time, after which a new system of trade, economy and culture was created. The motives and reasons for exploration were different, but they were also united in common need for resources that were exhausted by wars and epidemics. It is also important to consider the main religious and cultural reasons for these explorations, including the specific reasons for individuals and institutions.
Spain and England had different motivations for their expeditions, but the discoveries of new sources and precious metals were the ultimate goal for both. One more powerful impulse for the growth of interest to distant countries was development of international trade. It was especially effective in the era of the Crusades when the European population was accustomed to the course of the Eastern fabrics, exquisite jewelry, precious stones, and aromatic spices. However, after 1453, the Turks captured Constantinople, and the road to the East via the Black Sea to Western merchants was closed. Hence, the Spanish were searching for new ways of trade to India. It was dictated to accelerate the pace of development of the European society, the growth of volumes of industry and commerce, the need to find large deposits of gold (which was later reflected in the legend of El Dorado), the demand for which was rising sharply. Furthermore, the king of Spain provided the colonists a power to cultivate the lands they had discovered, and therefore protect the Christian faith. The same reason was for England, thus, both countries provided a regime of planting the Christianity with the cruelest methods in the new modern history, recalling the Crusades.
One more important reason was the fact that Reconquista ended in Spain, and the Southern part of the country was released from the Moors. The largest expedition was in 1539-1543 by Hernando de Soto, because the aggressive attitude to Indian conquistadors led to the outflow of some tribes from the valley of the Mississippi. However, there was a big problem with maps, most of them were from ancient times, thus the exploration was a sort of blind traveling without any detailed navigation or direction. Nevertheless, then this problem was resolved, and from the 15th century, “Europeans came to know much more than they have previously known about the basic geographical configuration of the entire world”. However, the main reason of Spanish exploration was gold. Two expeditions led Spain as a main European and the most powerful nation in the 16th century. Hernando Cortés organized the first one in 1519. It was a small military company that destroyed the Aztec empire in Mexico. The second expedition was directed against the Incas in Peru. During these expeditions, the Spanish robbed so much gold that it was enough for the next companies as well.
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In contrast, the English exploration also had some special motivations. The main reason was mercantilism, because the English wanted to improve their economic system by obtaining gold and silver. Moreover, the English were motivated by the desire to colonize as much of the Americas as possible in order to improve the British Empire. In this context, Schmidt suggests that the English began to integrate the Native Americans into the social structure of their country, but this course was more disastrous, because strong traditions and rituals were not given an opportunity to adapt to the British culture.
Also the English colonization was a religious opposition to Catholic Spain. King Henry VIII wanted to break away from the Catholic Church and developed his own church. In this case, the English exploration was a form of religious domination in the New World, especially in the Northern part of America. However, Spain had limited the exploration of resources in North America, since the main focus was on Central America, where gold mostly concentrated. Nevertheless, as Paine notes, the main objective of the expeditions was the search for an oceanic Northwest Passage to the Asian trade.
The main basis of both Spanish and English actions was colonization first of the coast of South America, and then along the mainland. The colonists waged brutal policy towards the indigenous population. They enslaved and exploited the natives, barbarously destroyed towns and villages, and viciously massacred their population. In order to transform large areas, the colonizers began to import slaves from Africa. For the Europeans at that time, the slaves were the richest resource. They were transported to American colonies as cheap labor force. The passage of slaves belonged to the Middle Passage. It was exactly the slave trade, one of the most prominent and tragic episodes in the history. The duration of the trip was from one to six months, depending on the weather. Along the way, many slaves died because of terrible conditions on the ships.
Spanish and English exported the huge portions of gold and precious stones, rare woods, and minerals to Europe. It marked the beginning of the colonialists industries and agriculture, which often present the most important sector for the economy. The development of diamonds in Africa and metals in Latin America, even the cultivation of tea in Ceylon, and the cultivation of rubber trees in Malaysia would be impossible without the intervention of the Europeans. The rich lands and resources increasingly provoked Spanish and English families to move to Americas. For example, Butzer explain how quickly the British Empire increased from the period of colonization: “Fueled by the export of plantation crops and grains to eager Atlantic markers, population and economy of the seaboard grew more than three percent annum, the area of settlement by more than two percent.
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Thus, the Spanish and English explorations developed in different ways and had different motivations. The Spanish tried to open new lands exploring the area, but then began to colonize South America. The British immediately sent to conquer the land, trying to take away control from the Spanish and French. In the context of Christian missions and domestication, both countries wanted to increase their resources, and many unique nations were killed as a result. However, the Spanish and English explorations were one of the most important historical facts, as afterwards many lands were discovered and cultivated.