Spanish Empire’s Influence on China, the Americas: Does American History Begin With Doctrine of Discovery and Spanish Requirement of 1513?

John Green started his US History Crash Course with the Spanish colonization of the 1500s and early 1600s. Transcript.

He challenges the assumption of linear progression in history, and notes that environmental degradation has often caused the decline of civilizations. He points out that most native Americans organized as tribes, a trend I also noticed in the Middle East and discovered similarities in North American and Middle Eastern continental histories. Similarities Between Arabs and Native American Tribes

He observes that moderns tend to romanticize native Americans as “noble savages” while at the same time acknowledging that Europeans killed them off. Actually, they were killed off by diseases spread to them by Europeans. But they do, remarkably, survive. 

Identify

Juan Ponce de León

Florida in 1513

Fountain of Youth.

Spanish in the Southwest

Pueblo

The Black Legend

Green doesn’t mention that the Spanish developed a theological and, in their eyes, legal justification for dominating non-Christian peoples, called the Doctrine of Discovery and the Requirement of 1513, essentially telling indigenous peoples they would not be enslaved or raped and pillaged if they accepted Jesus Christ.

He does mention the searing criticism of the Spanish conquest by the colonizer, historian, social reformer and later Dominican friar Bartoleme des las Casas.

Taking a broader view of the Spanish Empire in Crash Course World history, Green “explores how Spain went from being a middling European power to one of the most powerful empires on Earth, thanks to their plunder of the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries. Learn how Spain managed to destroy the two biggest pre-Columbian civilizations, mine a mountain made of silver, mishandle their economy, and lose it all by the mid-1700s. Come along for the roller coaster ride with Charles I (he was also Charles V), Philip II, Atahualpa, Moctezuma, Hernán Cortés, and Francisco Pizarro as Spain rises and falls, and takes two empires and China down with them.”

He describes the Aztec and Inca Empires, and the effect of silver on China’s Ming Dynasty. Transcript.  

He doesn’t mention that the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 1500s, and remained there until the Spanish-American War in 1898, nearly 75 years after it lost its Central and South American colonies. But that’s another story. 

 

 

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