ASU Discovery of the New World and the Columbian Exchange Questions


Question Description

First take al look at the attached files and answer the questions in the word file

Question #1 : 250 word (1 page)

Question #2 : no required word number ( I assumed it to be 3 pages)

for question # 2, all requirements are mentioned in the word file under question #2

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Introduction: Discovery of the New World and the Columbian Exchange What is problematic with the assumption that "Columbus discovered America in 1492?" To begin, the assertion is Ethnocentric in that it totally disregards the existence of the millions of people (50 million or more) living in America for thousands of years prior to 1492. Another flaw in this assertion is that Columbus was not the first European to reach the shores of America. Around 1000 AD, Norsemen (Vikings) under Leif Ericsson established settlements in what is now eastern Canada in pursuit of the greater Viking trading empire. In any case, however, Columbus plays a prominent role in the story of the establishment of America. Every school-age child can recite the old lines that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue etc. Yet, Columbus himself never knew that he had discovered a new continent. He believed until his death that he had landed in the Indies (Far East) and even went so far as to make people swear that the new lands were part of the Indies when he was governor of Hispaniola. This led to the erroneous term "Indians" for the native peoples. While no one referred to the new lands as America in Columbus' time, it was not long after the discovery that many realized that the lands were not part of the Indies. In 1507 a German map maker labeled the lands America as a result of the writings of Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci voyaged to the land after Columbus, and recognized that America was not part of the Indies, and he wrote extensively describing the new world. Indian Peoples: The native Americans, as noted previously, were called Indians. These people appear to have migrated to the New World during the great Ice Age (38,000-10,000 years ago). They belonged to the same human stock as the modern Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. As hunters and gatherers, they depended on roots, berries, fish, and game for survival, and it is believed that decreasing rainfall in their homeland prompted them to migrate eastward to stay alive. They traveled across the region known as Bering Strait, a land bridge (that no longer exists) that linked Asia and Alaska. Once in North America, these migrants gradually moved southward, and within a thousand years had spread from just below the Arctic Ocean to the stormy southern tip of South America. They also increased enormously in numbers. From perhaps a few hundred or a few thousand original immigrants, by 1492 the Indian population of the Americas had swelled to over 50 million, a figure about equal to that of contemporary Europe. As these groups dispersed throughout the North and South American, they began to settle into distinct cultural areas, abandoning some of the hunter characteristics for agriculture. The chief Indian societies to emerge were the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas of South America and the developed society of the Iroquois in North America. The Mayas built great ceremonial and administrative cities in the dense rainforests of the Yucatan Peninsula and Central America. Mayan society was composed of many separate urban centers, each independent and governed by a group of priests. The Mayans also had a highly sophisticated society, for they, alone among the American Indians had a written language and books, and their mathematicians developed the idea of zero as a number long before the Europeans did. The Mayans were also highly advanced astronomers with a calender much more accurate than the European calender. The Aztecs (concentrated in central Mexico), were a more warlike people than the Mayans. Around 1300 AD they settled on the site of what is now Mexico City. Led by powerful rulers, the Aztecs conquered virtually all their neighbors, creating a great empire of 5 million inhabitants in central Mexico. In the course of their many wars, the Aztec rulers took thousands of prisoners, whom they publically sacrificed to appease the War God. The Aztecs, like the Mayans, erected huge pyramids that displayed marvelous craftsmanship. In fact, their capital city of Tenochtitlan (on the site of present-day Mexico City) had a population of over 100,000. The city was located on an island had an extensive network of canals, botanical gardens, a zoo, and innovations such as the Chinampas. Chinampas were woven mats which floated on the lake and provided a fertile setting for growing crops. In the coastal mountains of South America, the Incas created an empire that paralleled the Aztecs to the north. At its height, 7 million people lived within its borders. Strong rulers like the Aztec chiefs, the Inca emperors built strong fortresses on the Andes Mountains and a network of roads that held their far-flung state together. They also kept a detailed census of their lands and had a paved road system that rivaled the roads of the great Roman Empire. Additionally, the Incas were among the most skilled metallurgists of the time, making a variety of weapons and ornaments out of gold, silver, and bronze. The Inca privileged class lived comfortably, but the sick and handicapped were taken care of by the government. For this reason, Incas society has often been referred to as one of the first modern welfare states. North American Indians: North of these great Indian civilizations were less complex, smallerscale cultures and societies. By 1492 there was a substantial population perhaps as many as 9 million people, in what is now the United States and Canada. This population was diverse in culture, economy, and social organization. There were twelve distinct language groups in the present-day United States, each embracing numerous individual tribes. These various tribes also had differing economies. Some were hunters and gatherers and others were farmers who cultivated corn, tobacco, melons, beans, and squash. Indian dwellings ranged from tepees of skin-covered poles, the typical homes of the western Plains Indians, to the impressive lodges made of wooden beams and covered with bark built by the Iroquois and other eastern peoples. Among the Hurons and many southeastern groups these structures were often grouped into towns surrounded by stockades. Although some Indian tribes were isolated and self-sufficient, others relied on trade with other tribes. Many of these Indian tribes were skilled in handicrafts, from their beautiful pottery to their swift birchbark canoes. Others, however, lived very simply, with few artifacts. The numerous peoples of California, for example, blessed with a mild climate and abundance of food, made do with minimal clothing and crude houses. Politically, these peoples varied greatly. The Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy, or the Six Nations, as they were called, were a powerful and warlike league, the terror of its Indian neighbors and the scourge of the later European settlers. On the other hand, the Delaware were peaceful and the Chippewas of present-day Ohio lived in many small bands and had little in common besides language. Tribal government varied widely. The Natchez of the lower Mississippi River Valley were ruled by an absolute despot called the Great Sun, who was chosen by the female suns when his predecessor died. The Iroquois had a kind of representative political system. Female clan heads elected the male delegates to the Confederacy council and the chiefs who governed the Six Nations. Religion was important among virtually all native Americans. Most believed in an ultimate, supreme being, the creator of nature, mankind, and all the good things of life. Indians held that spiritual forces resided in all living things. Like other religious peoples, they expressed their feelings about the change of seasons, hunting, death, love, and war in elaborate ceremonies that included dances, songs, feasts, and the wearing of vivid costumes and masks. Discovery of the Americas: Europeans first touched the Americas long before Columbus. According to early Scandinavian sagas, in 986 AD a Norwegian ship on the way to European settled Greenland was driven off course by a storm and narrowly escaped being dashed to pieces on an unfamiliar coast. The land this crew encountered- -probably Newfoundland- -was covered with forests and low hills. The Europeans were not interested in the new land and they did not disembark. When they finally reached Greenland, however, they reported their discovery. Ever on the lookout for new lands to settle, other Scandinavians soon followed. In the year 1000, Leif Ericsson, one of the founders of Greenland, sailed westward to investigate reports of the new land. He and his party found it relatively warm, densely forested with streams that overflowed with salmon. Finding what they later described as grapes, and hoping to encourage settlement of the new land, they dubbed the new country Vinland (Wineland) the Good. Norse settlers soon followed Ericsson to Vinland. In 1010, three boatloads of Greenlanders set out to establish permanent communities in North America. Indian attacks drove them away, but the Norse apparently made other attempts to colonize the country. Some garbled knowledge of the Norse discoveries spread throughout Europe, yet nothing happened. The first European contact with the Americas did not “take.” Europe quickly forget the 11th century Norse voyages to North America. It was almost as if they never took place. European Background and the Columbian Exchange Nevertheless, the isolation of the Americas did not last. The Old World eventually intruded into the New, and within a few generations the collision of these two worlds completely transformed both societies. To the people of Europe this contact with the Americas seemed a “discovery” but instead it was actually a meeting. According to the words of one historian, Columbus did not discover a new world; he established contact between two worlds already old. The question remains, then, why did Europe fail to follow up on the Norse voyages of the 11th century, and why did it respond differently in 1492? What had happened during the centuries separating Leif Ericsson from Christopher Columbus to change the way Europeans reacted to the momentous meeting of the two worlds? Uncovering the answer requires a bit of backpedaling. Eight hundred years before the Norse voyages, the Roman Empire had joined all parts of the Western European world into a peaceful, prosperous whole. Over the centuries, however, the empire had become too large to manage and it finally collapsed in the 5th century AD. In the centuries that followed waves of Germanic, Muslim, and Viking invaders ravaged the former lands of the empire. Many of these barbarian eventually settled down, and along with the remaining parts of Western Europe, began to form the social, political, and economic institutions that would eventually lead to modern Nation States. During this period, known as the Dark Ages, Europe was poor, politically divided, beset by local wars and civil disorder, and its people were largely illiterate and unfree. By the year 1000, Europe had disintegrated politically as well as economically. Kings reigned in France, Portugal, and Spain, but they were not like later monarchs. They did not have armies or navies at their disposal, nor did they have large financial resources; for instance, no European ruler had the ability to impose uniform national taxes. Instead, the economic system of the era was called Feudalism. Under this arrangement, kings granted estates to Vassals. The vassals owed allegiance to the king and were required to provide military service for a certain number of days per year (depending upon the contract). The estate worked by the vassal was called a Manor. Living and working on these manors were the peasants (Serfs), who were required to serve in their lord’s army at his request. Serfs were legally tied to the land; they could not leave and had to give their lord 1/3 to ½ of their crop in return for protection. Consequently, large scale military campaigns, because they were so expensive, were out of the question for most monarchs. Consequently, in the year 1000, Europe simply could not rise to the challenge of the newfound world to the west. It did not have the economic or technical resources, the political or social cohesion, or even the interest to do so. The disorganized, politically feeble, largely illiterate Europe of Leif Ericsson’s time was simply incapable of responding to the Norse encounter with the New World. Five hundred years later, however, when Columbus reported the discovery of the new route to the Indies, Europe reacted powerfully and decisively. This new response reflected the fact that some remarkable changes had taken place in Europe in the 500 years between Ericsson and Columbus. Revival of Trade and Commerce: The first of these changes was that Europe was beginning to experience a revival of trade and commerce. This revival would, in the long-run, undermine Feudalism and be instrumental in the rise of modern nation states in Western Europe. In part the change followed contact with the Islamic civilization that rimmed the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. For centuries, Western Christians were content with what they had. But then, at the very end of the 11th century, Europe unleashed the Crusades to recover the Holy Lands (Palestine) from the Muslims. After the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, Europeans settled on the Eastern edge of the Mediterranean. This brought Europeans into closer contact with Muslim traders and helped them to develop a greater awareness of Muslim culture. Trade and the chance to make money, however, was the driving force. Compared to the crude commodities produced by France, Germany, and England, the products of the Muslim world (especially silk, cotton, spices, and cabinetwork) were marvels of delicacy and sophistication. Many Europeans appreciated the skills and artistry of Muslim craftsmen, developed a taste for sugar, silks, and the luxury items of the Muslim world, and came to respect science and philosophy. This was a beginning of a change in European attitudes and an awakening to the opportunities of commercial relations with distant lands and cultures. Even more intriguing were the riches of the Orient. By the 11th century a lucrative trade had sprung up between Europe and remote China and India. Italian textiles, arms, armor, copper, and other items moved eastward; Oriental silk, jewels, and spices moved westward. The immense profits made in this trade made Italian merchants the envy of other European traders. The most important part of this East-West exchange was the spice trade. To Europeans, spices seemed indispensable to civilized living. They retarded decay, relieved the blandness, and disguised the poor quality of unrefrigerated meat. Europeans had long used many locally grown herbs to flavor their foods, but none could compare to pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and the other spices that could be found only in India, Ceylon, or the Spice Islands (Indonesia). Contact with Islam and the revival of long-distance trade were accompanied by a change in attitude toward money and the making of money. Prior to this, the Church outlawed Usery, the process of charging interest or fees for lending money. Monarchs often oppressed traders because the belief was that they were accumulating wealth in an unethical fashion. Nevertheless, as long-distance trade poured more money into the Church and the ruler’s pockets, they were forced to relax their ban on usery. Consequently, over time, banking became a highly profitable and respectable enterprise. The revival of trade also encouraged the growth of cities and prompted the destruction of Feudalism. Serfs found more opportunities in the cities, and as trade returned, new cities sprang up and old ones expanded. Besides the older cities of Italy, newer towns arose along the Baltic and North Seas to distribute the goods of the East and to serve the growing commerce of Northern Europe. This led to the growth of a powerful merchant class in Europe. These merchants, moreover, became natural allies for the various European kings because they loaned them money to finance their armies and other state projects. In the long run, the rise of a merchant class led to the growth of Mercantilism, or a money economy (as opposed to the former, which was a Barter Economy). This brought a great deal of wealth to the early European states and allowed the kings to impose national taxes (which allowed them to support armies and navies). Thus, in the quest for wealth, mercantilism led to the creation of modern nation states in Europe. It was these states that would finance the expeditions to the New World. Revolutions in Thought and Communication: Intellectual and cultural changes also made 1492 different from 1000. People in the Middle Ages had little sense of historical change. They gave the ancients little credit for their contributions to civilization and, in fact, knew little about them. Then, in the 14th century, Italian scholars began to discover that the ancient Greeks and Romans knew many things that they did not. This new realization was probably sparked by the interchange with Greek speaking Constantinople and the Muslim Mediterranean world, which had preserved and translated many ancient Greek and Latin works. It was reinforced by the discovery of hundreds of ancient manuscripts hidden in monasteries and libraries for almost a thousand years. This “rediscovery” of the Greco-Roman past is referred to as the Renaissance, which simply means “rebirth.” The new contact with the classical world was a wonderfully stimulating experience for Europe. Encountering a new civilization, even one long dead, made European culture richer and more complex. At the same time, it gave Europeans more confidence in themselves and the world they lived in. For most people at this time, life was extremely difficult. The vast majority of people were terribly poor by today’s standards. Warfare was a constant threat, as was famine or plague. The Renaissance, however, gave people the belief that they could transform society and make life better. This new attitude is called Humanism. Humanism embraced the things of this world, such as art, literature, architecture, and music. Prior to this, most people simply accepted their life as it was (even if it was bad) because they knew that after death they would have eternal salvation. Humanism, however, deflected their attention from religion and salvation to the things of this world. Nevertheless, it was not an anti-religious movement. Instead, it was concerned with the idea of improving people’s lives while on earth. Thus, the quest to improve human life, spurred on by the Humanistic ideas of the Renaissance, made 1492 different from 1000 AD. This change in attitude was greatly helped by the European discovery of printing. In ancient and Medieval times books had to be copied by hand and so were rare and very expensive. By the end of the Middle Ages the revival of trade had created a new class of literate people, but the high cost of recording people’s thoughts inevitably slowed the spread of ideas and knowledge. In the 1460s, however, an early form of the printing press was perfected by Johann Gutenberg, of Mainz, Germany. This technology quickly spread throughout Europe, and the impact was enormous. The new printing press, called Movable-Type, could copy hundreds of books in the time that it took to copy them by hand. By 1500, about 1000 printers were working in the trade, and they had printed over 6 million books. This made books much cheaper and greatly accelerated the spread of knowledge throughout Europe (this is comparable to the Internet in the rapid spread of knowledge and ideas). Many of these books were religious, but there were also scientific works, works on navigation, and numerous accounts of discoveries in foreign lands. New Technology: Advances in navigation and naval architecture also help ...
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School: University of Virginia


European Colonization-Outline
Question 1
I. Factors that pushed Europeans for exploration
a) Shorter route to Asian
b) Converting people to Christianity
c) Desire to get more land, wealth, and power
II. Major positives to exploration
a) Shorter routes to Asia
III. Disadvantages of exploration
a) Human trafficking
b) Diseases outbreak
c) Converting people’s indigenous cultures
Question 2

Black Death


Printing Press


Protestant Reformation






Columbian exchange








Mayflower Compact


European Colonization



European Colonization
Question 1

Europe is one of the leading colonizers to several countries, especially in Africa. Several
factors were pushing Europeans to explore other countries and continents. One of the primary
factors for the exploration is looking for the shorter route to Asian. Europeans for a long time
were trading with Asians, but the major problem was to access Asia since the route was
dangerous, far, and challenging (Basa, 2004). Traversing through Africa or going around it, for
instance, Vasco da Gama, the Europeans were hoping that they would find quicker routes to Asia
enhancing the trading between the two nations. Converting people to Christianity was another
factor that pushed the Europeans to exploration. When the Europeans manage to discover new
lands and find that the residents are not Christians, they use to take advantage by converting the
residents of the new nations into Christianity, pushing them to exploration.
Other factors that pushed the Europeans to exploration are the desire to get more land,
wealth, and power since they were competing with others for influence. Majority of the countries
had a belief that when one has more control over land, the land could help them become stronger
and therefore more influential. Europeans also man...

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