University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Change and Continuity 1492-1750
An example of continuity during this time period is how Spain continued to try to spread Christianity. They spread Christianity to the Americas in an attempt to convert them from “savages”. They expelled anyone who did not follow their religion just as Spain had for years. Conquistadors continued to spread this religion throughout the New World and also killed any opposition. One example of a change during this time period could be the introduction of the Triangular Trading Route which connected the Americas to Africa and Europe.
The implication of this new system of trade was completely new to the natives of the Americas and brought them new goods. The implementation of the new trading route had a primarily negative effect on the natives of the Americas in the sense that it introduced new diseases to the Americas to which the natives were not immune. The reason they were not immune to these diseases was because they were never exposed to them and therefore had no opportunity to build up and immunity to them. These diseases ranged from small pox to measles. They killed millions of natives.
This also lead to the start of the slave trade so that a new labor force could be used. Another example of change during this time period could be how the natives of the New World were forced into Christianity by the Catholic country of Spain. Originally, the natives of the Americas practiced a polytheistic religion which included human sacrifice, cannibalism, and of course multiple gods. When the Spanish arrived to the New World, they were appalled to see the rituals of these natives and thereby forced them into the monotheistic religion of Christianity.
The way they thought Christianity was they took a child and educated them on the ways of Christianity and then sent the child back to the tribe to spread the ideas of Christianity. Zheng He could have discovered the Americas in as early as 1405, because he had the technology but he instead traveled around the Indian Ocean. If he had discovered the Americas, he could have made China a world power and spread the chinese culture to the Americas. Yet another example of change during the time period of 1492 to 1750 was the introduction of the encomienda system in the New World.
The encomienda system is a form of feudalism introduced to the New World by Spain from the 1400s to the 1700s. The Spaniards would be paid by the native population for “protection”. The initial goal of the encomienda system was to spread Christianity throughout the New World. As stated previously they spread the religion by taking one child and teaching him to read, write, and comprehend the Christian religion. They would send the child back and instruct him to spread the religion. This forced the natives to convert to the Christian religion.
The Spaniards offered little to no protection to the native population, but rather exploited them. The natives acted as a free labor force making Spain richer than ever before. This lead to yet another example of change, a dramatic reduction in the native population due to poor working conditions. Millions more died due to disease and violence inflected upon them by the Spaniards. In the end the native population was reduced by over 150 million. This also lead to an increase in the need for a labor force and so the Atlantic Slave Trade was introduced.
In its time millions of Africans will be transported via boat and those who died or became sick on the treacherous voyage would simply be dumped overboard. The reason African slaves were a safe alternative to the Natives of the Americas was because they were immune to many diseases that that had wiped out the Natives of the Americas. That is why Africans were a more reliable slave labor force. This is why even though the time period of 1492 to 1750 had a lot of continuities, it had more changes.