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Spain's Established American Empire

Uploaded by obcd21212 on Jun 09, 2005

Benchmark Essay: How did Spain establish an American Empire?

In 1507, Spain published an Introduction to Cosmography…to which are added The Four Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci…The atlas proposed that the “fourth part of the earth”---beyond Europe, Asia, and Africa---that “Amerigo discovered” should be called “Amerige, the land of Amerigo… or America.” The latter paragraphs will include the vigorous expeditions and actions taken that led the Spaniards to establish an American Empire.

A quarter century after Columbus’s first voyage, Spain concentrated its attention on the islands in the western Atlantic. In 1517, an expedition that explored Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico reported the existence of civilizations on the mainland that were richer and more populous that any in the Caribbean, in which Spain had totally stripped of its gold and native population. Two years later, the Spanish governor in Havana commissioned the thirty-four-year-old Hernando Cortes to make contact with the Indian empire in Mexico. Cortes set sail with eleven ships and over 500 men.

The invaders landed near the modern town of Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico. Then marched to the Valley of Mexico, collecting thousands of Indian allies along the way. Cortes had little difficulty winning support from Indian peoples anxious to break loose from the Aztecs’ hold. The Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, decided to invite Cortes to enter his capital, Tenochtitlan, peacefully. Montezuma fed the Spaniards’ greed with gold and other gifts. But, distrusting his intentions, they seized and held him captive until he was killed in the midst of a massive uprising against the invaders. Then, on the night of June 30-July 1, 1520---“La Noche Triste” (sorrowful night)---Aztec insurgents forced the Spaniards to flee the city, losing the riches they had collected as well as a third of their men. But over the next year, Cortes reorganized his followers, mobilized his Indian allies, and built thirteen brigantines that he equipped with firearms and used to control the causeways and block supplies form entering the island city. Finally, on August 21, 1521, the Spanish retook Tenochtitlan, destroying many of its buildings and people in the process.

With the defeat of the Aztecs, the conquistadores, or conquerors, set out in search of other peoples to subdue and despoil. Between 1524 and 1533, Spaniards under Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca peoples of Peru’s Andean highlands, accumulating in the process thousands of pounds of gold and silver. From Peru, expeditions of...

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Uploaded by:   obcd21212

Date:   06/09/2005

Category:   History

Length:   3 pages (706 words)

Views:   4781

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