AHistorical Analysis of the New World was conquered by Europeans
Theimpact that historical events have in the modern day are evident inalmost every aspects of our society today. Through the study ofhistory, we develop a sense of the past. This allows us to gain abetter understanding of the impactthatit has on our lives today. In part, it provides us with acomprehensive understanding of how cultures and societal valuesdeveloped differently through time. As such, in trying to understandour past, a historical analysis of the events as well as the peoplewho shaped the present is very important. In addition, historyprovides us with the opportunity to understand change by exploringhow our daily lives have changed through the years including, thefactors that played significant roles in fostering that change. Thispaper discusses some of the key aspects present in the three primarysources that document the history of the European conquest in the newworld.. Further, the paper compares and contrasts the three sourcesand documents my personal thought on my experiences with the selectedsources.
TheEuropean conquest of the Americas has been recorded as one of thegreatest events in history. It allows us to connect with points ofviews, ideas, and lifestyles as well as the material conditions thathelp us to understand the earlier societies and their values. It wasa turning point for the America when the extensive colonization ofthe region began in 1492 with the arrival of a Spanish expedition tothe west led by Christopher Columbusi.This region (North and South America) was later referred to as theNew World by the Europeans, given the industrial expansion,large-scale exploration and expansion, and colonization of the areaswhere they settled. Therefore, through the analysis of the Europeansuccesses in conquering the diverse empires of the Americas includingthe ramifications of the conquest, we are able to understand thepolitical, social and economic livelihood of this period as well astheir implications on our lives today.
Thereare many sources from which historical details may be obtained.However, the use of primary sources in conducting a historicalanalysis in invaluable. Primary sources comprise of the originalautobiographies, diaries, and documents that were written during theperiod being studied. As such, they offer a clearer insight of thehuman nature and actions in the past that can be associated with thecurrent outcomes. This is because they are free from possibledistortion given that they have an immediate connection with sourceof the information, though or idea. Therefore, the analysis ofprimary sources with information about the conquest of the Europeansin the New World enables us to develop an appreciation for diversity.This is vital as it helps us to understand the world better in thepresent day. Moreover, getting to know the lifestyles and worldviewof the people from the past enlightens the understanding of culturalbeliefs and norms.
Summationof the key aspects of the written sources
Inorder to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the Europeanconquest of the new world, several primary sources will be examinedto identify some of the key aspects that date to that period. In thissection, I will provide a summary of a few key point from FlorentineCodex, Aztecviews of the Spaniards,Nzinga Mbemba, Lettersto the King of Portugal (1526),and He Ao, Commentary on the foreigners (ca. 1420). Each of thesesources provides varied characteristics of the culture andrelationships during the period of the conquest, depending on thecategory of history within which it falls.
Aztecviews of the Spaniards, Florentine Codex
Thissource speaks the impressions that Aztec community had of theSpaniards. The document provides a detailed report that was deliveredby the messengers who had been sent by Moctezuma to greet the Corteswhile bearing gifts. The report provides a clear picture of themilitary history of the Spaniards as they began to conquer theAmericas. As such, it also highlights their military capabilitieswhen they first arrived in the new world. iiThekinds of weaponry that the Spaniards possessed was a new and peculiarscene for the people of the Aztec empire (Pollard et al., 2015, Pg.448). This included guns, iron armors and shields as well as theirhorses.
Anotherkey aspect portrayed in the document is the artistic cultural historyof the Aztec people. Within the text, a unique form of visual art hadbeen depicted through the descriptions that were provided by theMoctezuma’s emissaries upon return to their empire. For instance,they describe the Spaniards horses as deer that were as tall as theroof. This is also evident when they describe the appearance andbehavior of the Spaniard`s dogs.
Thetext also points out the type of relations that emperor of the Aztecempire had with the other people, in this case, outsiders. Uponreceiving the news of the arrival of Spaniards, we see the emperor,Moctezuma, sending messengers bearing gifts to welcome the new people(Pollard et al., 2015, Pg. 428). Moreover, we find that the emperordid not at all prepare for any type of military engagement with theSpaniards upon their arrivaliii.This kind of reception portrays the diplomatic relations as well asleadership qualities of the people of Aztec.
Lettersto the King of Portugal (1526), Nzinga Mbemba
Thissource documents the frustrations that the King of Congo, NzingaMbemba, was experiencing in the process of establishing a partnershipwith the Portuguese authorities. Within the text, there are severalhistorical aspects that are evident. First, the political conflictbetween authorities is portrayed through the clash of power. We seethe Portuguese officials giving the merchants the freedom to tradecommodities that had been prohibited within the kingdom. As such, thetype of political relationships that existed between the Portugueseand the King of Congo, as well as the forms of conflict resolution,are accentuated.
Secondly,the regard that the King of Congo had to their culture is alsoevidenced by the source. In the letters, Nzinga Mbemba stressed onthe damages that came upon the kingdom due to the power exercised bythe Portuguese authority. For instance, we see him mentioning how thefreedom that was given to the merchants by the Portuguese authoritiesundermined their religious practicesiv.Therefore, we get to see how important religion was to the people ofCongo owing to the fact that some activities carried out by themerchants caused harm to the service of God.
Lastly,the text also highlights economic activities as one of the majorpractices in the kingdom of Congo. We see that the people of Congowere preservative as to the type of trade that was acceptable withinthe kingdom. As such, the Portuguese’s influence and advocacy forslave trade were not well received by the authorities in Congo.Nzinga Mbemba was particularly not pleased with the manner in whichhis kingdoms was being depopulated as a result of the slave trade(Pollard et al., 2015, Pg. 449).
Commentaryon the foreigners (ca. 1420), Ming official, He Ao
Thissource emphasizes the sentiments that one the Ming officials had ofthe Europeans, who he refers to as Feringis. As he speaks of theircruelty, He Ao portrays some important aspects of the period. Forinstance, he depicts the struggle for power to control the capital ofMing. This was fought among the Europeans themselves due to their ownpride. This highlights the internal power struggles that wereprevalent during that period as each military leader strived to get apiece of the Ming dynasty.
Second,the significance of trade within the Ming dynasty is also evidencedin the source. He Ao speaks of the fighting and bloodshed that wouldresult if they allowed the Europeans to control the trade in theregion. We find that the merchants in china were also profit mindedand therefore, smuggled commodities into the hands of the Europeanmerchants. From this, we are able to see the role of trade as notonly a means of commerce but a source of power.
Third,Ming also speaks of the time of their ancestors when foreigners onlyvisited their kingdom at fixed periods as provided by the law. Wefind that the previous emperors of the dynasty were not veryreceptive to outsiders as they believed they were a threat to China’speace and prosperity. Therefore, as a result of the neglect to thisprecautions, the Europeans became more familiar with their fairways(Pollard et al., 2015, Pg. 449). As such, the text highlights a shiftfrom the Chinese preservative ways with the arrival of the outsiders.
Analysisof the written sources
Fromthe summation above, it is evident that all the sources provide arich history regarding the European Conquest in the America. This isbecause they offer vivid descriptions of the happenings during theperiod, their livelihood, sentiments as well as their cultures.However, the Florentine Codex,Aztec views of the Spaniards,proves to be more detailed and valuable primary written source as itspurpose was to compile accounts of the Spanish conquests making it acredible source. This is also true for the lettersto the king of Portugalas its author is the King of Congo who moved to air out hisfrustrations regarding his attempted partnership with the Portugueseauthorities. On the other hand, the commentary on the foreigners maybe perceived as bias of perspective as the author only speaks of hissentiments towards the European who had docked at the shores of theirdynasty. As such, its credibility is doubtful and cannot, therefore,be used as a reliable primary source.
Personalview of the selected sources
Inmy opinion, the selected documents have proved satisfactory asprimary sources on the history of the European conquest of the newworld. Each of the sources has provided clear insights into thehistory of the period when they were written. Moreover, each of theauthors has provided a comprehensive account of their experiencesthrough the use of symbolisms and similes. As such, the sources haveprovided unique perspectives which may be used to understand certainaspects regarding the life, culture, and relationships that existedduring the conquest.
Inlight of the above, the role that history plays in understanding thepresent is evidenced. Through the study of history, we are able tocomprehend the significance of a historical event as well as theimpact it has on our lives today. However, this can only be achievedthrough the exploration of primary sources of evidence that werewritten during the period under study. From the above, theaforementioned sources offer a great insight into the history of theEuropean conquest. Therefore, this information can be used tounderstand aspects of the present that have been shaped by the eventsthat transpired during the period.
i Pollard et al 423
ii Pollard, E., Rosenberg, C., Tignor, R. (2015). Worlds together, worlds apart (pp. 420-449). New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
iii Pollard et al 428
iv Pollard et al 449