Sample Chapter Spanish Conquistadors

Sample Chapter
The Early Explorers Book 1
The Conquistadors

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Dispute Between Spain and Portugal
Columbus had stopped to consult with Portugal’s John II before returning to Spain on his first voyage. Feeling threatened by the Spanish sponsored voyage, the Portuguese king had dispatched a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella warning that all lands south of the Canary Islands belonged to Portugal, as stated by the Treaty of Alcáçovas.
Treaty of Alcáçovas
Spain and Portugal had fought a war, known as the War of the Castilian Succession, in which the Portuguese defeated the Castilians in the mostly inconclusive war in the 1478 Battle of Guinea. The Treaty of Alcáçovas ended the war. The Treaty gave the Portuguese control of the Azores, Madeira, the Cape Verde islands and “lands discovered and to be discovered…and any other island which might be found and conquered from the Canary islands beyond toward Guinea.” The Castilians retained control of the Canary Islands, which they had begun colonizing in 1402. The treaty was noteworthy as it was the first treaty that bestowed upon European powers the authority to create spheres of influence in overseas territories without input from the natives living there.
Christopher Columbus Changed the Situation
King John’s letter to the Spanish monarchs alarmed them, as they did not have sufficient naval forces in the Atlantic to back up their claims that Columbus had made in their behalf. They decided to consult with Spanish-born pope Alexander VI to issue a decision on the new discoveries.
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas had divided the New World between Spain and Portugal. It divided it along a line drawn up along a line drawn from pole to pole that passed about 320 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. Spanish-born pope Alexander VI had issued a papal bull that established this line. The two countries agreed to this on June 7, 1494. Spain received the lands to the west of the line, Portugal to the east. The Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella commissioned Columbus to return for a third voyage. Part of his mission was to try to discover the extent of their new possessions.
Spain ratified the Treaty on July 2, 1494, Portugal on September 5, 1494.

Spanish Conquistadors
The Age of the Conquistadores lasted about three decades and left an indelible mark on South, Central and North America. The Conquistadors, literally “conqueror,” in Spanish, conquered and explored large tracts of territory in all three continents. The reader may wonder what sort of men made up this compelling force, what motivated them, what was the structure of their armies and what sort of weapons they used. This section will attempt to answer those questions.
Who They Were
A conquistador army was not part of the Spanish military, it was an independent force authorized by the Spanish king and queen. The men that comprised the a conquistador force came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Many were military veterans, released from service when Spain reduced the size of its army after the Reconquista and other wars. Others had non military backgrounds, having been sailors, fishermen, and nobles in the past. Many poor men whose future was not promising also enlisted in the conquistadores force. Recruits received education in reading, writing, math and languages. They learned military arts from their officers and with luck and valor in battle could gain election as officers from their peers. Spanish law forbade single Spanish women from settling in the new lands, thus most women that accompanied a Spanish force would be in company with their husband. Many of the soldiers would thus marry native women and settle in the new lands. Spanish law also forbade anyone that was not Spanish from immigrating, thus men of other nationalities often changed their name to a Spanish one to qualify for enlistment. Even though the Spanish government encouraged these expeditions, they did not finance them. Generally, a group of former military types would gather, form a company and organize the expedition, picking up other recruits as needed. They financed the expedition themselves. Most conquistadores did not gain vast amounts of riches through these expeditions. Many times the Spanish government took over the administration, and tax revenue, of the lands they conquered, forcing them to continue exploring, and conquering, new lands.
Motivation – Gold and Riches
The quest for gold fueled the motivations of the conquistadores. Europe had very little native gold. Kings needed gold to pay their armies. Spain’s smaller population and inferior resources made it more dependent upon foreign mercenaries than their traditional rivals of France and Italy. The conquests of the conquistadores and the discovery of gold in the Inca and Aztec empires led to Spain becoming the leading holder of gold in Europe. Historians estimate that somewhat less than 100 tons of gold made their way across the Atlantic from the New World to the old within 60 years after Columbus’ last voyages. The Spanish government effectively confiscated this rich supply of gold when they replaced the conquistadors as leaders of the various regions with Spanish bureaucrats. This action led the conquistadores to travel further into the interior in search of more gold.

Sample Chapter – The New World Discoverers – Bartholomew Gosnold

Sample Chapter
The New World Discoverers
Bartholomew Gosnold
May 15, 1602 – Cape Cod Discovered By English Navigator Bartholomew Gosnold 

Gosnold launched an expedition to attempt permanent settlement in the New World in 1602. Sassafras was one of the major products they wanted. After reaching the southern coast of modern day Maine on May 14, 1602, he sailed south and encountered Cape Cod. John Brereton, who accompanied the expedition as navigator, recorded the voyage in his journal. The publishing of that journal later that year helped publicize the possibilities of the new land.
Bartholomew Gosnold (1571 – 22 August 1607)
Anthony Gosnold and Dorothy Bacon birthed their son, Bartholomew, near Suffolk, England. He attended the University of Cambridge and studied law at Middle Temple. In 1602 he sought, and gained, backing to mount an expedition to the New World to found a permanent settlement. The trading posts up to this time were of short duration. Because of the desirable products they obtained merchants wanted permanent settlements.
John Brereton (ca. 1571/1572 – ca. 1632)
Brereton came from a prosperous Norwich, England merchant family. He attended Cambridge University, receiving his master’s degree in 1593 and his bachelor’s degree in 1596. He entered the ministry by ordination into the Church of England later in 1596. He took a curacy at Lawshall, Suffolk. The parish there included Bartholomew Gosnold’s cousins and it is probably through them that he became acquainted with Bartholomew Gosnold. He served as navigator during Gosnold’s voyage and kept a journal of their experiences. Upon his return he organized and published them as Briefe and True Relation of the Discoverie of the North Part of Virginia in 1602. This account of their experiences helped publicize the New World and aided later colonization efforts.
The Sassafras tree can grow to sixty feet tall, with straight trunks. Virginia and the eastern part of this New World had bountiful stands of this much desired tree. Sassafras produces two things that the English wanted. Its strong, beautiful wood was a durable building material. The fragrant tree produces rich safrole, oil that is useful for many things. All parts of the tree contain this oil, but the root has the biggest concentration. The oil, distilled from the roots, finds use as an ingredient in perfumes and soaps. A tea made from the roots many believed cured the ague and flavored root beer. Sassafras was banned in 1960 because of a link to liver cancer. Safrol free oils are now permitted for flavoring and use as a tonic.
The 1602 Voyage and Settlement
English efforts to colonize North America had so far failed, but many still desired to establish colonies there to trade with the Amerindians for the furs, tobacco, sassafras and other desirable products. Gosnold, Brereton and thirty-one others set sail from Falmouth, England on March 26, 1602. They arrived on May 14 and discovered Cape Cod the next day. On May 16 they discovered, and named, Martha’s Vineyard and Elizabeth Islands. On Elizabeth Island they built a stockade. Brereton planted some experimental crops that included wheat, barley, and peas. These did quite well in the rich soil. The explorers established trading relations with the local tribes and traded with them for the furs, skins, sassafras and other highly desirable items. They considered creating a permanent settlement on that spot, but decided that their numbers were too few and that they had inadequate provisions. They departed for England on July 23, 1602.
Brereton’s account, which is still available to read, describes the explorer’s experiences in what would become Virginia. He detailed the plants, abundant supplies of fish and wildlife present there. He also wrote about the rich soil and how fast his experimental plantings went. He wrote it to promote the bounty of the new land. Gosnold went on to become an influential member of the later successful Jamestown settlement in 1607.

The New World Discoverers

The New World Discoverers
The New World Discoverers

The New World Discoverers

The Voyages of the Age of Discovery

Readers will find short biographies of many of the famous and some little known men that led voyages to the New World during the Age of Discovery. Learn the stories of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Henry Hudson and John White. Learn how explorer Amerigo Vespuci became the namesake of the new continent that Christopher Columbus discovered.

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter
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