History a People and a Nation

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Lecture Two: Early Settlement of North America

I. The Vikings: First European Visitors to the New World:

--Vikings: groups of seafaring warriors from Scandinavia region (modern day Sweden, Norway, Denmark) most of them small farmers. --Between 750-1050 A.D. clans and family groups unite and begin raiding expeditions to Russia and Western Europe in search of agricultural produce and other riches. --By the end of the first millennia AD (late 9th century-10th century) a small group of them ventured west on the Atlantic, settling Iceland and Greenland --930 there are 30,000 Norse (as newly Christianized Vikings are called) in Iceland --By 982 there is evidence that under the direction of Erik the Red they had discovered and settled in Greenland and had developed significant farming communities. --An adventurous lot by nature, a large party of these Vikings under Leif Erickson explore further west after 1000 --This group takes residence in what they call ‘Vineland’ due its soil’s greater capacity to bear fruit—located in modern day New Found Land (this settlement was unearthed by archaeologists in 1961 at a place called L’Ainse aux Meadows). --Establish permanent living arrangements in the form of log longhouses. --After only ten years, though, this first European settlement in North America was abandoned after only 10 years; Norse continued to visit the area and trade with the Indians periodically. -- Their lack of numbers in the face of competition and sometimes hostile relations with Native Americans is one of the main reasons for their withdrawal --There are not many Vikings overall in Greenland either, an additional reason they cannot sustain the more far-flung settlement in North America; though they do stay in Greenland for an additional 400 years. --The main lesson to take away from the ‘failure’ of the Vikings to establish a permanent settlement in North America is that future colonizers will need critical mass to maintain control of a new environment—i.e. significant resources, access to manpower. II. Europe Moves Toward Exploration Once Again:

--Following the short-lived Viking experiment in Newfoundland, Europeans will wait for nearly 500 years to become involved in the Western Hemisphere. --Important Question: Why does that change by 1500?

Reasons:
A. Technological Improvements: Rebirth of classical learning in arts and sciences known as the Renaissance. --With the growing interest in science and technology, Europeans adopted and made improvements in the inventions of others: compass, shipbuilding, mapmaking. --All important for oceanic exploration.

B. Religious Conflict and Pride: Age of Discovery and Exploration was also the same period of intense religious debate and conflict --Catholic Church was losing power against Protestant revolt, while succeeding against Islamic Moors. --Soon after last of Islamic groups who had conquered European areas centuries earier were finally evicted in the late 15th century in Spain, certain Christians in Germany, England, France, Holland began Protestant Reformation—led to conflict between Catholics and Protestants. --End result is the fueling of a desire for each religious group to be motivated toward spreading their own beliefs to nonbelievers around the world —Attempts to convert natives will be a major motive for exploration and colonization. C. Expanding Trade: Economic motivations for exploration grew out of a fierce competition among European kingdoms for increased trade with Africa, India, and China. --Formerly this trade had traveled from Italian City state of Venice and Byzantine city of Constantinople on overland route stretching all the way to China; now blocked when in 1453, the Ottoman Turks had seized Constantinople. --Atlantic Ocean-facing country of Portugal and its Prince Henry the Navigator led the European search for a shorter more viable ocean route to the East. --Portugal had well developed fishing and trading operations; and in the...
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