The motives for the exploration and colonization of the New World did not differ much from country to country. Though different motivations may have been emphasized more heavily in certain counties, most explorations were spurred by religious reasons, commercial causes, and the desire for expanded power around the globe.
The population of Europe resurged during the years following the Black Death, which was responsible for killing approximately one third of the population between 1347-1447 (Brinkley 9). This resurgence caused a strain on already-scarce resources, a rise in land values and a general rise in interest in economic and commercial concerns. The newfound wealth in turn caused the people to desire more and different goods, and the surge in population caused a desire for more land to expand upon.
As a result of the waning power of the Holy Roman Empire, the governments of the nation-states were becoming more centralized and localized. The natural result of this centralization of power was competition, both economic and logistical. The beginnings of economically successful exploration by Marco Polo and the Portugese were encouraging to those wishing for more availability of goods and possible expansion of power into new lands. With few exceptions, the early explorers were very successful. Many, such as Marco Polo, returned with great riches and tales of far-away lands. Spurred by these tales of wonder and success, the Spanish began many exploration programs, headed by different explorers, and with different purposes.
The Conquistadors, headed by Hernando Cortez, were primarily concerned with conquering and enslaving the peoples who inhabited the lands that they encountered and gaining riches through searches for silver and gold, thus earning the reputation as being both vile and cruel invaders.
The religious motivations for exploration and colonization were varied: some cultures and explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, saw exploration as...
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