Compare and Contrast the Early Colonial Empires of Portugal, Spain, and England in Terms of Motives, Economic Foundations, and Relations with Africans and Native Americans. What Factors Explain the Similarities and Differences in the Two Ventures?

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“Compare and contrast the early colonial empires of Portugal, Spain, and England in terms of motives, economic foundations, and relations with Africans and Native Americans. What factors explain the similarities and differences in the two ventures?”

Darwin proclaimed that when push comes to shove, only the robust characters would survive. Outfitted with an effective military, a divine hostility against competing faiths and diseases unknown to even the carriers, three powerful and greedy nations overpowered opposition to their company in Africa and the New World. Natives to these lands were no matches against Portugal’s superior methods of navigation, or Spain’s newly unified and powerful sovereign whom would undertake effortless tactics to Christianize the entire world undiscovered or long discovered. Although England was last to fuse an overseas empire they also far exceeded expectations in establishing profitable investments and typical poor relations with the strangers who originally settled in this “New World”. Initially explorers desired merely a shorter route to the east, but once the spoils of treasures and additional jurisdiction became a tenable purpose self indulgence was all that remained of the pure motives.

Portugal was a pioneer fathering the Age of Exploration. She set out to investigate the coastlines of Africa in the middle of the 15-century looking to just dig up the unheard of. In an effort to accomplish these terrifying ambitions, Bartolomeu Dias rounded the tip of the “dark continent” south of Europe in 1488 opening a direct route beyond Africa through the Cape of Good Hope. This fueled interest in finding quicker routes starting with Vasco De Gama who was the first to reach India traveling the long passage around the coast. Along the shoreline in places such as Madeira, Sao Tome and Principe, the Portuguese launched an economically sound foundation of sugarcane plantations and gold trading posts. They enjoyed a private monopoly of slave and gold trade for over a century without any hindrance from Spain or Britain. Portugal enslaved over 800 peoples annually. When the time came to look into what the uninvestigated world had to offer the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 didn’t even grant them one third of the discoveries. To compensate for the lack of territory besides Brazil, Portugal was offered possessions in Africa and Asia. Their relations with the native people of Africa was more significant than that of South America primarily due to the fact that they occupied more land in Africa. Slavery was a significant part of their plantation industry. If the Africans weren’t enslaved they were merchant willing to exchange Portuguese goods for gold and more slaves. A naïve country was left to fend its own posts in Africa while its neighbors ruthlessly colonized the New World.

Spain was experiencing special circumstances at the time which set the scene for its voyages through the Atlantic. Ferdinand and Isabel had married uniting Aragon and Castile, two predominant masses of land. Together they funded the Spanish Inquisition with hopes of riding Spain of the Muslims and Jews creating a distinct Catholic nation. Christianization was a main concern of Isabel as she financed Columbus’ expedition across the open seas. He guaranteed a triumphant journey and a well-invested venture on the Queens part. When Columbus returned with accounts of a New World the kingdom of Ferdinand an Isabel saw an opportunity to broaden the Christian faith. So began the “Black Legend” also known as slaughter for Christ. The yearning to Christianize a new place was a primary drive in Spain’s missions in America. By 1769 300,000 members of California’s native community were descended into the Christian devotion willingly or not. Upon arrival of the conquistadors they were treated like Gods because that’s what they were mistaken for. Lands of silver and gold put sailors on their knees desiring the wealth presented before them....
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