Explain the Factors That Encourage European Settlement and Rivalries in the Americas

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In this essay I will examine the differing motivations that European nations had to come to the Americas. First and foremost I will explain the factors they had in common. All the European nations were beginning to experience a massive growth in population, recovering from the terrible depredations of the Black Death of the fourteenth century. Population growth brought in its wake the growth of national economies, the growth of consumer demand (including demand for exotic products), and the development of advances in shipbuilding and navigation, so that mariners could compete more effectively in the mercantile traffic of fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century Europe. The resurgence of commerce also gave a powerful impetus to the forces of centralization and nationalism, building powerful new monarchic nations whose leaders were intent on consolidating their claims to power by cultivating and fostering the economic development of their nations. Finally, European nations, fascinated by and hungry for increased trade with the we wealthy nations of Asia, sought better and more effective routes of transportation and trade which, in turn, drove these governments to encourage advances in shipbuilding and navigation, and then voyages of exploration. The Spanish and the Portuguese came to the Americas to pursue dreams of empire, both secular and religious. Although the Portuguese acquired Brazil under the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), the Spanish were the principal Iberian power in the Americas. Their religious aims were simple: to win these lands and peoples for Catholicism. Their secular aims included bringing Central and South America under their imperial governance to augment the power of Spain in world affairs, seeking great wealth (both the gold and gems that were rumored to abound in the Americas), and gratifying their individual ambitions for power and glory (especially in a stratified society like Spain, the Americas offered intoxicating opportunities for...
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