September 11, 2012
HIS 107; European History, 1500-1815
Response Journal #2
The opening of the New World was aroused by traveling into diverse geographic areas and by discovering different ways of life. Discoveries of the Europeans created new ways of cultural exchange, conversion, and generally expanded their cognition of the world and its inhabitants in its great diversity. Let me, perhaps, explore the Imaginary World, as described by “fables about the east” in Mandeville on Prester John, and the Real World, as outlined in chronicles of Christopher Columbus in Extracts from Journal and of Hernan Cortes in From Second Letter to Charles V, 1520. In Prester John’s vision, he imagined men of the east as, “In that desert be many wild men, that be hideous to look on; for they be horned, and they speak nought, but they grunt, as pigs.” As opposed to actual observation of Columbus where he describes men of foreign land as, “They all go completely naked, even the women…. … their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse’s tail….” Or by another peculiar observance of Cortes, “The inhabitants of this city pay a greater regard to style in their mode of dress and politeness of manners than those of the other provinces and cities….”Each of these articles gives odd visual illustration of men.
The other important point, as evidence from the Columbus’ and Cortes’ reports, Europeans wanted to subjugate the natives by imposing their cultural and religious value to them. Their goal was to partake of new resources that they are exposed to convert these people, either forcefully or voluntarily, as suggested in both, the Columbus’ Journal, “ As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, . . .” and the Cortes’ Letter, “. . . and I forbade them sacrificing human beings to their idols as they had been accustomed to do; because, besides being...