Socioeconomic Structures and History in Spanish and Portuguese America from the Conquest Until Post Colonial Period

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Heather Coffey
HIST 3401W
December 18th, 2012

Socioeconomic Structures and History in Spanish and Portuguese America from the Conquest until Post Colonial Period

Throughout the entire history of Portuguese and Spanish occupation of the Americas there were evolving hierarchies, labor regimes, gender relations, sources of wealth, regions of wealth, trade routes, uprisings, economic hard times and high times, etc. A very prominent source behind this constant ebb and flow of the history of Portuguese and Spanish Americas can easily be attributed to the economic forces always at play. It can be seen in the reasons for the conquest of Latin america and South America, the onset of the colonial period and the rebellions of eighteenth century. It is important to understand the economic drives that were in play in the beginning of the conquest because it would inevitably change the social landscape of Mexico, the outlying islands and South America forever.

The Age of Exploration brought upon a wealth of knowledge for the world, and specifically for the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal it also brought a lot of wealth. The rivalry between the two kingdoms and need for financial gains led the two to divide the areas of the world where exploration was viable with the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 which divided the lands East of the demarcation line (halfway between the Cape Verde Islands) to Portugal and the lands west of that to Spain. Keeping within these boundaries, explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro (among many others) scoured the newly discovered Americas in search of new land, but also new sources of wealth.

Upon reaching the Americas, both in Mexico and the surrounding areas as well as South America, one of the main goals was the search for wealth in Gold and Silver. The hunt for both as well as other rich resources at first led the explorers on a wild goose chase around the alien lands and native people until areas...
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