Spanish Exploration

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To what extent was the acquisition of the new world economically good for Spain

Spain wanted a lot of things. It wanted to expand its knowledge of the world that they had never seen. They also wanted to have a larger empire, find spices and other riches, and expand Christianity. The fundamental aspect of the voyages that were undergone by Spain was to acquire gold and silver to pay for their wars with the Turkish Empire. Beginning with Columbus in 1492 and continuing for nearly 350 years, Spain conquered and settled most of South America, the Caribbean, and the American Southwest. After an initial wave of conquistadors, aided by military advantages and infectious diseases that decimated the native population, defeated the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas, Spain organized a huge imperial system to exploit the land, labour and mineral wealth of the New World. This was good for Spain as they were able to gain huge sums of money quickly through gold and silver which took the civilizations they were decimating thousands of years to collect. However all of Spain’s new found riches did not help to solve their underlying national problem of bankruptcy. It caused inflation, and Spain was left practically bankrupt from which it took hundreds of years to recover from which was extremely bad for Spain. Spanish exploration was positive in the short term but in the long term was very damaging and was not the financial solution Spain thought it was.

Spain’s ‘looting’ of the Americas at the start of their exploration of the new world, beginning with Columbus, was slow. Possession of their main goal, to obtain as much gold and silver as possible, was not fast enough. Ferdinand quickly became desperate for more: "Get gold, humanely if you can; but at all hazards, get gold!" he wrote to the New World colonists on July 25, 1511 as Columbus’s first voyage had cost 2 million maravedis, and the proceeds were worth only a few thousand. This was damaging

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