The essay portion of the exam will consist of two separate sections of essays. You will be required to answer a question from each section, two essays all together. Again, each essay should be 2 to 3 pages, double-spaced. Your answer should have a clear beginning, middle, and conclusion. The beginning should state the question you are answering and the interpretation you will develop in the main body of the answer. The middle part should be the longest and consist of a narrative of key events, historical facts, and subjects/objects pertinent to the question structured in an interpretative framework. The end should be a restatement of your thesis
1) What were the key moments and events in the “Affair of the Indies?” Who were the defenders of the Spanish colonization of the Indies and what were their arguments? Who were the critics of Spanish Imperialism and what were the key arguments against Spain’s actions in the New World? What consequences of the “Affair of the Indies, if any, were there in the development of Spain’s colonization of Latin America?
The ‘Affairs of the Indies’ refers to a period whereby Spanish conquered the Americas leading to its colonization. The overseas expansion had been initiated under the Crown of Castile and began with Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Caribbean in 1492. The Spanish empire sent out different notable conquistadors such as Hernan Cortes, and Francisco Pizarro to conquer the New World. The onset of the Spanish Colonization of the New World led to critics and proponents arguing over the moral justification over the treatment of the native people.
The Spanish colonization of the Americas was first initiated with the aim of spreading Christianity and for trading purposes. The Americas became part of Spain’s overseas colonies with the exception of Canada and Brazil. One of the biggest supporters of Spain’s colonization of the Americas included priests and notable scholars such as Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. The Spanish had learned of the queer religious, social, and cultural practices of the native Americans. They engaged in human sacrifices, sodomy, idolatry, and cannibalism. Priests and scholars saw these acts as ones against the ‘natural order’ and hence the need to be suppressed by any means possible. Through his writings, Sepúlveda argued that these practices should be uprooted by any means necessary even if it means engaging in war. He highlighted for main points as his justification for the colonization of the Americas even through oppressive means. First, he believed the natives were not in the right natural condition to rule themselves. Second, they saw it as a way to end cannibalism. Third, it was a way to end human practices. Fourth, colonization would allow them to convert the natives to Christianity.
However, there were those who were against colonization of the Americas. Bartolomé de las Casas was part of the Spanish invasion of South America. Initially, he was part of the team that ignored the atrocities committed against the indigenous people (Hanke). However, he went on to become of the greatest critics of crimes committed against the native American Indians and other indigenous people. After Christopher Columbus’s successful voyage to the New World, Bartolomé de las Casas set out on a voyage. He took up the role of a priest within the Spanish system which had enslaved the natives. However, the genocidal cruelty of the Spanish colonizers in 1514 led him to become a ‘Defender of the Indians’. He traveled back and forth between the New World and Spain to advocate for the rights of the natives. His grievances were aimed at the Holy Roman Emperor and King Charles V.
¬¬ The Valladolid debate was one of the platforms which Bartolomé de las Casas used to speak out against the colonization of the Americas, mistreatment of natives and slavery. He argued that despite the contrasting cultural, religious, social, and political differences between Europeans and natives, the latter were in order to practice their customs such as human sacrifices as they were free men to do so in their natural order.
While speaking out against the injustices of the Spanish System towards the indigenous people, Las Casas freed his slaves in order to set free his slaves in order to set the precedence for others to follow suit. Initially, he saw nothing wrong with the enslavement of Africans but later on changed his mind towards them and called for the abolition of slavery as a whole.
The Spanish conquest of the Americas (Affairs of the Indies) had a lot of impact towards the development of Spain and the Americas. Spain became the strongest European powerhouse in the 16th century as Gold and Silver from the conquered lands were sent to Europe. They also introduced the ‘encomienda system’ which they used to rule over the natives. However, the two places saw an exchange of technologies, customs, and ideas through the ‘Colombian Exchange’
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