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Tenochtitlan - the Capital of the Aztec Empire

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Tenochtitlan – The capital of the Aztec empire (located in present-day Mexico). The first European explorer to set foot on the land was Hernando Cortes. It contained massive buildings, and it was known for its temples, along with it being a center of power and wealth. Aztec – The Aztec empire was massive and powerful. The Aztecs themselves were violent and used force to isolate themselves from the neighboring groups of people. They were barbaric and constantly captured others to perform ritual sacrifices.

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The empire was ultimately destroyed when Cortes attempted to conquer it; he used the aid of warriors and disease. Great League of Peace – In southeast North America, five tribes (the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, and Seneca) formed a powerful alliance, bringing peace and stability to the area. They sent representatives each year in order to manage outside relations. This was the most successful of the alliances between tribes, as most of them were incredibly loose. Reconquista – King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain succeeded at “taking back” the land in Spain occupied by the Moors (African Muslims). They were able to use the power from their marriage to do so, as two conflicting nations were united. They attempted to remove or convert everyone of all religions other than catholicism, despite the fact that many of these groups had lived there for centuries.

Conquistadores – Spanish explorers who went to the new world to search for wealth and glory. They sought to spread Catholicism to as many civilizations as possible, which would eventually result in an increase in Spain’s influence. They were the first European explorers to create colonies in the Americas. Columbian Exchange – The exchange of plants, animals, diseases and cultures between Europe and the Americas. It brought a greater variety of agriculture and livestock to the world, but diseases from Europe devastated the populations of the people in America. The new types of agriculture led to great advancements and new dependencies in Europe.

Creoles – The creoles were people of European descent who were born in the colonies; however, they were not given that much representation. People appointed to the colonies directly from Spain were preferred. The people who migrated were the only ones listened to as representatives. Hacienda – Haciendas were massive farms that European landlords controlled. They forced thousands of natives to work the land, taking on the bulk of the work, and although the Europeans introduced new crops, the old ones remained as the primary type of agriculture. The only difference this had from how the area was before it was colonized was that the labour was not voluntary, rather everything was monitored by Spaniards. Mestizos – Spanish America was primarily populated by the mestizos, people with mixed origins. More often than not, they had both Spanish and Native American blood. This created a type of mixed culture, as there were few Indians and Spaniards remaining after a while.

Ninety-Five Theses – Martin Luther wrote this list of complaints against the Catholic church, accusing it of different types of corruption, such as pluralism and the sale of indulgences. This ultimately resulted in the creation of Lutheranism, which had different interpretations of what religion should be. This began the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Bartolome de Las Casas – A Dominican priest who published his account of the destruction of the Native American populations. Contrary to popular belief, he thought of them as rational people that the Spanish treated incredibly poorly. He released his slaves, claiming that no one had the right to take away their liberty or property.

Black Legend – Inspired by Las Casas, the Black Legend was the idea that Spain’s rule was cruel and brutal. It served as a form of reasoning for the other European powers to challenge Spain’s rule in the New World. The other nations thought of Spain as inferior, leading them to work to treat the natives more humanely than the Spanish did. Pueblo Revolt – The natives of New Mexico grouped together to start an uprising against their Spanish conquerors. They were able to drive all of the Spaniards out of the area, making this the most successful Native American revolt in history. They destroyed all symbols of Europe, returning the area to a state of pure native culture. Despite the success, war continued to break out within the groups.

Indentured servants – The servants were similar to slaves, as they experienced forced labour. They had a contract determining how long they were forced to work. Once these contracts expired, they were completely free, and most decided to return home afterwards. Metis – The metis were a group of people with French and Indian parents. They served as interpreters, guides, and traders, representing the combination of the two cultures. They were similar to the Spanish mestizos in this aspect. Borderland – These areas served as boundaries between forming nations and colonies, acting as a neutral area. Though they stood between territories, the borders often shifted, leading to many conflicts between powers. It was highly unstable, and while the Europeans gained power, the natives suffered.

Essential Questions The “discovery” of America was incredibly important for society, particularly in Europe. Crops were able to be imported through the Columbian Exchange, providing new, nutritional food supplies in both the Americas and Europe. Though it was devastating for the native populations, it marked a major milestone in the development of new, organized nations. The cultures of the natives and the colonists began to merge together, creating something new and unique. The colonies provided wealth to European nations such as Spain, allowing for new technological advancements and prosperity. Eventually, it sparked competitions between European countries, driving them to work even harder to improve.

During the European age of expansion, the economy shifted as other continents began to trade with Europe. European nations traded with the Americas, with each side gaining new products and raw materials. This marked a major change, as transatlantic trade did not exist prior to colonization. Similarly, the slave trade became more prominent due to the introduction of large-scale farms in the colonies. The Europeans took slaves and indentured servants from Africa and the tribes in the Americas. This trade allowed the cultivation of plants and the manufacturing of products to increase greatly. The Indian societies were incredibly diverse and unique from each other. Many of the tribes kept themselves mostly isolated, so they developed independently of each other. For example, the Aztecs were the most brutal and violent of the Indians; unlike most other tribes, they were known for their ritual sacrifices. The Aztecs structured their towns around a temple with complex systems throughout the city. This varies greatly from the Indians in Pueblo Bonita, who used circular areas for worship spread throughout the town and rectangular areas for their homes.

Other tribes like the Catawba simply had designated areas for each part of their society without strict boundaries. The Indians centered their religion around spiritual presence existing in everything, rather than just in a single god, while Catholicism was the primary religion in Europe. The Indians’ beliefs about the ownership of land were even more distinct from Europeans’ ideas; in this aspect, they were nearly opposite. The Indians did not believe in anyone “owning” land; it was purely communal. On the other hand, the Europeans sectioned off land that anyone could buy and own. Also, the natives treated men and women similarly, giving them different jobs but mostly equal rights; the Europeans treated women as inferior to men, giving men more control. Finally, Indians believed that all people are free to do what they want, but the Europeans thought that people were only free under the law.

The age of exploration was fueled by the ideas of gaining wealth, glory, and spreading Catholicism. Explorers sought to become well known and increase their countries’ status. The fierce competition between nations, drove many rulers to fund explorations to the New World. They thought that they could use the colonies for gaining valuable resources, and they were particularly eager to find gold. Finally, they wanted to spread their religion as much as possible to teach people the values and reasoning of Catholicism. Spain was very successful during the age of expansion. The leaders had united their kingdom and completed the reconquista, and were able to gain new territory and wealth, putting them ahead of the other European nations. Portugal was quick to follow, as they were able to conquer territory in South America using new developments in navigation technology, such as the caravel to travel and gain status. They established plantations, providing a major source of income, boosting the economy. The Netherlands utilized the Dutch East India Company to fund their explorations. It became increasingly wealthy and had the most successful trading company of the time.

Finally, France created the colony of Canada and governed it through New France, their economy depending on the fur trade. France was motivated to explore by the desire to locate gold and a Northwest Passage that would connect the two major oceans. They then attempted to create colonies in North America, succeeding after multiple attempts; the new territories provided land that France could use indentured servants to work on, making them more wealthy and powerful. Similar to the French, the Dutch sought to find a Northwest Passage to Asia, willing to establish posts in order to trade with the Native Americans. Both of these nations used exploration as a way of achieving wealth and power, but unlike New Spain, religion did not play as large of a role. Spain wanted the same things as the other two, but it also attempted to spread Catholicism. Spanish conquerors claimed that they had religious authority to take land from the Native Americans.

The other European nations believed that the natives did not truly make use of the land. The natives were viewed as people who never stayed in one place to make real settlements. Many thought of the men and women as weak, claiming that the Indians would be liberated by their enslavement. They clearly did not think of themselves as people who took away freedom; they believed they provided it.

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