Becoming Modern: Spanish and Portuguese Expansion and the Conquest of the Americas (Episode #33)

We trace how Portugal and Spain, two previously marginal European kingdoms, rapidly and unexpectedly exploded onto the world scene, building a chain of fortified colonies stretching from North Africa to China, and conquering the larger and richer empires of Mexico and Peru. The early Iberian colonizers sought to continue the tradition of the Crusades and the Reconquista, and saw their foreign conquests as steps towards retaking Jerusalem; the benefited not only from superior weaponry and navigation, but from cataclysmic disease epidemics that brought the Pre-Columbian empires to their knees. Suggested further reading: Russell: “Prince Henry ‘The Navigator’: A Life”; Restall, “Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest”; Brading, “The First America.”

Related content: 8 episodes On the History of Christianity

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