Sunday, 27 February 2011

'Irredeemably corrupt'?

There have been several review of Hugh Thomas' The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V. This one in the Telegraph picks up some of the points we have discussed in class.  This quotation sums up much of the reviewer's argument:

'As Thomas makes clear, conquest opened up divisions within Charles’s empire. Men such as Cortés and Pizarro were good at winning empires; they could not be trusted to administer them.
Charles’s officials and churchmen had visions of an empire run on Christian ideals, but new rules governing relations with native peoples were fiercely resisted by those who relied on harshness and slavery.
When humane principles collided with the demand for cash, colonisers were often left to do things their own cruel way. Golden ages are never what they promise and this one, for all its romance, was irredeemably corrupt.'

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Spain, France, the Netherlands and England

This post is especially indebted to H. G. Koenigsberger, George L. Mosse and G. Q. Bowler, Europe in the Sixteenth Century (Longman, 1989) and to Richard Mackenney, Sixteenth-Century Europe: Expansion and Conflict (Macmillan, 1993).

In 1559 Europe seemed to be entering a period of peace as Henri II of France and Philip II of Spain signed the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis. The peace was sealed by the dynastic marriage of Philip to Elisabeth of Valois. France kept Calais, which she had conquered from England in 1558, and her conquests of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Philip was therefore forced to acknowledge the diminution of the empire of Charles V, but he retained Sicily, Naples, Milan, Franche-Comté and the Netherlands.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The English and the New World

The New World voyages were both cause and consequence of the worsening relations between England and Spain.

England’s claim to territory in the New World was old before it was exploited. In 1497 Henry VII had sponsored John Cabot’s voyage and discovery of Newfoundland. The Grand Banks had been known to fishermen earlier, but Cabot’s enthusiastic reports opened the way for international rivalries over the region; early in the 16th century English, French, Basque, and Portuguese fishermen were contesting for catches. [It was probably Basque fishermen who named Cape Breton Island.] In 1536 Richard Hore sailed from Gravesend to Labrador, but was driven off by natives.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The debate on the Indians

See here and here for more information.

From the time Columbus landed in Hispaniola in 1492 the Spaniards had been divided about how they should regard the Indians and how should they treat them. Were they rational beings capable of coercion to Christianity? Were they the lawful owners of their property? Or were they inferior creatures, savages who could legitimately be subjugated? in regards to the rationality and Christianization of the Indians.