Primary Analysis #1
For a clear investigation of history, one always needs to refer to primary sources, which are the precise reflection of the contemporaries views. This research is aimed at revealing the details of a cultural confrontation which took place during the European colonization of the Atlantic World, including interactions between the native inhabitants of America and Africa. For a better understanding of the real situation, one should examine this issue from an either European point of view or an African and Indian point. Spain started the colonization of America without realizing it was actually a new continent, since Columbus thought he had found a new way to the Indies. Christopher Columbus made several trips to the Indies. Columbus described each of his four trips in his letters to the King and Queen of Spain.
The first thing Columbus mentioned about the people he encountered on the continent was that they are countless, and all may be laid under tribute.1 The new land meant new possibilities and new resources for Europeans. During the second trip, Columbus lost his people in a fight with Indians in Haiti. Nevertheless, in his third letter, Christopher Columbus depicts Indians as handsome, well-proportioned and hospitable, although effective communication proved to be difficult. Thus, Columbuss letter reveals that the main problem was a language barrier between the Spaniards and Indians. This barrier often led to drastic misunderstanding between the nations. His letter contains information of his visit to an Indian village where he was friendly met by a tribal chief. In addition, Columbus had one more purpose in the new continent. He strived to convert local inhabitants to Christianity and save many souls. However, the Spaniards did not forget their real task. After discovering gold and other mineral resources, the following encounters between Europeans and Amerindians were not so friendly. Instead of small expeditions, Spain sent military ships with armed conquistadors. Spain started colonial expansion of America, destroying the whole civilizations.
One of the most known events of Conquista is the expansion of Mexico and destruction of the Aztec empire. The role of the Spanish in the New World was not only to consume the rich resources found there, but also to Christianize the population of the seized territories. For that reason, the Indian culture was almost completely eliminated. The Aztecs were known for their illustrated codices, which were the most primary sources for their culture. Unfortunately, almost all of these codices did not preserve their original appearance. Conquistadors burnt those codices, which they considered to be pagan and censored those which were printed during the expansion. In Codex Azcatitlan, one may see the Spanish march in 1519. Obediently inclined heads of Aztec warriors clearly illustrate the utter fiasco. One may notice a black Spanish soldier there as well. The similar images may be found in other codices, such as the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, where the battles between the Aztecs and Spaniards are depicted. Most of them have the same end, where the Aztecs bows and arrows cannot compete with the Spanish metal swords and Aztec warriors die. Conquistadors acted aggressively but there were other reasons besides technologies why the Europeans succeeded. Although, at first, Indians felt good in occupation, and even thought that the Spanish were angels from heaven.
Las Casas provides the following depiction of Amerindians, And of all the infinite universe of humanity, these people are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity. Indian behavior and lifestyle seemed to be striking to him; he was astonished by the absence of beds and, partially, clothes. Nevertheless, even such meek people as Indians broke down when the Spaniards began to kill and terrorize them, sparing neither children nor pregnant women. Las Casas also gives examples of tortures on Indians. Finally, Indians rose up, but it was already too late. He also states that, they not only possess little but have no desire to possess worldly goods. This feature differed Indians from Europeans who landed America just for profit.
Europeans started the colonization of Africa rather late. Mostly, it depended on Arab colonization. While the Spaniards tried to explore the shipping lane to India, the Portuguese had been already colonizing Africa in full swing. In opposition to the Spanish colonization, the Portuguese were hostile towards Africans from the very beginning. The Portuguese were probably the first Europeans who started to explore and colonize Africa, building outposts and trading slaves. Moreover, the Portuguese colonization and enslavement was authorized by Pope Nicholas V. Nzinga Mbemba, who was the king of Congo, reports to the King of Portugal about violations acted by the Portuguese. The King of Congo was unsatisfied that white people kidnapped and sold his subjects and were richer then the native inhabitants. His country lacked medicine and physicians during that time while his people were dying. However, it is clear that his land would become a main supplier of slaves to Europe and America.
However, Africans also sold their own relatives. Bosman states that, Not a few in our Country fondly imagine that Parents here sell their Children, Men their Wives, and one Brother the other. Two hundred years later slave trade became an industry and thousands of Africans were shipped to European countries and America. Bosman describes the procedure of trading, slaves transportation and their treatment. Invalids were usually thrown out but women were treated better than men. Anyway, Bosman himself admits that such trade may seem barbarous.
The similar situation was also described by a man who had been a slave himself. Oladuah Equiano experienced astonishment and then terror during his stay on a ship with slaves. He also tells that he was brought there by native Africans who received payment for this. However, most of all enslaved people were frightened to be eaten. According to his biography, slave traders treated them as goods but tried not to spoil them.
In the course of history, these cultures were completely different; although, due to certain interactions, Europeans, Africans and Indians borrowed a lot from each other. However, the European culture formally excluded the culture of native people; it also helped to form a quite new culture which changed the lifestyle and traditions of the occupied nations.