Posted on February 23, by Scott Alexander [Content warning: Discussion of social justice, discussion of violence, spoilers for Jacqueline Carey books. This post was inspired by a debate with a friend of a friend on Facebook who has since become somewhat famous.
When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts.
He later wrote of this in his log: They willingly traded everything they owned They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance.
They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane They would make fine servants With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable European observers were to say again and again for their hospitality, their belief in sharing.
These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.
As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.
The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? He had persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance an expedition to the lands, the wealth, he expected would be on the other side of the Atlantic-the Indies and Asia, gold and spices.
For, like other informed people of his time, he knew the world was round and he could sail west in order to get to the Far East. Spain was recently unified, one of the new modern nation-states, like France, England, and Portugal.
Its population, mostly poor peasants, worked for the nobility, who were 2 percent of the population and owned 95 percent of the land.
Spain had tied itself to the Catholic Church, expelled all the Jews, driven out the Moors. Like other states of the modern world, Spain sought gold, which was becoming the new mark of wealth, more useful than land because it could buy anything. There was gold in Asia, it was thought, and certainly silks and spices, for Marco Polo and others had brought back marvelous things from their overland expeditions centuries before.
Now that the Turks had conquered Constantinople and the eastern Mediterranean, and controlled the land routes to Asia, a sea route was needed.
Portuguese sailors were working their way around the southern tip of Africa. Spain decided to gamble on a long sail across an unknown ocean. In return for bringing back gold and spices, they promised Columbus 10 percent of the profits, governorship over new-found lands, and the fame that would go with a new title: Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
He set out with three sailing ships, the largest of which was the Santa Maria, perhaps feet long, and thirty-nine crew members.Sep 12, · Behind the headlines - conspiracies, cover-ups, ancient mysteries and more.
Real news and perspectives that you won't find in the mainstream media. attheheels.com: History of Western Civilization: A Handbook (): William H. McNeill: Books. Feb 17, · (2) Ancient Greece is called “the birthplace of Western Civilization,” many western ideas on philosophy, government and art are from Greek civilization.
The Greeks were fearless warriors, their culture and society were civilized, and they perfected trade. History of Western Civilization Essay The History of Western Civilization has proven to be one of the most imperative demonstrations of leadership, power, women, morality and immorality discussed in the many primary sources read throughout this semester.
The 18th Century proudly referred to itself as the "Age of Enlightenment" and rightfully so, for Europe had dwelled in the dim glow of the Middle Ages when suddenly the lights began to come on in men's minds and humankind moved forward. Marvin Perry, now retired, taught history at Baruch College, City University of New York.
He has published several successful Cengage Learning texts, including WESTERN CIVILIZATION: IDEAS, POLITICS, AND SOCIETY (senior author and general editor); WESTERN CIVILIZATION: A BRIEF HISTORY; the leading Western Civilization reader, SOURCES OF THE WESTERN TRADITION; AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY .