Friday, June 7, 2013

Conquistador's Warriors for Gold, God and Glory


Conquistador's, the Spanish warriors of the three "G's"  "Gold, God and Glory."  Armed with the latest weapons and modern tactics (for the 16th century that is) infused with the task of both spreading the power of Spain and God's word, the Conquistadors were a true force to be reckoned with.  Sublimely confident in their strength and righteousness; they time and time again challenged enemies many times their own numbers while carving out the Spanish Empire in the New World and the far away Philippines. 

The three "G's" guaranteed ultimate success for true Conquistadors.  Their victories brought them fame and "Glory" throughout the European World (as well as envy); the conquered saw them quite differently.  In a time of religious intolerance, they were extremely intolerant of "false beliefs" as in name of "God"  they brought the words of the Catholic Faith to all they conquered (all that survived the conquest that is).  Those Conquistador's that died believed they would be welcomed in Heaven for doing God's work (much like the Crusader and Jihadist of early centuries).  Victories over cultures rich in material wealth (especially gold and silver) and land brought them untold wealth.  "Gold" was their preferred form of payment but silver, jewels, land and slaves all enriched victorious Conquistador's.  Many a Conquistador gained wealth worth millions of dollars in Modern value,  and just as fast wasted in a wild lavish life style.

For the better part of the 1500's the Conquistador's carved out the World's most wide ranging Empire on five continents (Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia) parts of which last until the 20th century.  Untold hundreds of billions of dollars worth of wealth flowed into the coffers of the Spanish Empire and the economy of Europe for centuries from these conquests. Whole cultures were destroyed and the political as well as religious face of the planet changed for ever by the Conquistador's, all in the name of "Gold, God and Glory."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New World-Old World Style Cities

With the discovery of the "New World," Europeans embarked on a path of exploration, conquest, settlement and exploitation of these new lands.  One of the major changes they brought to the New World was the European design of cities.  These designs were in direct conflict with the cities of the advanced  cultures of the Inca and those of what would become Mexico (the Aztecs and their enemies).  It was only natural, for the time period, for the conquerors to assume that their's being the "superior culture" their style of cities would therefore also be superior.  This ethnocentrism coupled with the deadly diseases brought from the Old World doomed the advanced native city cultures so much that by the end of the 16th century virtually all the cities in the New World were mirrors of the European but with a local flavor.
El Morro, the massive Spanish fortification protecting the harbor and town of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Oldest European fortifications in the territory of the USA.

Here are some of the more important of the early European cities of the New World:
San Juan, Puerto Rico, founded by the Spanish in 1509 to assist commerce and project military power into the Southeastern Caribbean.  Originally the island was called San Juan and the town was called Puerto Rico (Rich Port).
Havana de Cuba, founded by the Spanish in 1514.  The major seaport of the Spanish colonies in the New World, from 1566 to 1790, the annual Treasure Fleets set off for Spain from here.
Gold the life blood of the annual Treasure Fleets from Havana to Spain.  Along with silver, jewels, jewelry, and the other vast resources of the New World Spanish Empire made the seaport so critical to Spain.

La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (Rich Village of the True Cross), founded by the Spanish in 1519
Established by Cortez at the start of his conquest of Mexico, first city on the continent to have a city council.
Mexico City (former Tenochititlan), founded by the Spanish in 1521.  After leveling one of the most beautiful cities in the World, Cortez and the Spanish built their new city in the image of those of the Old World. Was the most populous city in Pre-Columbian America and is now, with 19.6 million people, one the most populous urban areas in the World .
Mexico City in the 17th Century.

San (Saint today) Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish in 1565.  Built to solidify Spanish claims to the Southeast of North America and to protect the sea route of the yearly Treasure Fleet. Many bitter battle and raids by both the French and English lead to the construction of Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest stone fort in North America.
Replica of the Susan Constant which with the Discovery and Godspeed brought the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607.

Jamestown, Virginia, founded by the English in 1607.  The first successful English settlement in the USA, establishes an English presence that will grow into the thirteen colonies. "The colony built on smoke," they came looking for gold and silver but became rich on tobacco.
Map of Quebec circa 1640

Quebec City, Canada, founded by the French in 1608.  Established for the fur trade, quickly transformed into the center of French culture in Canada.  The key to "New France," for two centuries the country that ruled Quebec owned Canada.
Flag of New France incorporating the Royal Coat of Arms of the Bourbon family.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded by the Spanish in 1608.  Oldest territorial capital in the USA and only capital ever captured by the American Indians (1680-1692).
The Church of San Miguel, Santa Fe built circa 1610 and holds a claim to be the oldest church in the USA.

Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, founded by the English 1620.  Settled by the Pilgrims searching for religious freedom that after economic became a major cause for future colonial settlements. The settlement, through mistake or design, was built outside the area of Virginia territory of their contract. This allowed the colonist to make a new covenant-the Mayflower Compact creating a government in the New World based on equal rights to all signers. A strong precedent for future generations of Americans.  The signing of the Mayflower Compact is the root establishment of the rights of self government in the New World.
Bas-relief of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.

New Amsterdam (New York 1664), New Netherlands (New York 1664), founded by the Dutch with a City Charter granted 1624.  An attempt by the Dutch to tap into the natural resources of North America, its conquest by the English changed the economic entire face of the British colonies. The English conquest lead to renaming the city in honor of the kings brother, James the Duke of York (future King James II).
Early map of New Amsterdam.