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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Essay on European Expansion

INSTRUCTIONS:  the topic is \"Some historians believe that when Spain and Portugal colonized the New World they did little to promote the spread of Renaissance ideas. Instead, these countries transplanted some of the ideas and attitudes of medieval Europe\". please try to support the idea  either agree or not with examples and explanations  Note: don\'t be worry to much about the number of sources.

Essay on European Expansion
            Also referred to as Age of Discovery, the expansion of Europe to the New World began during the early part of the 15th century up until the 17th century. This exploration was led by two of the most powerful nations at that period – Portugal and Spain. The Portuguese started their exploration in the Atlantic Coast of Africa as they sailed further into the east. The Spanish conquistadors on the other hand, took the route to inland America as well as explored the islands of the South Pacific (David 125). 

According to historians, the geographic exploration of these two European countries is a bridge between the Middle Ages and modern period. It was particularly a time when the Renaissance as a movement was beginning to take over the entirety of the continent, thus giving rise to the early modern era. However, historians similarly argue that although this took place at advent of Renaissance, both the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors did not promote the spread of this cultural movement. Rather, they utilized and fostered a medieval system in their new colonies. This was particularly evident in the manner by which these two empires run their colonies (Phillips 24).

The age of Renaissance was a time of cultural advancement dominated by intellectual pursuits and transformation. While the society during the Middle Ages was controlled by religion, people began to have a sense of self-awareness during the Renaissance. People in particular began to question religious practices such as in the case of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Hence, this was a time of turmoil for the Church. It is in this context, that Christian nations such as Spain and Portugal brought with them the concept of a religious medieval system in which the society is continuously controlled by both the Church and the monarchy. In fact, many historians point out that the Catholic Church inaugurated the exploration in an attempt to spread Christianity. As such the exploration of Spain and Portugal involves number of religious orders such as the Jesuits, Dominicans, Augustinians, and Franciscans. For example, when Portugal migrated to the New World, they required everyone to convert into the faith. Similarly, the Spanish also made an effort to convert American natives into Christianity (Harfield 35). 

Apart from spreading the faith, many scholars believe that the main goal of spreading religion in the new colonies was control. This means that the European colonizers seek to control the people through its religious beliefs and practices. This is primarily because religion can easily dictate an individual the concepts of right and wrong. This was consequently used as a tool by the colonizers to suppress any effort of revolution and uprising among the colonies. In addition to control, scholars suggest that using the religious medieval system also allowed the colonies to easily adapt and ultimately assimilate the culture of the colonizers. The spread of Christianity would mean the spread of believers therefore allowing assimilation of religious beliefs and practices to take place. The conversion and assimilation similarly extended into education as both Spanish and Portuguese colonizers employed a Catholic school system to educate the natives.

            In summary, the age of European expansion to the New World did not include the promotion of the Renaissance movement. This is primarily because the new movement calls for reforms and intellectual pursuit. Hence, the colonizers used the medieval system as it allowed them to propagate the spread of Christianity; and at the same time, it allowed them to control and assimilate the colonies in their culture.

Works Cited
Arnold, David. The Age of Discovery. NY: Routledge, 2002
Harfield, David. Renaissance. NY: Author House, 2010
Phillips, J. The medieval Expansion of Europe. London: Oxford University Press, 1998
William, Brian. The Age of Discovery. NY: Bedrick Books, 1994

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