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Spain’s Empire in the Americas

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Spain’s Empire in the Americas. Chapter 2 Section 1. Objective:. Students will be able to describe the early interactions between Spanish explorers / Conquistadors and Native Americans.

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  • Students will be able to describe the early interactions between Spanish explorers / Conquistadors and Native Americans.
Spanish explorers sailed to the Americas after Columbus’s expeditions. These explorers were known as conquistadors, orconquerors. They came to the Americas in search of gold and silver.
In 1518 Governor Diego Velazquez put Cortesin charge of an expedition that was to explore the Yucatan peninsula.
In Tobasco, the natives gave him a female interpreter who spoke a couple of the languages, Malintzin, as a peace offering. She became an advisor to Cortés and had a child with him.
At first, the Aztec emperor, Montezuma II, refused to meet with Cortes.
  • In the decade before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, Aztec Emperor Montezuma II and his people were filled with a sense of foreboding.
  • A series of evil omens had foretold of calamities to come.
Montezuma sent a messenger out to meet with Cortes. Cortes showed the messenger his cavalry in full charge, their ferocious dogs, and cannons.
Montezuma began to fear that Cortes was the exiled god, Quetzalcoatl, coming back for revenge.
In November 1519, Montezuma allowed the Spaniards to enter Tenochtitlan. As Cortes and his men marched into the city, the people came out to watch. Many of them were terrified.
Cortes gave Montezuma a necklace with pearls and cut glass.
  • Montezuma showered them with gifts and gave the Spanish luxurious apartments.
The people also began to resent the Spanish for attacking their religion and their demands for gold.
Cortes began to have the idols destroyed. He also put Christian images on their great Pyramid. At this point the Aztecs had begun a resistance movement.
Once Cortes took control of the Aztec Empire, he began making plans for the colony of New Spain, whose capital he called Mexico City.

The Spanish lived among the people they conquered. Spanish men married native women. Their children and descendants were called mestizopeople with mixed Spanish and Native American blood.


The Spanish also formed large farms and mines that used natives as slave labor. This system was known as encomienda.


About 15 years later, Francisco Pizarro led another Spanish force, It conquered the mighty Inca Empire of South America. Once again, the Spanish found gold and silver.


By the mid-1500s, Spain had formed an American empire that stretched from modem-day Mexico to Peru. After 1540, the Spanish looked north of Mexico and explored the future United States.


Inspired by rumors of seven cities of gold, Francisco Vázquez de Coronadoled an expedition of about 300 Spanish soldiers, over 1,000 Tlaxcalan Indians, and enormous herds of livestock north into what is now the American West.


Catholic priests went along. Spanish priests began to make some protests, however. One thing they criticized was the encomienda system. A monk named Bartolome de Las Casas and others successfully called for the end of the system.