Este foi o primeiro trabalho do curso, de um total de 6, que conclui sobre História Mundial desde 1300. Foram 4 meses de estudo, com aulas em língua inglesa e legendas. Descobri o curso através do site coursera.com, e as aulas foram ministradas pelo prof. Jeremy Adelman da Princeton University.
O tema foi oportuno pois gerou boas discussões sobre a escravidão dos povos indígenas e, especialmente os africanos. Por exemplo, descobri que a Civilização muçulmana foi a que praticou a escravidão por mais tempo e em maior escala. Outro assunto principal foi a conquista da América pelos povos europeus. Os ameríndios foram vítimas de doenças transmitidas pelos colonizadores que buscavam novas riquezas. É verdade que os Impérios Azteca e Inca tinham tribos subjugadas e oponentes. Estas tribos guiaram os conquistadores espanhóis. Com o passar do tempo, veremos que a riqueza da prata da América traria maldição para a Espanha, guiando a liderança dos mercados para a Holanda e Inglaterra.
The voyages of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama were among the most important events in world history since the slow invention of agriculture, thousands of years before. The Portuguese travel united two rich parts of the world and dynamics that were previously inaccessible by ship; trip Spanish brought together two worlds that had been uninhabited apart and unknown to each other.
Wheatcroft(1) notes that the Genoese Columbus presented his commission to sail west to discover the Indies as part of the divine mission that Ferdinand and Isabella were predestined to meet. He assured that in turn would bring such huge wealth “…in such quantities that within three years the rulers prepare themselves for the conquest of the Holy Land and will pursue. Already requested to Your Highnesses that provide for all the profits of my company are spent in the conquest of Jerusalem. “
One square kilometer planted with corn could food three times the number of people living wheat or rye grown in an area of similar size in Europe. The discovery of the potato was a significant event in the diet of Europeans. To be quite versatile, resistant to cold weather and nutritious. Many herbs also have originated among American Indians.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, sugar was a luxury item. The housewives hided on safe place her stock of sugar to prevent the servants had access to them. The Crusaders found at the Mediterranean islands like Cyprus, planting cane sugar with hand – slave labor, brought in eastern Africa. The Portuguese used African slaves for domestic service , so that in the century. XVI about 10 % of the population of Lisbon was visibly black.
Initially, the impact of the Spanish people, as well as their diseases on Native Americans was disastrous. Civilizations were shattered. The economic and cultural life largely disintegrated in the major cities, although it has survived for decades with little change in less populated areas. Millions of people died, while others simply changed the form of slavery of the Incas by subjection to the Spaniards. For the losers, perhaps the main console in the long run was Catholicism that came to dominate Latin America.
Maybe eight million Mexicans live in the time when Cortés arrived, half a century later; the population had reduced to less than a third. In the empire of the Incas, and further south, the number of deaths also came by the millions, and in some of the less populated regions may died eight out of every 10 inhabitants. Cortés would not have conquered Mexico without the aid of tlaxcaltecas who preferred the government of the white invaders to continue under the yoke of their rulers. The technology of the weapons used and the strategy of conquest of the illiterate Pizarro were fundamental in the clash of civilizations. Atualpa did not have enough knowledge to fear the recent Spanish conquests. The first report of Pizarro’s conquest was printed in Seville in April 1534, just nine months after the execution of Atualpa. Knowledge of the new land and its people through the press was another factor.
Epidemics brought another determining factor for the defeat of the Incas and the Aztecs. Cortés landed in 1519 on the coast of Mexico with 600 Spaniards to conquer the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Fled after the loss of two thirds of the troops. The following year, when he returned, smallpox killed nearly half of the Aztecs even the emperor. In 1618, Mexico’s population of nearly 20 million had dropped to about 1.6 million.
Hernando de Soto, the first European conqueror to cross the southeastern United States, in 1540, found in its march indigenous villages abandoned two years ago because the inhabitants had died in epidemics. These epidemics spread across the Indian coastline contaminated by the Spaniards who
visited the coast.
Jared Diamond(2) identifies the largest population change of modern times was the conquest of the New World by Europeans. As European demand for sugar increased, the slave trade expanded. From the time of Columbus until 1820, five times as many Africans as Europeans moved to the Americas: approximately 2 million Europeans (voluntarily) and 10 million Africans (involuntarily) crossed the Atlantic.
From 1500 to 1800, the mines of the Americas provided 70 % of the world production of gold and 85 % silver. In 1776, Adam Smith wrote that the discovery of abundant mines in America reduced, in the sixteenth century, the value of gold and silver to a third of what it was before. It is estimated that in this century, prices rose 400 % in Spain.
David Landes(3) said Spain was poor because he had too much money. Across Europe, the elegant and refined life was revered and despised manual labor left to the Muslim and Jewish minorities, but not as in Spain. After the era of large influx of gold and silver in the mid- seventeenth century, the Spanish Crown was deep in debt.
1. Andrew Wheatcroft, Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam
2. Jared Diamond, Guns, germs and steel
3. David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
Worlds together, worlds apart: a history of the world from the beginnings of humankind to the present / Robert Tignor … [et al.].