HIST 128
Conquistadors in the New World Spring 2010
Division II Writing Skills
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The Spanish conquest of the Americas happened with astonishing rapidity. Christopher Columbus entered the Caribbean in 1492; Hernando Cortes completed the conquest of the Aztecs of central Mexico in 1521; Francisco Pizarro triumphantly entered the Inca capital Cuzco, in Peru, in 1545. Other conquistadors pushed north to the Carolinas and California, south to the Tierra del Fuego and the River Plate, and across the Amazonian basin to the Atlantic. We came, wrote the conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, to serve God, and our King, and to get rich. Their deeds were legendary, their courage, daring, and endurance remarkable. They were also notoriously quarrelsome, greedy, and cruel. Before their onslaught the major civilizations of the new world crumbled–destroyed or changed beyond recognition. Rarely in history have so few conquered so many so quickly. The conquest of the New World has both excited and appalled the human imagination for more than five centuries. Many questions about the event remain to be answered or are still capable of provoking controversy, questions that will be addressed in this tutorial: Who exactly were the conquistadors? What motivated them? How did their self-perpetuating conquistador system originate and operate? What meaning did they themselves assign to their actions? How could they justify their many, misdeeds? How did they develop their sense of the Other? Why did often inspired resistance by indigenous peoples and regimes ultimately fail? Was conquest somehow preordained? Could it have failed? What mixture of human agency, culture, technology, religion, nature, and biology can best explain the results of this encounter between the conquistador and Amerindian worlds?
The Class: Format: tutorial; weekly one-hour sessions with a student tutorial partner and the instructor, one presenting a paper, the other offering a critique
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 3081
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: a paper or critique every week
Prerequisites: first-year or sophomore standing
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and to second-semester first-year students who have not already taken a 100-level seminar
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
HIST Group D Electives - Latin America + Caribbean
HIST Group G Electives - Global History

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