• Worlds Transformed

    Worlds Transformed

  • 1

ADA Text Version

Spain, whose monarchs financed Columbus's voyage, proceeded to take the lead among European nations seeking to capitalize on their "discoveries." Spanish explorers traversed much of the Americas, including areas that eventually became part of the south and southwestern United States.

Conquest of the Americas

The Spanish conquest of vast regions of the Americas and the Indian peoples living there had far-reaching effects. Columbus's voyage, for example, touched off European explorations that prompted a redrawing of world maps. The conquest also raised the question of what happens when two civilizations that never knew the other existed meet, as seen in the clash between the Spanish and Aztecs in Mexico.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • What were the motivations behind Spanish conquests in the Americas?
  • How did the Spaniards justify conquering the Indians? Were alternatives to brutal conquest possible?
  • Why was Cortés's entry into Tenochtitlán a unique moment in history?
  • How and why was Cortés able to conquer Mexico?
  • What areas of America did de Soto, Coronado, and Cabrillo explore? What were the effects of their explorations?

Download the transcript of Conquest of the Americas.


The Compassionate Conquistador

The story of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca's experience in America differs from most Spanish conquistadors. Cabeza de Vaca, known as "The Compassionate Conquistador," traveled throughout the southwestern area of what is now the United States nearly 500 years ago. Trading was one activity that helped Cabeza de Vaca and his followers survive in a foreign culture.

"So, trading along with my wares I penetrated inland as far as I cared to go and along the coast as much as forty or fifty leagues....This trade suited me well because it gave me liberty to go wherever I pleased; I was not bound to do anything and (was) no longer a slave. Wherever I went they treated me well, and gave me (food) to eat for the sake of my wares."Collage of Spanish explorers and New World landscapes.

  • What does this excerpt from Cabeza de Vaca's journal tell you about his experience in America?
  • Why are primary sources, such as this journal, important to the study of history?


New Spain

New Spain analyzes the economic, political, and social effects of Spanish colonization in the New World and also examines the influence of Spanish missionaries.

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • What were the economic, political, and social characteristics of Spain's empire in the New World in the sixteenth century?
  • What roles did religious missionaries play in New Spain?
  • Why did the Spanish found a settlement at St. Augustine?
  • Why did the Spanish settle in the area that became New Mexico? What led to the Acoma rebellion and how was it suppressed?
  • Why was Santa Fe founded in 1608?

Download the transcript of New Spain.