Did the Africans or the Native Americans suffer the most from European invasions during 1450 to 1550? All conquered peoples suffer on a family and individual level especially if they are not part of the ruling class. But in terms of decimation of whole populations due to invasions by foreigners the Amerindians suffered more than the Africans.
The impact on the African people of the new trading partners depended mainly on the balance between three factors, the leadership of the African states, the strategies of those leaders and the Portuguese policies (Bulliet et al. 433).During the 15th and first half of the 16th century the small country of Portugal was able to greatly expand trading with Western Africa due to the interest of merchants such as those along the Gold Coast who were eager for easier and cheaper ways to move gold (Bulliet et al. 431). (Bulliet et al. 431, 433).
In Central Africa on the Nzere River, which the Protugese ship captain, Diogo Cao named Zaire, a cooperative trading partnership was established between the rulers and the trade ships starting in 1483 (Bulliet et al. 286). Soon though when the local king and his
people could not meet the demand for slaves that Portugal wanted they started raiding neighboring kingdoms; pitching African neighbors into battles with each other (Bullit et al. 286). (Easterly 286). (Bulliet et al. 433).
The foreign policy of conquer and divide was not the main reason Spain established such a large empire during this time. Amerindians were also drawn into battles with neighboring tribes and kingdoms. The Spanish took advantage of picking sides in Civil Wars that were being fought and developed ties with native allies (Bulliet et al. 438). People conquered by the Aztecs were ready to ally with the Conquistadors. The translator for Hernán Cortéz, Malintzin, was also his mistress and she shared military intelligence with him (Bulliet et al. 438). (Bulliet et al. 438).
Glimpses of international cooperation were not going to make a difference in the successful colonization of North America. Malcomson has written that in North America many of the poor Europeans who came to the shores were perfectly happy to live and work cooperatively with the natives (28). He gives as an example the “disappeared” colony of Roanoke. The great mystery he suggests is no mystery at all only that the Europeans of the colony integrated with the natives (Malcomson 28). (Malcomson 28).
What then did allow the massive colonization of the Spanish in the Americas? It was the weakening and decimation of the populations by diseases new to the continents that allowed for the success of the imperialist ambitions of Spain and Portugal to flourish so successfully (Bulliet et al. 438). (Bulliet et al. 438).
In the 15th and early 16th century the Africans and the Americans had very different experiences with traders and conquerors from Europe. The Amerindians paid dearly due to their inability of their immune system to fight the diseases brought to the “New World” by the foreigners.
Bulliet, Richard, Pamela Crossley, Daniel Headrick and Steven Hirsch. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Brief Edition. Vol. II: Since 1500. 4th Edtion.Wadsworth Publishing. Belmont. 2008. Print.
Easterly, William. The White Man’s Burden. Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done so much Ill and so Little Good. The Penguin Press. NYC. 2006. Print.
Malcomson, Scott L. One Drop of Blood: The American Misadventure of Race. Rarrar Straus Giroux. NY. 2000. Print.
Russell, Tony, Allen Brizee, and Elizabeth Angeli. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL. Purdue U. 2008. Print.