Arguably, the conquest of the New World brought a lot of changes in the history of Latin America and the entire globe. In fact, it became a gateway of land conquest, exploration and colonization. In the year 1492, Columbus explored across and made one of the greatest discoveries in the world, the New World. The term Conquistador entails Portuguese and Spanish warriors and adventurers who led the conquest and the expeditions of the New World in the exploration age. These conquistadors conquered and invaded Latin America as well as the Caribbean from the 15th century to the 17th century. For clarification, conquests of Latin America can be taken to be colonizers who acted in the Portuguese and Spanish Empire. Overseas voyages and expeditions were sponsored typically by members of the nobility and the monarchy. In addition, the conquistadors of Latin America involved Catholicism who had an intention of converting natives in Latin America. Up to date, conquistadors are still remembered for their influence on the natives in Latin America. As professional soldiers, the Conquistadors utilized weaponry, cavalry, and technology against the native population in Latin America (Cook 7). In general perspective, the conquistadors had various motivations that made them colonize Latin America. In the long run, the conquistadors had a lot of impact on the Latin America political, religious, and social structure.
There are various motivations behind the conquest and expansion of Latin America. One of the motivators was religion: this is because the conquistadors justified their colonization by religion. Therefore, religion motivated the colonization and it easily convinced the natives in Latin America. To many people religion seemed to be harmless and helpful; hence, colonization could easily be achieved. Many Europeans asserted liberation of their land as a conquest and a extension of the medieval crusades (Cothran 15). In this perspective, Catholic soldiers had tremendously fought to bring back the supremacy of Holy catholic. The Portuguese and Spanish conquerors were motivated by religion since they viewed that there mission is to spread Christianity. The catholic priests travelled in the voyages with the conquistadors.
Undeniably, the conquistadors viewed the people of Latin America as barbaric. Therefore they were motivated by the urge to convert the natives. The conquistadors believed that the natives in Latin America were a savage that needs some conversion. In the real sense, it was clear that the natives were living their life since there was no clear cut definition of being barbaric or savages. Another great motivator was economic issues; the conquistadors had the intention of exploring Latin America economically and strengthening their economic issue back in their home country (Natella 31). Dominating territories in the New World would lead to expansion of the Spanish empire. Moreover, another motivator was the urge to gain power, prestige, and influence over other European community.
The conquistadors had seen various economic opportunities; hence, their main intention was to utilize the existing resources in the new world to establish their economic stability. In addition, the conquistadors need raw material to use them in their countries. The raw materials include spices, metals and unique foods (Cothran 27). Basically, another motivating factor was political freedom and stability. Political freedom comes in various issues, whereby the conquistadors wanted to dominate various nations in Latin America in order to strengthen and widen their political empires. In the past, empires could receive a lot of respect on their strategies and ways of conquering nations.
In every nation, issues of land are very important. The conquistadors were motivated by the urge to acquire land for farming. The achievement of land would help them in food production, which was needed in their homeland. Moreover, the conquistadors of Latin America were motivated by the advocate to explore (Castro 28). For example, the discovery of the new world was because of exploration. The conquistadors wanted to explore and learn more about the Latin America. In general perspective, the conquistadors were motivated by various factors that accounted to economic, social and explorative (López 12). These motivators include empire’s glory, adventure, wealth, land, sources of trade and goods, Christianity, as well as a political opportunity.
The conquistadors of Latin America had a lot of impact. The colonization of Latin America affected religious, political and social structure. Certainly, the social impacts were tremendous since it affected the life of the people completely. As the number of voyages increased, the number of conquistadors also increased leading to exchange of cultural activities and sacrifices. A collision of various cultures erupted among the conquistadors and the natives of Latin America. In the year 1519, the Spanish army arrived at the Latin America Shores in a country that is currently known as Mexico (Natella 45). The conquistadors made the Aztec people who had nothing to do with religion. They practiced human sacrifice, ritualistic tortures, as well as cannibalism. As a matter of fact, the coming of colonialist brought in religion and other cultural practices that affected the social structure of the natives.
In the political arena, the colonialists influenced the native political structure. Perhaps, the colonized had string weapons that made them dominated over the exiting political powers in Latin America. One of the motivators of the conquistadors was to attain and spread their empires; In this case, they overpowered the native political systems and introduced their way of ruling (Memmi 28). In addition, the conquistadors influenced political structure by introducing horses, firearms and metal weaponry. In the long run, the conquistadors influenced the political structure by establishing enormous empires. In the political perspective, the conquistadors conquered the natives and made them treasure the slave labor (Meltzer 45). Basically, the conquistadors managed to rule politically because the natives died of fatigue, malnutrition, and diseases. Another impact that is currently witnessing today was the trend that the conquistadors introduced their rules and the ruling system. This paved way for natives to be in a position to run their political system.
The conquest of Latin America led to the exploration of various treasures that became beneficial to the conquistadors instead of the natives. The natives were enslaved to work in large farms with minimal benefits. Certainly, the family structure of the natives was completely destroyed due to forced slavery. The conquest of the new world saw the selfish Christians from Spain taught the natives how to sacrifice in order to help other people. These seemed ironical since the conquistadors did the opposite of what the Christians taught (Castro 34).
Undeniably, the natives in Latin America were nomadic inhabitants who fished, hunted, kept animals, as well as carried out rudimentary farming. The coming of conquistadors led to a complete change of social life, the natives had to leave their lifestyles and work in plantations. The social structure changed due to widespread torture, enslavement, and death among the natives. Perhaps, the colonization of Latin America led to breaking down of native culture, which in some extreme caused a total loss of native languages. In conclusion, there are various motivations that made the conquistadors develop interest in the New World. Some of the motivations include search of power, religious reasons, political reasons, search for raw material, as well as the urge to explore. In addition, the colonization of Latin America had a numerous impact in the political, social and religious structures.
Castro, Daniel. Another Face of Empire: Bartolomé De Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism. Durham, N.C. [u.a.: Duke Univ. Press, 2007. Print.
Cook, Noble D. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492 – 1650. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999. Print.
Cothran, Helen. The Conquest of the New World. San Diego, Calif: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Print.
López, Kimberle S. Latin American Novels of the Conquest: Reinventing the New World. Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press, 2002. Print.
Meltzer, David J. First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. Print.
Memmi, Albert. The Colonizer and the Colonized. London: Earthscan, 2003. Print.
Natella, Arthur A. Latin American Popular Culture. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2008. Print.