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When Worlds Collide, 1492-1500


The Expansion of Europe

        European Communities

        The Merchant Class and the Renaissance

        The New Monarchies

        Portuguese Explorations

        Columbus Reaches the Americas

The Spanish in the Americas

        The Invasion of America

        The Destruction of the Indies

        Intercontinental Exchange

        The First Europeans in North America

        The Spanish New World Empire

French and English Explorations and Encounters

        The Political Impact of the Reformation

        The French Colony in Florida

        Fish and Furs

        Social Change in Sixteenth-Century England

        England Turns toward Colonization












Bubonic Plague


Sagres Point



Amerigo Vespucci








Treaty of Tordesillas






People and Events

Christopher Columbus

Bubonic Plague


Prince Henry

Vasco de Balboa

Hernan Cortes

Bartolome de las Casas

Cabeza de Vaca

Juan Ponce de Leon

Hernan de Soto


King Henry VIII

Queen Mary

Elizabeth I

Sir Walter Raleigh



Review Questions


  1. Discuss the roles played by the rising merchant class, the new monarchies, Renaissance humanism, and the Reformation in the development of European colonialism.
  2. Define a "frontier of inclusion." In what ways does this description apply to the Spanish empire in the Americas?
  3. Make a list of the major exchanges that took place between the Old World and the New World in the centuries following the European invasion of America. Discuss some of the effects these exchanges had on the course of modern history.
  4. In what ways did colonial contact in the Northeast differ from contacts in the Caribbean and Mexico?
  5. In what ways might the English experience in Ireland have shaped expectations about American colonization?


Recommended Reading


Cyclone Covey - Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America (1983).

Alfred W. Crosby Jr., The Columbian Exchange Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972).

David Ewing Duncan, Hernando de Soto: A Savage Quest in the Americas (1995).

Charles Gibson, Spain in America (1996).

Lewis Hanke, The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America (1949).

Miguel Leon-Portilla, The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (1962).

Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, A.D. 500-1600 (1971) and The Southern Voyages, A.D. 1492-1616 (1974).

Anthony Pagden, Lords of All the Worlds: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c. 1500-1850 (1995).

David Beers Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke Voyages and Colonies 1584-1606 (1985).

Kirkpatrick Sale, The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy (1990).

Carl Ortwin Sauer, Sixteenth Century North America: The Land and the People as Seen by the Europeans (1971).

David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World (1992).

Hugh Thomas, Conquest: Montezuma, CortÚs, and the Fall of Old Mexico (1993).