Episode 2: European Empires in the New World pt. 1

During the late 15th century to about the 18th century Europe would be engaged in extensive overseas exploration and would also emerge as the “center” of the world, at least in regard to its power, militarily and economically. This is the start of the age of European colonialism, sometimes referred to as the first age of empires (the second one starting in the late 19th century with the “scramble for Africa” and ending in the wake of World War II). A question that we need to address is why? Why did Europe suddenly become so interested in the rest of the world, and why did it come to dominate it?
First of all, the emerging nation-states in Europe began seeking power in the competition against their rivals. Competition was fierce in the 15th century, but it would become even more so with the addition of a religious component thanks to the Protestant reformation. That would make it to some extent a rivalry between Protestant and Catholic nations.

Map of the Spanish Treasure Fleets

The Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral in Lima, Peru (Viceroyalty of Peru)

Treaty of Tordesillas

About the author, Shawn

I'm a historian, teacher, and university lecturer with a focus on militarization and empire in American history.

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