Columbian Exchange 1492

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In 1492, just as the Reconquista ended in Spain, Christopher Columbus left for Asia. Spain would later create one of the largest empires in history. Expelling Jews and muslims, Ferdinand and Isabella highly centralized the Catholic bureaucracy and founded a strongly Catholic Spain (Norton 16). Also, increased competition with Portugal motivated the Spanish to explore this new route to Asia. Influence from the current cultural events shaped the motives for Spanish exploration. Spanish wanted to spread God, get gold, and gain glory (Norton 16). Searching for a easier route to Asia, the Spanish wanted access to silk, dyes, perfumes, jewels, sugar, gold, and spices (Norton 16). Also, the Spanish yearned to spread Christianity around the world.…show more content…
In the Americas, epidemic diseases wiped out huge percentages of natives. Smallpox was largely responsible for the deaths of thousands, but measles, typhus, influenza, and malaria also killed many natives (Norton 25). In exchange, the natives gave Europeans syphilis, an unpleasant viral sexually transmitted disease. Europeans were also responsible for the destruction of large scale governments, such as the Incan and Aztec governments. Additionally, many natives assimilated to Spanish culture and Catholicism, some perhaps by force. In Spain, the Columbian exchange brought new crops that enriched the diet, such as maize, beans, squash, cassava, and potatoes (Norton 24). Europeans brought domesticated livestock to the Americas, as well, including cattle and horses. Two more important crops were sugar and tobacco. The exploited labor of natives and Africans cultivated these crops for European and colonial consumption. Spain experienced short term economic growth from the discovery of gold and silver deposits (Norton 24). However, this wealth brought rapid inflation, caused the textile industry to collapse, and later the Spanish economy crumbled (Norton
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