Christopher Columbus' discovery of a new world in 1492 led to a power struggle of enormous proportions throughout Europe over the next three hundred years.The taking of land and the treatment of its native peoples would define this struggle.Each major player in this chess game of colonization would have different means to reach their ultimate goals.The goals and means of these European powers would be have many similarities while at the same time differences that caused great animosity between countries.
Columbus sailed for Spain and his arrival in the Caribbean would not only change the people and lands that he came into contact with, but it would change the entire world.Spain began its colonization of Latin America in search of wealth that could bring great power back home to Europe.The Spanish would claim land and control over it and its peoples through ceremony.On Columbus'first journey he claimed islands for his king and queen "with appropriate ceremony and words."1These ceremonies and words were made official when recorded by the notary and land became official property of the Spanish empire.
2 The Spaniards, while in search of wealth, had other goals as well.They believed it their duty to convert the heathens of this new land to Christianity.3Many of the natives they would encounter would view the Europeans as spiritual beings.Hernan Cortes easily conquered the great Aztec city of Tenochtitlan because of these false beliefs.Upon his arrival in the city, the Aztec leader, Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, believed Cortes to be the god Quetzalcoatl returning to rule Mexico.
Moctezuma decided not to resist the Spanish invasion directly and quickly lost his city and eventually the entire Aztec state.There are several other recorded cases in which the natives were very welcoming to their invaders because they believed they were supernatural spirits."Columbus concluded that the in..