The World from 1450 to 1700

By John E. Wills Jr. | Go to book overview

Prologue: Texas
and the World

On June 17, 1527, a squadron of five ships with about six hundred men aboard set out from the port of San Lucar de Barrameda in southern Spain. The commander, Pámphilo de Narváez, had a royal commission to “conquer and govern” lands along the north side of the Gulf of Mexico from the peninsula that now is Florida to about the Texas-Mexico border. Other Spaniards were named to lesser offices in the planned colony, and there were several Franciscan priests on board. There is no evidence that the Native American inhabitants of these lands would have any say as to who ruled them. The pope had divided the world between the Spanish and the Portuguese monarchies. Most Roman Catholics believed that the pope was God’s deputy on earth, the head of the one true church. Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, was just beginning his long years of bitter struggle against the challenges to Catholicism of Martin Luther and his followers. Anyone on the voyage over thirty-five had been born in a Spain still at war with a Muslim monarchy in its midst, at Granada, and the tensions between Spanish Catholics and Spaniards of Muslim and of Jewish heritage gave an unusually militant character to Spanish Catholicism. Piracy and slave-raiding across the Mediterranean, between its Catholic northern and Muslim southern shores, also shaped people’s attitudes. Some of the leaders of the expedition brought an African slave or two along to serve them.

The expedition sailed into a Caribbean already transformed by more than thirty years of Spanish occupation and exploitation, by European diseases to which Native Americans had no resistance, and by the improbable triumph of Hernán Cortés and his forces over the great Aztec Empire, a triumph that no doubt was the model for what Narváez and his followers hoped to accomplish. They sailed straight into the Caribbean hurricane season, even more dangerous for wooden sailing ships than it is in modern times, and were lucky to survive several storms as they took on more horses and supplies in Cuba. In April 1528, when they finally landed on the shores of the planned colony, somewhere

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The World from 1450 to 1700
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Editors’ Preface xi
  • Prologue- Texas - And the World 1
  • Chapter 1 - Islam and a Wider World, 1450–1490 7
  • Chapter 2 - Columbian Exchanges, 1490–1530 26
  • Chapter 3 - Old Ways Made New, 1530–1570 49
  • Chapter 4 - New Shapes of Power, 1570–1610 72
  • Chapter 5 - Settlers and Diasporas, 1610–1640 96
  • Chapter 6 - Time of Troubles, 1640–1670 119
  • Chapter 7 - Toward an Early Modern World, 1670–1700 140
  • Chronology 155
  • Notes 157
  • Further Reading 160
  • Web Sites 164
  • Acknowledgments 166
  • Index 168
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