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Spanish History Guide : The Discovery of America

Spanish History- The Discovery of America

One of the most significant dates during the history of Spain: the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

The fact that Christopher Columbus (who was not originally Spanish) appealed to a foreign court to offer his services proved that the discovery of America was not incidental.

In 1479, under the Treaty of Alcacoba, Alfonso V of Portugal renounced his claims to Castilla and recognized the rights of Castilla over the Canary Islands. This meant Spain now controlled the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands were an excellent bridgehead for alternate routes. This is what Christopher Columbus offered and he offered it to a State that needed them, prepared for this type of venture. Unified Spain possessed in 1492 a powerful military, a good economy, naval and exploration experience in addition to notable scientists, mathematicians, geographers, astronomers and shipbuilders. Its only rival was its neighbour, Portugal, who managed to put a stop in Spanish expansion to Africa. Therefore Columbus' proposal was well-received.

Columbus' offer was rapidly accepted in spite of his acknowledged errors. But during his journey to Asia he unexpectedly came across the American continent.

The Spanish were especially well prepared by history to conquer, occupy, populate and exploit new lands and assimilate new people. America thus became the new frontier-land for those people used to its ways and with the military, diplomats and administrative arms at their disposal to face the challenge. By the middle of the 16th century, they had settled in the two most important viceroyalties, Mexico on the Atlantic, and Peru on the Pacific.



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