Age of Destruction





Age of Destruction

The Europeans set off in search of new territories for many reasons, and one of them was to civilize the people of those regions. Christopher Columbus and Prince Henry the Navigator are some of the earliest explorers who discovered the Americas. The Europeans saw themselves as the most civilized nations on earth, tasked with the discovery and civilizations of other populations. Many people laud the work of these earliest European explorers and settlers as the ‘Age of Discovery’ because they brought many new things with them to the Americans, including new crops, animals, religion, trade currencies, among others. However, the arrival of the Europeans also came with many other detrimental effects, including diseases, the obliteration of native cultures and economies, as well as the introduction of slavery. Because of these adverse effects and results of European discovery in the Americans, the ‘Age of Discovery’ should instead be referred to as the ‘Age of Destruction.’

There are several reasons why the Eupnoea discovery of the Americas is viewed positively. One of these reasons is that the Europeans introduced new varieties of crops and animals to the Americas that since spread to the rest of the world. Examples of these include potatoes and corn, as well as cows and horses. These food crops went on to become staple food crops in other regions of the world and contributed to the expansion of the world population. Another positive impact of the European discovery of the Americas was the introduction of silver and gold as payment for goods (Duiker & Spielvogel 368). This improved method of trade later fuelled the Industrial Revolution in Europe and also the Americas.

Despite these positives, one of the negative impacts of the Europeans exploration and discovery of the Americas was the introduction of slavery. The Europeans spread their exploration efforts far beyond the Americas, and they eventually landed on the West African Coast. As they occupied the Americas and other territories such as the Caribbean, Europeans introduced plantation farming of cash crops such as sugar and cotton. The farming process was labor-intensive, and the Europeans came up with the idea to import slaves from Africa to work in the plantations. Slavery is a painful part of human history, and it destroyed so many lives. This is one of the reasons that the European discovery of the American should be labeled the ‘Age of Destruction.’

The second reason why the European discovery of the Americas proved destructive is that it introduced many deadly diseases into the Americas. When Hernan Cortes and his companions first arrived in the Americas in 1519, the greatest fear that the Spaniards had was the firearms carried by the newcomers. However, they soon realized that they had a lot more to fear. The Europeans brought with them some invisible firearms; they were carriers of disease-causing microbes that soon wiped out the majority of the native population. Some of the deadliest plagues of the European exploration include Smallpox and the Black Death. During the 14th century, the Black Death ravaged entire populations, killing nearly half or even more people in the areas affected (Duiker & Spielvogel 342). Additionally, the Europeans also contracted new diseases such as malaria when they arrived in Africa. These diseases spread in different ways as the Europeans interacted with other populations, such as trade routes and through Mongol warriors.

The third reason why the Age of Discovery should be renamed the Age of Destruction is because it destroyed the culture of the Native Americans. The Europeans saw their discovery as a sign from God that they should inhabit the new lands and civilize the inhabitants. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Native Americans had their own traditional religion. However, the Europeans saw this as heathenism and idol worship and strove to convert the natives to Christianity. After Vasco Núñez first laid his eyes on the Pacific Ocean, he thanked God for allowing them to discover the new lands. God would allow them to convert Indians to Christianity, bring prosperity to the Castile, and discover great wealth in the Pacific Ocean (Duiker & Spielvogel 367). This prayer showed that Vasco and his companions already had a plan to destroy the culture of the natives, claiming that bit was God’s will for Christianity to expand into Cuba and the Americas.

In addition to destroying the culture of the Native Americans, the Europeans also mistreated the Indians and turned them into slaves. In ‘The Tears of the Indians’ a Dominican monk named Bartolome´ de Las Casas describes the horrific experiences of the Indians at the hands of the Spanish. When the Europeans first arrived, the monk helped them in the conquest of Cuba and was rewarded with land and Indians. However, he later regretted the oppression of the Indians and spent the rest of his life fighting for their rights. In his document, he describes how the Spanish would force the Indians to search for pearls in the ocean. The Indians were allowed no rest, and the slightest slacking would earn them a beating (Duiker & Spielvogel 367). In addition to this, they were given meager portions of food despite their hard labor. Their bodies transformed as a result of so much time spent in the sea, such that they resembled monsters. This mistreatment of native Indians is yet another reason why the term ‘Age of Discovery’ should be done away with, and replaced with the ‘Age of Destruction.’

In conclusion, the European discovery of the Americas brought many benefits as well as adverse effects. Throughout history, many people have dwelt more on the positive aspects. However, the adverse effects were much more profound, and for this reason, the discovery should be called the ‘Age of Destruction.’ Some of the reasons why the discovery proved destructive are because it led to slavery, destruction of Native American culture, and mistreatment of the natives. It also led to the spread of many deadly diseases such as smallpox and the Black Death. The Europeans saw their discovery and conquest of new territories as a God-ordained task to spared Christianity and amass wealth for their kingdoms, but they wrought much havoc across the lands they discovered.

Works Cited

Duiker, William J., and Jackson J. Spielvogel. The Essential World History, Volume II: Since 1500. Nelson Education, 2012.