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 Rivals on the World Stage
The plague lasted for seventy days, striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people....We were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot.
—Aztec eyewitness to the smallpox plague that explorer Hernán Cortés accidentally brought to the Americas
The desire for power, resources, and luxury goods caused military and trade interactions between many states around the globe. As existing and emerging powers established control in new territories, they brought their languages, religions, and cultures with them. In many cases, they also brought disease and destruction.
Overseas European Empires
As Europeans established new trade networks, they sometimes negotiated agreements that benefited both themselves and local people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. However, Europeans often used coercion to establish overseas empires by subduing native populations or enforcing trade monopolies.
Spanish Colonies
The Reconquista (see Topic 1.5) meant that Spain had become a more unified and powerful nation. This unity and power had come at tremendous cost—in lives lost in battle and for Jews and Muslims who either had to flee the country or convert to Christianity. Once Spain’s rulers had stabilized their country, they turned their attention to the outside world.
Spain wanted direct access to the Asian spice trade. Spain had the wealth and resources not only to compete for trade but also to establish a vast empire of colonies. This empire would generate great wealth. It would also spread Christianity, either by persuasion or force, throughout the Americas and parts of Asia.
Early Explorations Italian explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) was a devout Christian and an experienced sea captain. From his study of sea charts and other sources, he concluded that the earth was small enough that the shortest route to Asia from Europe was by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. He tried to persuade Portugal to support his plan, but the Portuguese
 Essential Question: How and why did trading networks and colonial expansion affect relations among European states?
Topic 1.7

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