CHY 4U 2011: Spain and the Americas

To understand how powerful Spain was in the 16th century, consider the following:

  • ‘Spain held substantial territory on five continents, including the New World.

    This map, from Wikipedia, illustrates the scope of the Spanish Empire.
  • Despite its defeat in 1588, the Spanish navy was the best in the world
  • ‘The Spanish infantry was highly capable
  • ‘One might assume that Spain was wealthy due to the steady stream of gold and silver from the New World. However, this wealth dwindled as the increase in gold and silver actually devalued their worth; the cost of maintaining the Empire eventually put Spain into debt.
  • ‘Spain was the protector of the Catholic faith throughout the world. This led to a seemingly paradoxical application of Catholicism throughout the Empire: on one hand, Spain was a chief sponsor of the Inquisition, a violent and bloody attempt to rid Europe of heretics and Protestants.  On the other, Spain actually banned the slavery/forced employment of New World natives after members of the Church convinced the crown that the natives were innocents, and needed the protection of the Church (Spain did not, however, stop using African slaves).

Your Task Today is to the Answer the Following Question in 2-3 persausive paragraphs:

How should the Spanish Empire’s actions in the Americas be remembered? (While you are not obligated to include references to the historical schools in your response, using one to anchor your work might be helpful)


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