Europe and America in the Age of Exploration (1400-1700)

                             

Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries

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This lecture explores the European background to the Age of Exploration. Important topics to examine are the decline of medieval feudalism, the rise of capitalism, and technological innovations, particularly in navigation and shipbuilding.

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The Americas before 1492

Lecture Themes:

This lecture explores the Western Hemisphere before contact in 1492. Key topics to examine will include the prehistoric migrations into the Americas from northeastern Asia, the sedentary Indian civilizations of Central and South America (particularly the Mayas, Incas, Aztecs), and the nomadic and semi-nomadic Indian tribes of North America.

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Contact and the Spanish Empire

Lecture Themes:

This lecture explores the early stages of the Age of Exploration and colonization of the "new world." Important topics to include are the Portuguese-Spanish maritime rivalry, Columbus's voyages and exploits, the conquest of Central and South American Indian civilizations, the establishment of the Spanish-American empire, the catastrophic impact of contact on the American Indian population, and how the discovery of America changes western Europe.

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Contact and the French Crescent and New Netherlands

Lecture Themes:

This lecture examines the colonization efforts of the French and Dutch in the 17th century. Important topics to explore are the political and economic positions of these nations in early modern Europe and their motives for global exploration, the establishment of New France in the St. Lawrence River Valley and expansion into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Valley, the founding of New Netherlands in the Hudson Valley, and religious and economic relationships these Europeans had with the Native American Indians of North America.

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Contact and England's Follies (Roanoke and Jamestown, 1585-1610)

Lecture Themes:

This lecture examines England's late-entrance into the European Age of Exploration.  Important themes to raise include England's internal political, religious, and economic problems of the 15th and 16th centuries (prior to its overseas ventures), the reasons for England's entry into the Age of Exploration, the failed expeditions to Roanoke, and the near-disastrous expedition at Jamestown.

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