Skip to main content

Module

HIS2085 : Pre-Columbian and Spanish America

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Claire Brewster
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

The nature, scale, and complexity of pre-Columbian society greatly confused the Spanish explorers: they gazed in wonder at the magnificent palaces and temples, yet were horrified by evidence of human sacrifice. In this module we study the clash of cultures that lay behind such confusion. You will gain an appreciation of the wide diversity of the indigenous civilisations that pre-dated the arrival of the Europeans, and more specifically will acquire an in-depth knowledge of the diverse, often contradictory, facets of the pre-eminent civilisations at the time of “discovery”: the Aztec and Inca empires. We will consider the motives and preconceptions of early European explorers and how tales of their exploits fired the imaginations and ambitions of the conquistadores and early colonial settlers.

The experience of conquest had irrevocable effects for both victors and vanquished. The indigenous who survived military defeat and disease faced a future of marginalisation, exploitation, and discrimination. For the victors, euphoria quickly turned to factionalism as competing interests sought to profit from their new colonies. In analysing the shape of colonial society, we gain an appreciation of how these tensions were borne out in social, religious, political and economic life. Finally, we question the degree to which it is right to assume that the experience of conquest was complete. We look at examples of indigenous resistance to colonial authority, and consider the extent to which such rebellions drew inspiration from the past and left a legacy for those that would follow.

The aims of this module are:
•To provide an appreciation of the salient features in pre-Columbian and early Spanish American history.
•To provide an opportunity of investigating selected problems in some depth and of acquiring a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the associated secondary literature.
•To develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture and discussion topics may vary from year to year but will include the majority of the following:

Lectures
The indigenous civilisations of Central and South America
Maya culture and society
Aztec culture and society
Inca culture and society
Spain in 1492
Spanish voyages of exploration
The conquest of the Aztec Empire
The conquest of the Inca Empire
Spanish Colonial administrative system
Early colonial society: missionaries, encomiendas, mining
Depopulation of the indigenous
Spanish ecclesiastical debates
African slavery in the Spanish American colonies
Caste system and cultural diversity
Indigenous resistance

Seminar topics
European perceptions and pre-conceptions of the world in the fifteenth century.
The expansion of the Aztec Empire
The conquest of the Aztec Empire
The expansion of the Inca Empire
The Conquest the Inca Empire
The demise of the indigenous population of Spanish America
The role of religion in the conquest and colonisation of Mexico
The role of religion in the conquest and colonisation of Peru and Bolivia
To what extent was the conquest of Spanish America complete?

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable