Columbus is coming (Survey 3: 1450-1750 CE)

Lecture summary.

The 1500’s to 1700’s revolutionized the world by boosting exploration and unearthing scientific discoveries that would change the world forever. In 1514, for example, Nicolaus Copernicus boldly claimed that the sun and not the earth was the centre of our solar system. He published his heliocentric theory, the theory that the centre of the solar system is the sun,  called, “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” or “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres” in 1543. Unfortunately, this astronomy book was banned in 1616 by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Index  due to it questioning the teachings of Christianity where earth is the centre of the universe; on the other hand, the publication of this book is awarded to mark the beginning of the scientific revolution. It’s very interesting seeing how divided people such as scientists and the church were in regards to the answers of our universe. While both claimed that they were correct, scientists such as Galileo Galilei who is regarded as the “father of observational astronomy” and discovered that Jupiter has four moons, known as the Galilean moons, and Hans Lippershey, who invented the telescope in 1608, dauntingly testified against some teachings of the Vatican.



Block books and Baroque: geo-political

World exploration was on the rise in Europe and with new discoveries came globalization and colonization. The Indigenous of Canada and the Americas were greatly affected by the Europeans and their quest to take resources for their home land. Before colonization, it was common practice for Indigenous peoples to enslave captured people in war. War captives were killed, enslaved or adopted ritually into their kin; males were usually enslaved or exorcised by means of torture whereas females were usually enslaved. Formally adopting war captives was a means of replacing those lost in battles and keeping integrating new kin. The mindset of many Indigenous was usually kin versus outsiders or other clans. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Iroquois), for example, consisted of sixty percent war captives that were integrated into their lineage in the 1660s. However, as the age of exploration dawned during the 1400s and the 1500s, Indigenous were captured, killed, and torn apart from their culture and families.

Family council being held regarding important matters.


The Spanish, most knowingly Christopher Columbus, captured and shipped the Indigenous of present-day South and Central America to Spain to gain political clout in 1493. This helped fuel the slave trade by the Spanish in which their settlement in the New World was fueled by the forced labour of many Native Caribbean people during Columbus’ four voyages and caused the spread of disease and death among many of the Indigenous.

The four voyages of Christopher Columbus.
A depiction of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamian Islands, not in Asia as he initially intended.


Jacques Cartier, a navigator from France also called the “founder of Canada”, led three expeditions to the Canadian maritime and into Québec while accurately mapping the interior of the St. Lawrence River. His first voyage consisted of reaching the provinces that’re known now as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. He also encountered Iroquois-speaking Indigenous in today’s Québec, the Haudenosaunee, in which they had contact and negotiated resulting in two of the chief Donnacona’s sons being brought to France as well as abducting several Indigenous in 1534. The second voyage, from 1535 to 1536, consisted of more men and ships and with the guidance of Donnacona’s sons they travelled the “Canada River”, later named the St. Lawrence River, to what is now Québec City. Although relationships were weak between the Indigenous and French, they survived the scurvy during the winter by the help of the Indigenous and their use of evergreen trees. Come spring, Cartier abducted Chief Donnacona himself, his two sons and sever other Haudenosaunee people and brought them to France in 1536, where they all died. Among the Indigenous, war broke out between the Haudenosaunee and the allies of the French; Iroquois clan leaders captured enemies to be adopted into their clan as replacement for those lost in battles. By the 1660s, about sixty percent of the Haudenosaunee consisted of adopted war captives.

A romanticized portrayal of Indigenous and French contact.



Early History

“Fighting for Justice on the Coast”,  John Price, University of Victoria

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