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Shipping costs typically based on books weighing 2. European encounters with different races of people had taken place since antiquity, as recorded by Herodotus ca. Notable sporadic voyages, and diplomatic and religious missions had been undertaken in the 13th century to eastern Asia , to the Mongolian Empire and to the court of the Great Khan, mainly by Italians.

Naval explorations beyond Gibraltar by Portuguese and Italian navigators had seen voyages westward and along the southern Atlantic routes and the western coasts of Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries. But voyages that took place from the s onward had an impact which went far beyond their economic or political significance. The arrival of the Spanish in the "New World" would also transform life in Europe and the Americas on the material, cultural and intellectual levels, drawing both Europe and the Americas into an increasingly transatlantic and transcultural relationship, producing what has been described as the "Columbian exchange".

Perhaps less dramatic but nonetheless of enormous economic significance, were the Portuguese voyages to India , which revitalized Western interaction with southern and eastern Asia. In the West and in the East, the Europeans established contact with different kinds of human societies and cultures. The societies and cultures which Europeans encountered in the Caribbean and in continental North and South America were generally viewed as "savagery". However, Europeans also encountered civilizations which they viewed as more "advanced" in the form of the Aztec, Maya and Inca empires, posing fundamental historical and ethnological questions.

In the East, on the other hand, Europeans encountered civilizations that they recognized as ancient, complex and highly structured civilizations, which — unlike indigenous populations in the Americas — did not present them with pliable trade partners or easily subjugated native populations.

The perceived "savagery" and "half-civilized" empires which the Europeans encountered in the Americas invited them to conquer these societies and implant new political, economic and legal systems there, as well as new languages and religions.

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During subsequent exploration and expansion, Europeans encountered other indigenous populations during the 16th and 17th centuries in the Americas, South Africa , Indonesia , Oceania , as well as northern and central Asia. Europeans categorized these as "savage societies" of hunters and fishers, or "barbarian societies" of nomadic herdsmen. From the second half of the 17th century, however, the efforts of Jesuit missionaries and of French, English, and German orientalists led to the discovery of an entirely different, culturally developed kind of "otherness": Arabic literary traditions; the Brahminic or Vedic religious culture of India; Confucian philosophy in China ; the Baalbek and Palmyra civilizations in the Near East ; and the Indo-Iranian Avestic and Indian Sanskrit linguistic and literary traditions which inspired the so-called "Oriental Renaissance" and "Oriental Enlightenment".

In the final years of the 18th century, new regions of the African continent began to be explored by Europeans. British rule was consolidated in India in the early 19th century. The early and midth century also witnessed the beginning of the colonization of Australia and New Zealand; the French expeditions to Tonkin , Vietnam and Cambodia in the s; British involvement in Afghanistan and British efforts to gain entry into the markets of China; as well as German, Belgian and Italian imperialist activities in western and eastern Africa. The conquest and settlement of the American West continued throughout the 19th century until the frontier was officially declared closed in At the end of the 19th century, there was hardly a region of the world — regions of China, Japan , the Arctic and Antarctic continents were the exceptions — into which Europeans had not extended their economic and military power, and their culture.

The encounters which European expansion set in motion processes which resulted in a world increasingly defined by transcultural and transnational phenomena. These processes dramatically altered the demographic and ecological history of the globe, for example, through the mass displacement of Africans by the slave trade , through colonization and the transplanting of social, religious and juridical ideas and practices, through the increasing enmeshment of overseas regions in European political history and diplomacy, through mass migrations of intermittent intensity from Europe to the Americas and subsequently from the rest of the world to Europe, and through a massive diversification of the range of goods available on the European market and the gradual emergence of the world economy.

The consequences of these events have been the subject of numerous historical studies, which are summarized below. Europe's discovery of the Americas "not only opened a new source of wealth to the busy and commercial part of Europe, but an extensive field of speculation to the philosopher, who would trace the character of man under various degrees of refinement, and observe the movements of the human heart, or the operations of the human understanding, when untutored by science or untainted with corruption".

Europeans viewed the newly "discovery" Native Americans as "savage" societies. The term "savage" came to denote people and societies that were not only different in language or religion. In antiquity and during the medieval period, the term "barbarians" was used to denote people who were different in terms of language, culture or religion.

But in the early modern period, as a result of the encounters mentioned above, the term "savages" came to mean people who supposedly did not meet the basic prerequisites of civilized society, who lived by the laws of nature, or without any laws, learning, religion or morals. Two prevalent attitudes towards the Native American quickly emerged. According to one attitude, they were living testimony to a lost golden age before the fall from innocence.

According to this attitude, the natives were fully human and thus had the capacity to acquire all the perceived benefits of European civilization, including Christian doctrine and, accordingly, salvation. As potential members of the Catholic Church and subjects of the crown of Castile, they should not be enslaved, it was argued, and they should be granted the same rights as any other Spanish subjects.

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According to this view, it was the duty of the Spanish crown to establish a political order that would protect its American subjects from the colonists' rapacity. However, the other prevalent attitude defined the Amerindians as only semi-human beings or even "beasts", lacking all the fundamental prerequisites of civilized people. They were not "good", it was argued, but "bad savages": cruel, immoral, stupid, incapable of hard work, devoid of moral and political norms, and with a propensity for inhumane practices, such as sodomy, cannibalism and human sacrifices.

They were clearly not fully human beings and had to be subjected to a superior political authority, which would bring them the blessings of European and Christian order. While the attitudes described above were undoubtedly coloured by debates about legitimate authority in the newly acquired territories, the Amerindian peoples also posed serious questions of a philosophical and doctrinal nature.

Their very existence on a landmass separated from the Eurasian-African landmass by a vast ocean raised questions about the re-population of the world after the biblical flood by the inhabitants of the Ark, as described in Genesis. The fact that they had apparently not been introduced to Christianity, or the other two monotheistic religions of the Old World, called into question other aspects of the Bible narrative and of Christian doctrine.

Moreover, some of the newly discovered people, while physically human, had apparently no equivalent forms of economic organization, political authority or religion.

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They were nomads, gatherers, hunters, fishers, or were at best herdsmen or simple cultivators of the soil. They lived in small, often temporary villages and had few domesticated animals. They did not possess iron tools. They had no formal religions equivalent to the monotheistic religions of the Old World. To Europeans, their social life seemed to lack rules and conventions for regulating sexual intercourse and family relationships. Those who lived in the more sophisticated urban societies and state structures of the great Mesoamerican empires were viewed as being not much more advanced technologically and culturally than the "savages" and were frequently referred to as "barbarians" to distinguish them from the "savages".

These European impressions and observations were recorded in a vast historical, juridical, religious and philosophical literature. Its rapid growth accompanied the process of European expansion in the New World, providing the educated European public with an opportunity to familiarize itself with phenomena from the other side of the Atlantic. At least three major problems emerged during these discoveries. They related to the origins and nature, the history, and the future of the Native American peoples. Debates about the origins and nature of the Amerindians gave rise to a variety of competing explanations over the subsequent centuries.

According to a biblical, monogenetic view of mankind, they were the descendants of Adam, according to which view they had survived the biblical flood by migrating to land that was not submerged. Another polygenetic view held that they were the product of an act, or acts, of creation separate to the one described in Genesis, with God creating different human beings according to the differing geomorphology of the various regions of the world.

Diffusionism and evolutionism were two further theories deviating from traditional Christian doctrine which were proposed to account for the existence and origins of the Native Americans. Connected with the above considerations was the problem of social forms and of history. European culture gradually developed a tendency to analyse different cultures and social organizations, which later developed into the disciplines of ethnography, anthropology and historical sociology.

Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries

The first important contributions in this field came not from secular, but from religious authors — the missionaries. Missionaries devoted themselves to the task of understanding new cultures. In their endeavours, they linked the debate about civilization to the issue of evangelization. Exploring concepts of "barbarism" and "savagery" more deeply, he reached a new understanding of how natural, educational and environmental factors affect the political life and historical development of human communities.

His discussion of the difficulties of evangelizing among people with a radically different culture and language are noticeably more modern than previous writings on the issue of evangelization. What is particularly relevant about Acosta's analysis is the link between ethnology and history which he established in his analysis of barbarism. Acosta's comparative ethnology identified several varieties of barbarians and homines sylvestres feris similes "men of the woods akin to wild beasts" distinguishable by varying forms — or just the absence of — recognizable verbal communication, political organization and religious observance.

But his ethnological descriptions also offered a clue to history. He held that all races of men, before being fully civilized, had undergone an historical development through three successive levels of barbarism. In other words, the present state of the American peoples represented the primitive state of mankind. Were the Indians capable of rising to higher levels of organization? Acosta's Christian providentialism held no place for any hopeless confinement in savagery. But the Indians could improve only under the guidance of the politically and religiously superior Europeans.

Acosta also showed how orthodox Christian diffusionism could be reconciled with history by applying the theory that migration and the persistence of nomadic conditions were unfavourable to civilization.