The Invaders of North America

The invaders of North America represented (sort of) the Holy Roman Empire. Europe at the time of 1492 and for a couple of centuries after that was filled with tribal territories often with boundaries that were not fixed or agreed upon. At the time there were few countries. Nationalism really came later. At the time there were mainly city-states and small nations. Napoleon was really right when he said, “the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”

When two imperialists from worlds apart met, the Castilian of Spain and the Aztecs of Mexico, they represented two expanding empires that both had a tribal origin. Both had gained control of other people. Mexico of course was much larger. The Aztec capital on the site of what is now Mexico City contained one quarter of a million people. That was 4 times as many as Tudor London.  About 20 million people were under their control. At the time the British islands had about 5 million people and Spain about 8 million.

Europe was not really as civilized as Europeans might want us to think. Ronald Wright in his book Stolen Continents described Europe this way,

“European secular government was a tangle of decayed feudal loyalties and personal ambition.  The last proper roads had been built by the Romans more than a thousand years before.  The rapidly growing cities were unplanned, ramshackle, without sanitation, seething with poverty and disease. If famine struck a region, the state was quite unable to provide relief. Life expectancy oscillated between the high teens and low thirties, lower than in the most deprived nations of today. The achievements of Europe were technological, not social. It had the best ships, the best steel, the best guns; it also had conditions desperate enough to make its people want to leave and use these things to plunder others. Spain, in particular, was scarcely touched by the Renaissance; 700 years of war against the Moors had produced a warrior culture filled with loathing and contempt for other ways of life, not a new spirit of inquiry.”

The invaders of North America  were dirty, hairy, uncouth, and, let us be clear about this, savage. I am not saying the Indigenous people were angels, but the Europeans were certainly not.

Leave a Reply