Portuguese Exploration and Spanish Conquest

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1492, Christopher Columbus lands on Hispaniola. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas divides the Americas between the Portuguese and the Spanish; the Cantino world map is shown. In 1517, Martin Luther publishes The Ninety-Five Theses; a portrait of Martin Luther is shown. In 1521, Hernán Cortés conquers Tenochtitlán. In 1530, John Calvin strengthens Protestantism; a portrait of John Calvin is shown. In 1534, Henry VIII breaks with the Catholic Church and establishes the Church of England; a portrait of Henry VIII is shown. From 1584 to 1590, English efforts to colonize Roanoke fail; a map of the region is shown. In 1603, Samuel de Champlain founds New France. In 1607, the first permanent English settlement begins at Jamestown; a map of the region is shown. In 1624, the Dutch found New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island; a print of Dutch settlers meeting local Indians is shown.

Portuguese colonization of Atlantic islands in the 1400s inaugurated an era of aggressive European expansion across the Atlantic. In the 1500s, Spain surpassed Portugal as the dominant European power. This age of exploration and the subsequent creation of an Atlantic World marked the earliest phase of globalization, in which previously isolated groups—Africans, Native Americans, and Europeans—first came into contact with each other, sometimes with disastrous results.