Spanish Conquest in the Americas
Research papers on the Spanish Conquest in the Americas show that imperialism, in any form, denies a people their sovereignty while making them the subjects of foreign kings and gods. The belief that a nation can be justified in conquering another land for the purposes of gaining riches and converting the population is one steeped in what would be later called “manifest destiny”. This idea, that any nation can perceive itself to be important and powerful enough to excuse the subjugation of another people, is the heart of imperialism. Therefore, it is no surprise that the nations of Europe, long hemmed in and limited in their ability to expand their borders, would look outside of their small landmass to find new claims for their crowns. Spain, in the 16th century, began a long history of conquest in the Americas. With a lust for gold and the burden of conversion on their minds, the Spanish sent forth waves of conquistadores to make the Americas, Spain.
The two most significant empires, those of the Incas in South America and the Aztecs in Mexico provided the only real resistance to the Spaniards and their horses and guns. The two empires, though both eventually fell to the Spanish, suffered quite differently at the hands of their conquerors. The Incan Empire was one of decentralized control, which allowed the invading Spaniards to knock down kingdom after kingdom after kingdom while never receiving a unified resistance. Cortes, however, in his invasion of Mexico, met a centrally ruled Aztec Empire, which was able to offer significant military resistance at nearly every point. What made these two empires so susceptible to conquest was a combination of their structure and their inability to mass the forces necessary to truly overwhelm their adversaries. Thus, the Aztecs and the Incas were made subject to the Spanish Crown and to the Catholic God.