The Columbian Exchange


What is Columbian Exchange?


1)The creation of colonies in the Americas that led to the exchange of new types of food, plants, and animals. 

Some backgrounds:
In 1453, Constantinople was captured by Tusks and they called it Istanbul. You have to know this time Constantinople is a road that connect Europe with Middle East and Asia so this place is clearly important for trading. But Tusks isolated Istanbul and they did let anyone go thorough this place
==> European has to find a new way to come to Asia.
And Because of the Technological Revolution such as:
I/ The Caravel ( developed by Portuguese  1400s):
– It is a ship
– it developed because of the background The Galley
This is a Galley (8,000 year) Untitled drawing (3).jpg

It has some problems: 1/ Lack of cargo space because it has many sailors inside.

2/ Flat- bottomed.

This is a Caravel:untitled-drawing-4

Pros of Caravel:

1/ Rounded Bottom

2/ Wind – powered

3/ Carry more cargo

4/ Half of Garley crews

5/ Travel Ocean and Sea

II/ Magnetic Compass: invented in China

III/ Astrolabe: invented by Indian.untitled-drawing-5

Note: Portuguese used Magnetic Compass and Astrolabe to determine where they are in the sea. 

Portugal (1400s)

  1. Bartholomew Diaz ( 1st expediture)
    He is the first expediture and he sailed to the edge of Africa and then come back
  2. Vasco da Gama (2nd)
    He is the second expediture and he sailed across west Africa, through Indian Ocean and landed at Goa city of India.
    This expediture took 2 years to sail to and back


1. Good news is European have a new route (sea route) to go to Asia

2. Bad new is the route is 4000 miles and it took 2 years

3. Portugal came to conclude Earth was sphere so if they can go east, then they can go west.


  • Christopher Columbus – took 8 years to prepare for expendition
  • 1492, he sailed
  • After 6 weeks, they go to seagoal
  • Then he landed at Bahamas
  • Anybody in this time reads “The travel of Marco Polo”
  • He conducted 4 expenditures and go around gulf of Mexico for many times, but he could never find China, and he did not know.

Columbus: Reality Check

  • Did not cover anything
  • He “rediscover”the Western Hemisphere
  • Not Italian

The development of Spanish Empire ( 1490s- 1560s)

Spanish is proactive

Other Spanish Explorers:

  1. Balboa
  2. Magellan (1519 – 1522)
    – 5 ship
    – 250 sailors
    – 1 ship
    – 17 sailors

The Treaty of Tordasillas (1494) (Spain + Portugal)

Pope Alexander VI

Two key industries:

  1. Plantations (slave labor)
    Arabs, North Africa (1300s): encomienda: using the slave in Africa instead of Indians.
  2. Mines ( Gold, Silver, Tin, Copper)

Other European Powers:

  1. English (1600s)
    I. The South ( Geogra, North and South Carolina)
    II. Chesapeake ( Maryland, New York, Peann, Delaware, New Jersey)
    III. New England ( Mass, Plymouth, New Haven, Connecticut, Rhode Island)
  2. French
    New France ( 1608) : Quebec, Upper Midwest, Mississipi Valley, Great Lakes)

Key factors in The Spanish conquest of Mexico:

  1. Disease: Smallpox
  2. Military Technology:
    – Cannon
    – Muskets
  3. Indian allies

Spanish conquest Mexico:

1. Hernan Cortes ( 1519)

  • 600 soldiers
  • 20,000 Indian allies



  • 5,000,000 people
  • 30,000 troops

2. Pizarro

  • less than 2o0 soldiers
  • Took over Inca Empire (Peru now)

Other aspects of the Columbian Exchange:


  1. The (estimated) total population of indigineous people in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus: at a minimum 6-12m / maximum: 80-100m
  2.  How many indigenous people died? at least 10% / at high 90%



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