An Introduction to Colonial Brazil

The Portuguese colonization of Brazil was like that of Spanish Latin America. The Portuguese Colonization of Brazil Now the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world, Brazil is not only impressive in size, but it is also geographically diverse with the Amazonian jungle at its center and the Atlantic Ocean[…]

The Spanish Conquistadores and Colonial Empire

The Spanish gained an early foothold in the colonies, quickly becoming the most powerful European power in the New World. Treaty of Tordesillas Columbus’s colonization of the Atlantic islands inaugurated an era of aggressive Spanish expansion across the Atlantic. Spanish colonization after Columbus accelerated the rivalry between Spain and Portugal to an unprecedented level. The[…]

Psalms and Silence: The Soundtrack of John Williams’s Captivity, 1704-1706

Williams’s captivity narrative reinforces what we already know about religious life in colonial North America: mutual distrust pitted French Catholics against English Protestants. It is December 5, 1706, and John Williams, a minister of the frontier town of Deerfield, has not been among so many godly Christians in nearly two years. Cotton Mather’s usual 1,500-member[…]

Maps and the Beginnings of Colonial North America

Exploring maps and mapmaking influenced the development of colonial North America. Introduction Thousands of surviving maps allow scholars to trace how European and indigenous understandings of North America developed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. These maps convey information about the continent’s physical features, practical details ranging from the contours of rivers and coastlines to[…]

Social Class in the American Colonies

Social class was prevalent and largely property-based in the colonies. The Colonial Elite Overview In New England and the mid-Atlantic colonies, the elite were wealthy farmers or urban merchants; in the South, they were wealthy planters. British Americans’ reliance on indentured servitude and slavery to meet the demand for colonial labor helped give rise to[…]

African Art and the Effects of European Contact and Colonization

African cultures never existed in isolation—there was always movement, trade, and the exchange of ideas. Introduction Early encounters with Europeans were often recorded in African art. Look closely at the top of the mask above (and detail, left). Do you see faces? These represent Portuguese explorers with beards and hats (flanked by mudfish) who visited[…]

Experiences of Colonial Troops during World War I

An overview of the numbers and roles of colonial troops in World War One. Introduction Even by conservative estimates well over four million non-white men were mobilised into the European and American armies during the First World War, in combatant and non-combatant roles. What do we know about the daily lived war experiences of these[…]

Colonial Circuits between Europe and Asia in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

The emergence of colonial migration circuits between Europe and Asia followed the ascendency of European mercantile and military power. Introduction The emergence of colonial migration circuits between Europe and Asia followed the ascendency of European mercantile and military power. In the early 19th century, the European presence in Asia was still extremely modest and very[…]

‘Peonage’: 19th-Century New Mexico and the History of Colonial Spain’s Debt Enslavement

A system inherited from colonial Spain kept Americans in servitude even after the Civil War. Imagine a time and place where a small debt—even just a few dollars—could translate into a lifetime of servitude not only for the debtor, but also for his or her children. For much of the 19th century, the American Southwest[…]

A History of Brazil from the Precolonial Era to the Kingdom Period

Brazil’s history can be divided into five economic periods, each characterized by a dominant export product. By Rex A. Hudson The Indigenous Population In 1500 Pedro Álvares Cabral’s fleet, which was en route to India, landed at Porto Seguro in what is now the state of Bahia. The territory that comprises modern Brazil had a[…]

A History of Nicaragua from the Precolonial Period to National Independence

Throughout its history, Nicaragua has suffered from political instability, civil war, poverty, foreign intervention, and natural disasters. By Tim Merrill Precolonial Period Present-day Nicaragua is located south of the pre-Columbian culture areas of the Maya and the Aztec in Mexico and northern Central America. Although conventional wisdom states that the culture of lower Central America[…]