For more than a century, the national holiday of Spain, known as Hispanic Heritage Day, is celebrated on October 12. This is a clear anniversary: on the same day, but in 1492, the sea expedition led by Christopher Columbus reached the coast of America. From that moment, and hence the nomenclature, began the Spanish colonization of the American continent, which lasted for almost four long centuries of political and cultural dominance on the other side of the Atlantic.
The implications of the celebration, however, have been a source of debate in recent years and have focused attention on the Empire’s colonial and slave-owning past, the plunder to which conquered territories and peoples were subjected, and the legacy that it left the presence of the Spanish throughout the American continent, under constant review and dispute.
Yes, there was civilization before the arrival of the Europeans
Before the arrival of the Spanish colonialists, there were between forty and sixty million inhabitants of the Americas and about 1,200 languages were spoken. Of all the people and societies that exist on the continent, many civilizations and empires arose, such as the Aztec, the Mayan or the Inca, which were able to spread and settle for many centuries in many areas of the earth and build complex and heterogeneous societies. .
The Habsburg Empire
After a century of colonization and conquest by pre-Columbian peoples, the Spanish Empire reached its peak historical expansion in the 1580s, when the dynastic union between the Hispanic Monarchy and Portugal led to Philip II which became the sovereign of a territorial conglomerate that included colonial possessions on all continents. In America, it extends from California to the Río de la Plata, plus a large stretch of coast along what is now Brazil.
In Europe, beyond the Iberian Union, the Spanish Empire has territories such as the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Milan or the Spanish Netherlands under its dominion, while in Asia it is the center of the root of the colonial routes that entered the continent. the Philippines. .
The expansion across North America before the birth of a great world power
Until the 19th century, the viceroyalty of New Spain, established in 1535 after the fall and destruction of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, covered many areas of present-day Mexico and the United States: from Texas to New Mexico, which going through Oaxaca and Veracruz or Alta California or Florida.
With the independence of the two countries, a large part of these domains were lost in their own processes of liberation, in conflicts, transfers and purchases of territory.
The colonial routes and the commercial triangle
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the colonial expansion of Spain and other European powers reached one of its greatest apogees, reaching almost every corner of the planet. This dominance is based on an asymmetrical commercial triangle that has long connected Europe with Africa and America.
Therefore, the goods produced in the Old Continent left the shores of Africa, where they were exchanged for slaves captured by local elites. These slaves, and other manufactured goods, were sold in America, where many raw materials – obtained at the cost of forced labor – were sent back to Europe.
Latin America, the concept
Spain lost the last of its dominions in the Americas 125 years ago, but the country’s colonial and cultural legacy in the region is still very strong today. One of the most widespread examples is the concepts of Latin America and Latin America, which originated from the colonial rule of Spain and Portugal in America and which today refer to countries with similar linguistic and cultural relations.
The titles of the King of Spain, another colonial remnant
Spain is a constitutional monarchy where the king continues to be the head of State, although his figure is reduced to a more or less symbolic representation of the institution with little room for political maneuvering.
Something similar can be said of the dynastic titles, which have no value and are of a simple genealogical nature, that the Spanish crown maintains throughout the world, and which are a remnant of the colonial and imperial past of monarchy.
Thank you for using our content. That you can enjoy them for free would not be possible without the support of our subscribers. If you also appreciate our work and want to support us, subscribe.