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Showing posts from 2011

England and Africa: A Vexed History (1500-1650)

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Initially, the British had a clandestine trading relationship with the African Kingdoms, which grew more open as the British naval forces grew. England and Africa were connected in an Atlantic world of commerce and information in what was called the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, more commonly known as the Triangular Trade. Through the Triagular Trade, as you can see from the map above, goods and slaves were traded among Africa, England, the Caribbean, and the Colonies. This was a product of merchanitlism. Merchantilism is when lumber is used to make products and those products are sold throughout the Colonies and the known world all to the benefit of the Mother Country (England, in this case).

Because of the Triangular Trade, there was a creation of Creole Culture. Creole Culture was a fusion of African and European trading practices, dress, and languages. It featured powerful African traders, knowledgeable African translators and clerk, and Africans as human merchandise. People transp…

A Very Brief History of Slavery

It may seem like I am digressing by compiling this post but, I assure you, I am not. To write about American history and to study and learn about American history, one must also learn about slavery. Slavery is often said to be a dark spot on America's history, but it also helped to sculpt our identity as well.

Slavery wasn't just present in the English settlement of Jamestown, slavery was also present in Africa. However, there were differences in African and Old World Slavery compared to the slavery system utilized in the Chesapeake. I will explain the differences in all three slave systems in this blog post.


Traditional African Slavery
~There was no permanent slave status and slaves were socially absorbed into the lineage after the first generation.
~Bartering of adults during famine was common.
~People would pawn themselves in hope for a better life or because of an inability to pay a debt.
~Compensation for serious crimes was paid in people.
~Criminals were sold out of the …

Characteristics of the Chesapeake

Each part of the New World was unique and each of what would later be the Thirteen English Colonies had their own characteristics.

1) Periodically, the Chesapeake was really violent, with many revolts and battles between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan.

2) Because of the overproduction of tobacco, there were freqent boom/bust cycles.

3) Because more men came over to the New World seeking economic freedom and glory, the Chesapeake was extremely unequal when it came to the sexes.

4) There was an extreme wealth gap--the wealthy planters known as the Gentry were early arrivals who survived to transmit their wealth to the next generation. They were able to get the few English women and start families, they were able to buy laborers, they were able to get into politics, they lived on the favorable land near the coast, they were able to diversify into Indian trade, and they were able to make policies that benefitted the Gentry class. The poor got the crappy land in the backcountry, …

The Founding of Jamestown: England's First Permanent Colony con't...

The Introduction of Tobacco

In 1620, John Rolfe and other new settlers came to Jamestown, Virginia to make a difference. Once they arrived there, they came across a down-trodden group of colonists...all that remained of the settlers of Jamestown was about 1/10th of its original population when they had arrived and set up the colony, thanks to the lack of proper food, water, shelter, and diseases. The difference that John Rolfe was set on making was that he would find some other way for the colony of Jamestown to prosper, as it was evident that looking for gold wasn't going to be the way.

John Rolfe had brought tobacco seeds from the Spanish Caribbean to the colony. Tobacco was a cash crop and a vast amount of the English were addicted to it, to the point where King James had even had it banned. But it wasn't just in England where tobacco was a luxery product, there was great demand for it all over Europe.

Although tobacco demanded large investments (presses, barrels, laborers…

The Tessentass Arrive--The Chesapeake--The Founding of Jamestown, England's First Permanent Colony

The Chesapeake was a for-profit corporation headed un the Virginia Company founded to make money for English investors; however, the Crown would take over in the 1620s for reasons I will get to later on.

The Chesapeake was founded near a strong coastal empire controlled by the Powhatan Indians who had already acquired immunity to some European diseases. The Powhatan initially reach out to the settlers of the Chesapeake for trade and tribute, but the English are aggressive and are clumsy using diplomacy with people they feel are inferior to themselves.With the introduction of tobacco and livestock, competition for land increases and intercultural violence also increases. With the migration of strangers, mostly poor whites who had no other options, Jamestown was not a very socially cohesive or community-minded place. There was a short life expectancy, so Europeans introduced African slavery in 1619, although it was not dominant until the 1690s. Jamestown was a very unequal society.

The…

Roanoke--the Lost Colony

When I first heard about the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia (now a part of the Carolinas) I was in the fifth grade and I found it fascinating how a colony could just vanish and all that was left behind was the word "Croatoan" carved into the bark of a tree. Even today, it's unknown what happened to the colonists of Roanoke, but one thing is for certain and that is that colony of Roanoke is the first English colony established in North America.

Virginia Dare was born in the short-lived English colony of Roanoke on August 18, 1587. She was the first English person born in America.

Plans for America

And now we come to the bread and butter of this blog, the English colonization of North America, where the rest of the 'story' can now unfold from.


King James I came to the throne in 1603 and rules until 1625, not only was he the king of England, but he was also the king of Scotland, so he united the two--hence, the "United Kingdom" or "Great Britain".

King James wanted to raise revenues but didn't want to spend his own money to do so. So, he began to charge licensing fees for overseas companies and this looked like a good, low-risk bet. He began to allow various people to travel to the Americas so they could colonize them. Some of the early colonies, as you will see, will not be as successful as the ones made famous in this time period such as Jamestown and later Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth.

Effects of the "Price Revolution" and Elizabethan Policy

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~~Certain industries, like woolens, get an artificial boost from Elizabeth's new direction in policy and treaty-making
~~Aristocrat estates are rented on long leases--not very responsive to rising costs or sudden changes in economic plans--noble class grows weaker and poorer (allowing the monarch to get more powerful)
~~Gentry and yeomen switch to short-term leases, more responsive to short-term market trends (like enclosing lands to pasture sheep when wool prices are strong and kicking peasants off the land, or growing new varieties of wheat and making a lot of money)
~~Gentry and yeomanry grow powerful, aristocrats struggle, poor grow dramatically poorer and more numerous--75% of population are living below the poverty line and crime sky-rockets
~~Poor Laws--for the poor to work (not a lot to do, work habits slacken) or indenture them if they won't do so willingly
~~Young men and women are looking for a new place to start
~~~~~> Elizabeth's eyes turn towards Ireland

Elizabeth I and the Problems of Queenship

Hey y'all. Before I begin to write on the subject of Elizabeth I and the Problems of Queenship, I would like to apologize for not being on lately to post an entry or two. I had some trouble with my internet last week, but everything is fixed now and I'm ready to get back in to the swing of things! As always, I hope you enjoy this post.


Elizabeth I was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was born a princess but her mother was executed two and a half years after her birth, and Elizaneth was labeled an illegitimate child. Elizabeth reigned as Queen regnant of England and Ireland after her half-siblings Edward VI and Mary I from November 1558 until her death. She is often referred to as the Virgin Queen because she never married, and is known for the leader during the time of defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, giving credit to "Protestant winds" (a storm at sea).

Now, the problems of queenship
~~Salic Law forbade female monarchs on the "Contine…

England's Early Empire

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England, 1500-1600s

England, as is common knowledge, is an island shared with Wales and Scotland. In the 16th and 17th centuries, England was considered to be a very violent and ill-educated backwater by the rest of Europe. England had tried to colonize Ireland in the 12th century, but their effort had petered out.

Due to natural reproduction among the lower social classes, population increased and with it came the beginnings of urban migration due to the poor economically integrating with the rest of Europe; there was little to sell and mass poverty was growing increasingly worse and inflation was rising.

Also during this time, political factions were held down by a strong king, Henry VIII, with a civil war, the War of the Roses, not long past. Henry VIII wanted total sovereignty in legal and spiritual matters. This came to a head when he wanted a divorce so he could get a new wife and (hopefully) a male heir. He broke from the Catolic Church and declared himself the head of the Ch…

Creating Empires Changes Europeans (short post)

~~Changes their political systems
~~Changes their economy
~~Changes their moral and religious lives
~~Changes their view of human rights and liberty--albeit very inconsistantly (as will be seen in later posts)

Rivals in the Caribbean: French v. Dutch (short post)

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(pictured: Dutch Man-of-War and various other ships)

Although the Spanish and English were known for their colonies in the Caribbean, a little known fact is that the French and Dutch also had colonies in the Caribbean.

The French had established colonies at St. Christopher, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and other islands in the West Indies after 1625. The Dutch, through their West India Company, expanded into islands in search of a lucrative trade in sugar cane and slaves.

The presence of so many Europeans vying for supremacy in the Caribbean made it a very violent and pirate-ridden place...think "Pirates of the Caribbean" on crack.

Rivals for the Northeast: The Dutch

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From 1492 to the early 1600s, Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands were in a race to see which empire could not only spread their influences far and wide but also to see which could find an all-water route to the Asian subcontinent of India.All four empires failed, but all four empires found success in the New World. In New York, it was the French, Dutch, and later the English who found great success.

Albany, formally known as Fort Orange, was settled by the Dutch in early 1600s after being discovered by Henry Hudson. Looking for a faster route to Asia in 1609, he explored the river which was later named for him, northward from the island of Manhattan.

Hudson's crew on his ship, the Half Moon (pictured), were under stress and angry that that no route to Asia had been found. The crew mutanied and sent Hudson, his son, and any supporters onto a small rowboat adrift in what is now Hudson Bay without food and palpable water.

Despite that, the Dutch set up New Amterdam in 1626…

The French, continued...

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Although the previous post is titled "The French in Mainland North America", it was primarily about the first and second voyages of Jacque Cartier and there is so much more to information about the French in mainland North America to be provided. This blog post will briefly discuss the French cultural adaptation, the significance of the fur trade, religious development, and the founding of Quebec by Samuel de Champlain.


French Cultural Adaptation

Coureur des bois was a term meaning "Runners in the Woods". They acted as field representatives to deliver French-made goods to the Indian villages and to take back packs of fur to the French villages. The Coureur des bois adopted indigenous dress, learned the different languages, sought cultural knowledge, and entered into long-term relationships with the women. This kind of relationship was called marriage a la facon du and was absolutely essential to develop kin networks. The Coureur des bois embraced intercultural marr…

The French in Mainland North America

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Early French exploration began in 1534 because King Francis I was eager to catch up to Spain and their colonization efforts of the New World.

And idea circulating at this time was that of the Great River of the West, better known as the Northwest Passage. This idea was borrowed from discoveries in human anatomy. Early modern Europeans thought that oceans were like the circulatory system and that there should be an east-west artery through the huge land mass of North America.

Jacque Cartier was assigned to seek out gold, silver, and this all-water route through North America to Asia. He headed way to the northeast, sailing through the Strait of Belle Island between the Canadian mainland and Newfoundland down into the Gulf of St Lawrence so he could avoid the Spanish Armada, Spain's fleet of warships designed to protect their holds in the Americas.

Cartier's first voyage was brief and in the summer of 1534 where it was warm and land was bountiful. Cartier, after he was met by …

Significance of the Spanish Empire

First, because of the Spanish Empire, there was a new wealth of knowledge going back to Europe about the New World. This also triggered indigenous intellectual revolution as groups absorbed and then refined new technology to meet their needs.

The Spanish Empire was very durable and influencial from 1492 to the 1840s in the lower half of what is now the United States and the Pacific coast. However, there were many environmental changes brought upon by the Columbian Exchange, along with new breeds of livestock, pests, and new DNA combinations from the conquistadors mating with the natives.

Because of the new DNA combinations from the conquistadors mating with the natives, there are new bi-and tri-racial populations. The Spanish also help to perfect the Trans-Atlantic slave routes from Africa, because of the need for even more mine workers after the discovery of gold, and to create European expectations that slave labor, whether Indian or African, would be fundamental and beneficial to…

The Spanish in the Americas: Northern Expansion

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Like with every empire, the early conquistadors of the Spanish Empire wanted to expand their holds in the New World, especially in pursuit of rumors of El Dorado, the City of Gold, of which they heard about from the natives which reside in what is now the country of Columbia. However, all of the explorations from such conquistadors/explorers as Cabeza de Vaca, Hernan de Soto, and Coronado for such a city came up empty-handed and this created a fifty-year period of indifference.

By the 1590s, about a hundred years after Columbus ventured to the New World. merchants and mine owners wanted to develop trade, the Crown wanted to secure the northern border to protect valuable mines, and the Church wanted to spread Christianity.

Although the term wouldn't be coined until 1845 by John L. O'Sullivan, this was a perfect example of "Manifest Destiny". "Manifest Destiny" is the spreading of your influence as far north, south, east, and west as possible. We'll get …

The Age of Colonization: The Spanish in the Americas

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An important development at this time was the idea of human rights, the idea that one deserves to live with certain inherent liberties and quality of life by the virtue of being human. This idea developed as a result of the colonization of the Americas.

Key: Red=The Spanish Empire; Pink=Regions of Spanish influence after periods of time; Purple=Land lost at or before the Peace of Utrecht in 1714.


The Spanish in the Americas raised fundamental questions about: the nature of creation, their right to govern this new place, and the duties that they owe these new (and obviously culturally different) people.

At first, the conquistadores would act as they would against any infidel--they would treat them as non-humans. It wasn't a sin to rape them, take their land, and kill them if they were infidels and didn't have the same ideals they had, as what could have also been witnessed during the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula and the Crusades. The Monarchy was horrified when they got…

The Columbian Exchange and the Disease Frontier

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The Columbian Exchange is a term coined by ecologist and historian Alfred Crosby to describe the profound transformation of both sides of the Atlantic when species of all sorts started traveling around in the Era of Exploration. Before European exploration had began, regions had been remote from one another. Particles and other wind-borne things could travel or would be carried by birds, but at a very slow exchange rate prior to European travel by ships.


The Disease Frontier

Pathogens reproduce themselves every 20 seconds and because of this, there were many epidemics during this era. Death rates were between 20-30% at first contact on the virgin soil, mostly killing people in their prime years (early to mid-20s) first. The next pass killed young children and pregnant women. Opportunistic infections, followed by weakened immune systems, were made worse by crowded conditions or densely populated areas. Collateral damage included the curtailing of reproduction, social disintegration, a…

Spanish Overseas Exploration

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Lucrative exploitation of Atlantic islands off the shore of Africa in the 15th century had led the Spanish to have an additional reason to find populated tropical islands elsewhere, and they thought Columbus could help them.

With the discovery of the Atlantic islands (Azores, Madeiras, and the Canaries), the Iberians discovered that they were perfect for sugar cultivation. And the Iberians learned a lot of lessons from their interactions on the Atlantic islands. They witnessed the effectiveness of steel weapons, mounted men, and war dogs on the native; they learned how to exploit rivalries between indigenous peoples; they turned natives into commodities as slaves; and they pioneered a profitable combination of the plantation system and the slave trade, but they still wanted more.

What were the many motives for Spanish overseas exploration? Columbus said that he could easily and quickly get to Asia, and the Asian subcontinent of India, by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean and th…

Summing up 1492

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Why did European exploration start in 1492?
~Preconditions all came together
~~~Technological advances make overseas exploration possible
~~~Spain finishes Reconquista and has need of a new place to mobilize and send decommisioned Hidalgos
~~~Expulsion of Spanish Jews and seizure of their properties, combined with seizure of Moorish money, provided the financial backing necessary for exploration.

Early European Atlantic Exploration (before 1492)

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The success of European explorers and mercantile adventurers appeared unlikely at the start of the 15th century. Europe was a backward place, geographically hemmed in by the more sophisticated Muslim world. At the end of the 15th century, the Spanish and Portuguese had overcome eastern barriers by looking to the West and developing new technologies and ideas that would provide the basis of Atlantic exploration, colonization, and exploitation.

Before 1492, Vikings made temporary habitations in Vinland and Greenland, but climate change and opposition from indigenous "Skraelings" doomed their settlements.



Why didn't other Europeans follow suit immediately? Well, there were a lot of reasons why the other Europeans didn't follow suit immediately such as: domestic turmoil, disease, lack of technological capacity, religious rivalries that drew their attention to the Mediterranean rim, Black Death (around 1350 which wiped out nearly 75 million Europeans), and Islamic Ascen…

Native American Culture and Society before 1492

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Native American cultures before 1492 were diverse, dynamic, and interconnected. They shared a general world view--animism (the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena)--that would lead to conflict with European explorers and colonizers.

Evidence indicates that the peoples came from Asia to the Americas during the Ice Age, when the sea level was much lower than today and a large land bridge known as Beringia connected the continents.

As scholars learn more about the advances and retreats of the ice sheets, the camping sites of the migrating peoples, and changes in vegetation zones, a much more complete picture of the Americas emerge.

Current scholars hold that migrating peoples initially traveled on the narrow strip of ice-free land along the Pacific Coast. As the area between the Cordilleran and the Laurentide ice sheets lost its cover of ice, probably between 14,000 and 12,000bce, migrants may have also used the inland routes from present-day Alaska…

Time Periods

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Although the majority of this blog will be events which have taken place in the Contact Period (about 500 years ago to the present day), it's important to know what the time periods are since I will also be writing about the Native Peoples of North America.


~~Paleoindian Period (about 11,500-10,000 years ago)--This period marks the most recent glacial retreat. During it, small groups of hunting, fishing, and gathering peoples entered what is now New York. The landscape they confronted differed from today's. Mastadons and other now extinct mammals roamed here.

~~Archaic Period (10,000-3,000 years ago)--Around 6,000 years ago, the region's climate and environment were beginning to be like today's after gradually moderating for 4,000 years. Human populations and the size and number of their communities grew. Soapstone vessels and ceramic pots were first used near the end of this period.

~~Woodland Period (3,000 to 500 years ago)--By the beginning of the Woodland Peri…

Timeline (2001-present)

2001--George W. Bush becomes president; September 11th terrorist attacks alert America; Taliban removed

2003--Iraq War

2008-09--Global finance crisis and recession

2009-10--Health care reform births Tea Party

2009-present--Barrack Obama becomes first black president

2010--CERN scientists trap anti-matter

2011--Web social networking facilitates revolution; Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda leader, killed by US forces

Timeline (1960-1999)

1960-65--Civil Rights Movement

1961--Inauguration of John F. Kennedy; US Peace Corps established

1962--Cuban Missile Crisis

1963--Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Lee Harvy Oswald; Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as president

1965-70--Demonstrations against Vietnam War, such as Kent State

1966-69--Hippie Movement

1969--Inauguration of Richard Nixon; Cold War's Arms/Space Race between US and USSR leads to the Apollo 11 mission which sent Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin to the moon

1970s--Sixties energy starts to win specific battles like feminism

1970--US invades Cambodia

1973--War Powers Act; Nixon resigns due to Watergate Scandal

1974--Gerald Ford becomes president

1975--South Vietnam surrenders to North Vietnam

1977--Jimmy Carter becomes president

1978--Jerry Falwell founds Moral Majority

1979--Revolution in Iran, Americans held hostage

1980s--War on Drugs jails 1/5 of young black men

1981--Ronald Reagan becomes president

1983--Reagan proposes STAR WARS and increases m…

Timeline (1901-1955)

1901--President McKinley shot by anarchist; inauguaration of Theodore Roosevelt

1902--Roosevelt begins conservation of forests

1904--Roosevelt asserts US right to intervene in Latin America

1905--Albert Einstien proposes Special Theory of Relativity

1909--NAACP founded in New York City; inauguration of William H. Taft

1910--Fundamentalism begins with "Five Points"

1913--Inauguration of Woodrow Wilson

1914--World War I begins

1917--selective Service Act creates draft; Russian revoltions, USSR is formed

1919--Treaty of Versailles; League of Nations

1920--Panama Canal completed; Eighteenth Amendment prohibits alcohol

1921--Inauguration of Warren Harding

1924--Citizenship Act makes Native Americans citizens without impairing status as tribal members

1925--Inauguration of Calvin Coolidge

1929--Inauguration of Herbet Hoover; stock market crashes and Great Depression begins

1933--Inauguration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Roosevelt begins "New Deal"

1935--Social Securi…

Timeline (1860-1897)

1860--Tax-supported school system established; South Carolina secedes

1861--Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln; Fort Sumter fired upon; Battle of Bull Run

1862--Monitor v. Merrimac sea battle; Seven Days' Campaign; Battle at Antietam; Battle at Fredericksburg

1863--Emancipation Proclamation; New York City draft riots; Homestead Act; Battle at Gettysburg; Battle at Vicksburg; Lincoln introduces his Ten-Percent Plan

1864--General Grant begins a war of attrition; Wade-Davis Bill; General Sherman marches to the sea; Union Pacific and Central Pacific

1865--Freedmen's Bureau established; Thirteenth Amendment ratified; Union capture of Richmond, VA; General Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House; Lincoln assassinated by John Wilkes Boothe; Special Field Order 15

1865-67--Presidential Reconstruction

1866--Ex parte Milligan ruling; Civil Rights Bill; Ku Klux Klan established

1867--Reconstruction Act; Tenure of Office Act

1867-77--Radical Reconstruction

1868--Impeachment of Pre…

Timeline (1770-1859)

1770--Boston Massacre

1772--Somerset case

1773--Tea Act; Boston Tea Party

1774--Intolerable Acts; Continental Congress convenes; Thomas Jefferson's "A Summary View of the Rights of British America"

1775--Lord Dunmore's Proclamation; Battles at Lexington and Concord

1776--Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"; Declaration of Independence; Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations"; John Adams's "Thoughts on Government"

1777--Battle of Saratoga; Vermont state constitution bans slavery; Articles of Confederation drafted

1778--French Treaty of Amity and Commerce; Rhode Island forms a black regiment in its state militia; Molly Pitcher serves during the Battle of Monmouth

1779--Thomas Jefferson writes "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom"; Pittsburgh Proclamation

1780--Robert Morris becomes director of congressional fiscal policy

1781--Articles of Confederation ratified

1782--Deborah Sampson enlists in the Continental Army; "…

Timeline (9000bce-1769)

To start, here is a timeline of American history.
(bce=before the common era, ce=common era)


9000bce--Agriculture invented in Mexico and Peru

5000bce-1000ce--Mound builders thrive in Mississippi Valley

900-1200--Hopi and Zuni tribes establish towns

1000--Vikings sail to Newfoundland

1142-1451--Great League formed among Iroquois Indians

1215--Signing of the Magna Carta

1430s--Gutenberg develops printing press

1434--Portuguese explore African coast below the Sahara

1487--Bartolmeu Dias reaches the Cape of Good Hope

1492--Columbus's first voyage to the New World

1497--John Cabot reaches Newfoundland

1498--Vasco de Gama sails to the Indian Ocean

1500--Pedro Cabral claims Brazil for Portugal

1502--First African slaves transported to Caribbean Islands; Nicolas de Ovando establishes settlement on Hispaniola

1516--Thomas More's Utopia

1517--Martin Luther launches the Protestant Reformation with his Ninety-Five Theses

1519--Hernan Cortes arrives in Mexico

1530s--Pizarro's conques…