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Spanish Conquest Lessons

            As Columbus set sail in 1492, the world was brimming with possibilities. No one was quite sure exactly what lay just beyond the horizon. However, Spaniards were fairly certain that whatever existed out there, it would supply two things: wealth and converts. To the Spanish, these potential prizes were irresistible. As the acquisition of the Canary Islands was just being finalized, Ferdinand and Isabella were confident the lessons they had learned in the Reconquest and especially off the coast of Africa would carry them to an even swifter and more profitable victory in future voyages. The conquest of the Canary Islands and their colonization was not done with a Spanish royal army, but rather by means of the throne offering citizens land grants and fiscal exemptions on land they would conquer. Anyone who wanted the adventure of foreign war had to organize private financing and following conquest would then recoup the expense by receiving the part of the taxes that would be collected from the newly conquered lands. The success of this policy stemmed from the fact that the Crown had little to no up-front expenses in the expansion of their empire. Ferdinand and Isabella now had an army of conquering ambassadors who only required payment upon their successful acquisition of land for Spain. By the time that the Canaries had completely succumbed to Spanish rule, this private army was almost perfected and ready to conquer the next frontier. And in 1492, with the very first sailor, Columbus, the New World conquest began. Over the past twenty years, the Spanish had gained valuable experience in conquering and subduing a foreign people. Now it was time to apply this in the conquering and conversion of Columbus" New World.
             Following the end of the Reconquest and the final expulsion of the Muslims, the Spanish had found new justification for the extension of their borders - pagans. In European eyes, the Canarians were a primitive, godless people.

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