By Hugh Thomas
From one of many maximum historians of the Spanish international, here's a clean and engaging account of Spain’s early conquests within the Americas. Hugh Thomas’s magisterial narrative of Spain within the New global has the entire features of serious historic literature: awesome discoveries, ambition, greed, spiritual fanaticism, court docket intrigue, and a conflict for the soul of humankind.
Hugh Thomas indicates Spain on the sunrise of the 16th century as an international energy on the point of greatness. Her monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, had retaken Granada from Islam, thereby finishing recovery of the complete Iberian peninsula to Catholic rule. Flush with good fortune, they agreed to sponsor an imprecise Genoese sailor’s plan to sail west to the Indies, the place, legend purported, gold and spices flowed as though they have been rivers. For Spain and for the realm, this determination to ship Christopher Columbus west was once epochal—the dividing line among the medieval and the modern.
Spain’s colonial adventures started inauspiciously: Columbus’s meagerly funded day trip expense under a Spanish princess’s contemporary marriage ceremony. regardless of its small scale, it used to be a project of outstanding scope: to say for Spain all of the wealth of the Indies. The gold by myself, concept Columbus, might fund a grand campaign to reunite Christendom with its holy urban, Jerusalem.
The lofty aspirations of the 1st explorers died challenging, because the pursuit of wealth and glory competed with the pursuit of pious impulses. The adventurers from Spain have been additionally, in fact, serious about geographical mysteries, and so they had a awesome loyalty to their nation. yet instead of bridging earth and heaven, Spain’s many conquests bore a sour fruit. of their look for gold, Spaniards enslaved “Indians” from the Bahamas and the South American mainland. The eloquent protests of Bartolomé de las Casas, right here a lot mentioned, all started shortly. Columbus and different Spanish explorers—Cortés, Ponce de León, and Magellan between them—created an empire for Spain of unsurpassed measurement and scope. however the door used to be quickly open for different powers, enemies of Spain, to stake their claims.
Great women and men dominate those pages: cardinals and bishops, priors and sailors, landowners and warriors, princes and monks, noblemen and their decided wives.
Rivers of Gold is a smart tale brilliantly instructed. extra major, it truly is an engrossing heritage with many profound—often disturbing—echoes within the current.