Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


Lopez de Gomara Possession, the notion that European explorers could claim ownership of territories in the New World on behalf of their monarchs, shaped the encounters between Europeans and natives of the Americas. And for Europeans, print legitimated possession. By 1494, news of the New World was in print in Europe, and by the 16th century, European readers developed a keen appetite for American discoveries and conquests.
Printed texts accelerated the European push for colonization. Narratives of the conquests of "New Spain" - Mexico, Central America, and Peru - generated Spanish enthusiasm for a wave of colonization and missionization. Those same accounts fueled English desires for colonies and moved the French to claim "New France" further north. European writers linked the fate of empires to the success of their colonies, while promoters relied on print to render colonial outposts attractive to would-be emigrants.

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