During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century the primary driving force for all cultures can be summed up by one simple word, and that word is greed. Many of the countries that had power at the time were greedy savages and all they wanted was more land and power. Countries that were powerful at the time were Spain, Portugal, Japan, and others. Also in the countries the governing body of them had their way or the highway they did not care what had to be done or who had to be killed. If the ruler of a certain country did not like something they did not care what had to be done to stop it. Powerful countries at the time such as Spain and Portugal only cared about power and one word that sums them up is greed.
During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century Spain was one of the most powerful countries. When Columbus set sail in 1492, he founded the Americas and all that came with the, such as gold spices, and other expenses, this is how Spain became extremely rich and powerful. This land that Columbus founded was known as the New World. It is described by Michel de Montaigne in Of Cannibals ” New World so lately discovered: for that almost touched upon Spain, and it were an incredible effect of an inundation, to have tumbled back so prodigious a mass, above twelve hundred leagues.”1 Columbus was known for founding the Americas, the truth was he set sail for the Indies. When he landed in the America’s he thought it was the Indies.
As Columbus wrote in his letter to the King and Queen he said ” As I know you will be rejoiced at the glorious success that our Lord has given me in my voyage, I write this to tell you how in thirty-three days I sailed to the Indies…” 2 Spain sent Columbus to the Indies to get gold and spices to make their country richer and more powerful. This goes back to the idea of greed, all Spain wanted was Columbus to set sail and make their empire powerful. For example when Columbus landed he found an assortment of islands (now known as the Caribbean), and he claimed all of them in the name of Spain. As Columbus writes ” To the first island I discovered I gave the name of San Salvador, in commemoration of His Divine Majesty, who has wonderfully granted all this. The Indians call it Guanaham. The second I named the Island of Santa Maria de Concepcion; the third, Fernandina; the fourth, Isabella; the fifth, Juana; and thus to each one I gave a new name.” 3 Spain was a blood thirsty country. Spain wanted to conquer as much land as they could to make their empire more powerful. Another example showing Spain was greedy is In Gun Germs and Steel Spanish general Francisco Pizzaro led a group of 168 Spanish soldiers and conquered the Inca Empire. Pizzaro and his men killed almost 90,000 Incans, they not only killed men, they killed women and children. They slaughtered anything that came in their way 4.
During this time period many rulers had one way their country was ruled, and anyone who opposed that way was considered a rebel and were usually either killed or imprisoned. Countries like Spain and Portugal were run by a King and Queen and they enforced all their policies. Such as in the film The Mission, Portugal and Spain were buying and selling land because Spain did not believe in owning slaves. Spain sold land to the Portuguese in order for the Portuguese to take it over and take the Guarani as slaves. The Portuguese while attempting to capture the Guarani were attacked by them. The Portuguese slaughtered the Guarani killing not only the rebels fighting for the freedom, but they murdered innocent women, children, and the Jesuit monks. While murdering all the innocent people they burned down the entire mission above the falls.5 The Portuguese did not like the fact that the Guarani were worshiping God at the mission because they believed that the Guarani were animals. So they burned the entire mission and slaughtered the Guarani.
Another example of this is in the novel Silence, two young priests from Portugal are sent to Japan to support the local church there and to find out if their mentor Father Ferreria, has apostatized. Father Rodrigues and Father Garrpe arrived in Japan in the early 1600’s and they discovered the local Christian population. The local officials there want all the Christians to trample on the fumie, or give up their faith to God. The Christians who refuse to do so are imprisoned and/or are killed in a ruthless way. The ruler Inoue did not want Christianity to spread throughout Japan. That is why he has his secret officials go out and murder any Christians who did not trample on the fumie. This goes back to the idea of countries who do not like something in their country they just kill it off. Father Garrpe was eventually killed because he refused to renounce his faith. Father Garrpe drowns eventually drowns later in the novel, Father Rodrigues eventually is imprisoned because he will not renounce his faith.
After being imprisoned Rodrigues eventually renounces his faith. Endo writes ” Nor could he forget the one-eyed man killed in plain daylight: while indelibly imprinted on his mind was the picture of the women who had given him a cucumber: she had been trussed into a basket and drowned at sea.”6 The one eyed man and the woman who gave him a cucumber were both devoted Christian followers and were killed because they were extremely strong individuals for not renouncing their faith. They were killed by the soldiers for not trampling on the fumie. This relates to the idea of greed by all countries want is their way of ruling are not open to any other ideas.
A main topic of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century was religion. Countries wanted a religion would be spread all through its land. For example in China the Franciscan monks convinced the Pope that Christianity was compromising with Chinese tradition7. The Pope ordered the Jesuit missionaries to conduct services according to European traditions. The emperor at the time was Kung Xi, Kung Xi banned Christian teachings from China8. This goes back to the idea of countries being greedy, all they want is their way.
Spain was the worst of all of the countries when it came to greed. They killed people left and right and they had one goal and that was to become rich. They wanted to make themselves rich and powerful no matter who they killed or what they did all they cared about was riches and power. As Bartoleme de Las Casas writes “The common ways mainly employed by the Spaniards who call themselves Christian and who have gone there to extirpate those pitiful nations and wipe them off the earth is by unjustly waging cruel and bloody wars. Then, when they have slain all those who fought for their lives or to escape the tortures they would have to endure,”9 Las Casas is writing about how the Spanish go from nations weaker than them and the Spanish slaughter the nations conquer them and move on to the next one. Las Casas also writes “Their reason for killing and destroying such an infinite number of souls is that the Christians have an ultimate aim, which is to acquire gold, and to swell themselves with riches…. It should be kept in mind that their insatiable greed and ambition, the greatest ever seen in the world, is the cause of their the greatest the world has ever seen.”10
In closing, the main driving force of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century was greed. The powerful countries at the time only cared about power and riches. The rulers of the powerful countries such as Spain and Portugal only wanted their way and nothing else. Like in The Mission when the Portuguese murdered all the Guarani because they failed to follow their orders to go back to the jungle. The Chinese who ordered the Jesuit Monks to conduct services by European traditions. Lastly the Spanish who murdered thousands of innocent people like the Incas just so they could conquer all their land. As said by Las Casas Spain was by far the worst and their greed and ambition was the greatest the world has ever seen. Greed one simple word sums up the primary driving force of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth century.