Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from by Hugh Thomas

By Hugh Thomas

From one of many maximum historians of the Spanish global, 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 all of the features of significant old literature: awesome discoveries, ambition, greed, non secular fanaticism, courtroom intrigue, and a conflict for the soul of humankind.

Hugh Thomas exhibits Spain on the sunrise of the 16th century as a global strength near to greatness. Her monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, had retaken Granada from Islam, thereby finishing recovery of the total Iberian peninsula to Catholic rule. Flush with good fortune, they agreed to sponsor an vague 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 area, this determination to ship Christopher Columbus west was once epochal—the dividing line among the medieval and the modern.

Spain’s colonial adventures begun inauspiciously: Columbus’s meagerly funded excursion rate below a Spanish princess’s contemporary marriage ceremony. inspite of its small scale, it was once a challenge of miraculous scope: to say for Spain all of the wealth of the Indies. The gold by myself, proposal Columbus, could fund a grand campaign to reunite Christendom with its holy urban, Jerusalem.

The lofty aspirations of the 1st explorers died tough, because the pursuit of wealth and glory competed with the pursuit of pious impulses. The adventurers from Spain have been additionally, after all, eager about geographical mysteries, and so they had a extraordinary loyalty to their state. 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, the following a lot mentioned, begun presently. 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 brilliant tale brilliantly informed. extra major, it really is an engrossing historical past with many profound—often disturbing—echoes within the current.

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Frederick the Great would have to give way to a more imposing figure; perhaps Tirpitz saw himself in that role. Tirpitz’s first move to position himself as the father of a “high-seas fleet” had been to ask for the creation of a “strategic-tactical Admiralty Staff ” as “a main task in the navy”; such a move was essentially a declaration of independence from the Prussian army’s firm control of German sea forces. He also implicitly argued for construction of a large German “war-fleet stationed in European waters” as an adjunct to the “annihilation strategy” being developed by Alfred von Schlieffen and the German General Staff for the defeat of France through the Low Countries.

Finally, the United States could not even impose its will upon fractious hemispheric neighbors. S. fleet was so inferior to that of Chile that Washington could not intervene on behalf of friendly Peru when the two Latin countries went to war. Only a modern industrial navy could preserve and promote expanding American overseas interests, and only an Isthmian canal could guarantee the shuffling of fleet units from one ocean to the other that would ensure a rapid response to hemispheric and Pacific crises.

40 On April 10, 1898, the Reichstag passed the First Naval Law, calling for the construction of nineteen battleships, eight armored cruisers, twelve large cruisers, and thirty smaller cruisers by April 1, 1904. Moreover, capital ships would be automatically replaced every twenty-five years to guard against obsolescence in an age of rapid industrial and technical advances. At first foreign observers were not unduly alarmed by the German initiative. The nature of the fleet set forth in the law seemed to imply that Wilhelm and Tirpitz intended only to strengthen Germany’s existing coastal-defense forces.

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