The Challenge of the New

Anthony Pagden

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 The Challenge of the New

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Europe's incursion into the Atlantic — the ‘occidental break out’ — after the mid-fifteenth century created many challenges and generated many kinds of ‘newness’ for all of those caught up in it. For the peoples of the African littoral, of the Canary Islands, of the Caribbean, and of the American mainland, the contact with Europeans throughout this period was inevitably, if not always initially, violent. Both Africa and America had been the site of large political structures which the Europeans called ‘empires’, Zimbabwe and Benin, Aztec Mexico and Inca Peru, before the fifteenth century. The discovery of America had seriously undermined both classical geography and the traditional Christian accounts of the creation and subsequent peopling of the world. It offered, however, other, less direct, challenges to the ancient understanding of the world which in the end, were to be even more devastating for the subsequent history of Europe.

Keywords: Europe; Atlantic; Africa; America; empires; geography; creation; Aztec Mexico; Inca Peru; Benin

Article.  7154 words. 

Subjects: History ; Maritime History

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