Influence of Columbus and Montaigne
Influence of Columbus and Montaigne

Influence of Columbus and Montaigne

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 3 (1172 words)
  • Published: November 19, 2021
Text preview

The writer Michel de Montaigne’s however has a unique view of the Americans whereby he uses the aspect of “the others” that existed in the sixteenth century. Montaigne’s first view of all the non-Europeans holds that they were savages, less than humans, cannibals and also as people who are hard to trust or depended upon. The natives Americans fall under this category and infact this view targets or permeates the Americans of that time. His second view about the Native Americans was that they were just noble savages just as the Europeans are. This is a unifying statement that argues that all human beings have a common origin and therefore the Americans are just a reflection of the human origin. Montaigne’s appeal to nature was meant to critique the pretention of the civilized countries (Backhaus, Ju?rgen, 70).

From the two views presented by Montaigne, there comes a perspective that all humans including the Native Americans have both the savage and noble traits which are well developed in the savage noble theory. Montaigne does not sanction or authorize the cannibalism as well as the killing of captives of the war. For this reason, Montaigne disregards the Europeans who treated the Native Americans with cruelty. He disregards the superiority of the Europeans by claiming that all people are subject to the identical foibles miscalculation as well as savagery.

Columbus’ diaries on the other hand express a contrary view to that of Montaigne. Columbus views the Native Americans as savages and people who are worthless in making any choice of their own. He forc

...

es all the natives to convert into Christianity with a brutal treatment of those went contrary to the creed (Loewen, James 25). Columbus’ view of the natives is worthlessness considering how he treated them. In the second voyage to Spain, his cruelty caused the death of two hundred slaves. Other slaves died in captivity and so his view on the natives was inhuman.

From an economic point of view, Columbus views the natives as uncivilized. This notion made him to take all their precious possession such as gold by ordering the natives to collect them on their behalf failure to which their hands were cut off. The other view of Columbus showed that the natives were helpless and defenseless (Loewen, James 26). Columbus takes the advantage of them lacking weapons by taking them captive. Columbus viewed the Native Americans as savages and people who are worthless and less human. His view showed that the Native Americans deserved no respect and also as people who cannot stand on their own.

The two writers, Columbus and Montaigne have completely different views concerning the Native Americans. Montaigne is compassionate while Columbus is cruel in the mode of treatment they give to the natives. The two are in the opposite ends of the colonial spectrum because they have nothing in common in handling the Native Americans. For instance, Montaigne is biased in favor of the Natives Americans by being enthusiastic in maintaining his respect to the natives’ lifestyle. The issue of polygamy which is allowed in the native spouses is enhanced by Montaigne who recommends the prestige of

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay
View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

the husbands. Montaigne even refers to the bible and to the wives of August and Dejotarus and how characters like Rachael and Sarah lived happily in a polygamous family. On the other hand, Columbus’position on the colonization spectrum is towards the worst end. His cruelty, disrespect and carelessness he portrays define his animal-like nature.

De Las Casas known as the “Defender of the Indians” falls at the position Montaigne. He was a devoted leader who also ruled in favor of the Native Americans. He condemned Spain for having treated them with cruelty because he valued humanity. One of the most remarkable deeds was when he came into a conflict with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 who was attempting to publish a book that would approve war against the Native Americans. He attended debates restlessly trying to convince the committee on why it should disapprove the book for publication (Zinn& Howard 166). These were just a few areas of the massive restoration he done in favor of the Native Americans.

Columbus was ruling Spain while Montaigne ruled France. The difference in perspectives of the two rulers is not dependent on their states. Columbus’ reign of terror is what many historians because his rule was so bloody. He left an unspeakably cruel legacy. Bartoleme de Las Casas who was a Spanish priest had to intercede of the native Americans by making various pleads that would reduce the brutality against the Indians. This is a sign that Columbus was naturally cruel even to the people of Spain (Loewen, James 25). He was also a dictator showing that his cruelty was a personal trait. From this angle, it is clear that Spain never affected the way he treated the natives.

On the other hand, Montaigne was also not under the influence of France. It is clear that France comprised Christians and he never influenced the Native Americans to embrace Christianity and neither did he borrow their mode of worship (Backhaus, Ju?rgen 71). Despite appreciating the polygamous marriages, he never compromised Christianity and therefore this is a personal initiative. The difference in perspective is therefore not dependent on the countries that reigned during that time (Zinn& Howard 166).

Native Americans were one of the minority groups in the world and their future was lied in the hands of the Europeans. There are minimal chances of raising an autonomous native character because American civilization was far much below that of Europe. The violent methods used by Columbus which marked his legacy were too harsh to withstand. The collaboration of Portugal, Holland, France and England to colonize America was so powerful to be questioned just by a mere native. All these countries except the England were as brutal as Spain and therefore anyone who would stand against them would just be fighting a losing battle. For instance, the Indians who failed to give gold to the Spaniards were cut off their hands and bled until they died.

The Columbian exchange never benefitted the Native Americans. The Old World crops such as wheat and barley among others were the contributing factors that brought down the economy of the Americas. Europeans took advantage

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay