Segments in this Video

Europeans in the New World (02:08)


In 1532 in Peru, Spanish conquistadors faced Atahualpa of the Incas, the most powerful man in the Americas. New World adventurers helped set us on the path to capitalism.

Columbus (01:39)

Columbus set sail in pursuit of the Orient; Muslim traders controlled the land route. Columbus gave wildly optimistic calculations of the distance.

Reaching Land (02:38)

Columbus's crew was nervous as the voyage dragged on; he begged them to keep going. Finally, a crewmember spotted land; Columbus stole the credit, and the huge reward.

Columbus's Thoughts on Natives (02:55)

Columbus thought he'd reached the Orient. He named the island San Salvador. Columbus wrote that it would be easy to conquer the people and make them Christian, and they would make good servants.

Islanders Die (01:21)

Spanish sailor traded beads for gold. After 13,000 years of isolation, the people of the island lacked immunity to diseases; almost all died within years of Columbus's landing.

Columbus's Legacy (01:29)

Columbus's report of a world that could be conquered brought Spanish Conquistadores and European traders. Columbus died thinking he had found the Orient.

Catholic Church Dominates Life (02:00)

Fear of famine and disease dominated European life; Europeans saw the afterlife as their best hope. The Catholic Church sold indulgences.

Luther's Protest (02:06)

Pope Leo X sold indulgences to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica. Luther nailed a protest to the church door, forcing the debate into the public realm; Gutenberg's printing press spread his message.

Luther's Defiance (02:00)

Luther burned the Papal bull condemning him. Luther used his trial before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to win German princes to his cause.

Violence Spreads (02:15)

In hiding, Luther translated the Bible into German. Peasant protests spread out of his control. Religious wars brought vast destruction.

Spanish Lay Ambush (02:09)

Inca Emperor Atahuelpa granted an audience to Spanish soldiers. The Spanish surrounded a public square to which he came; their weapons were unknown in the New World, so nobody was alarmed.

Capturing Atahuelpa (01:58)

A Friar presented Atahuelpa with a Bible; he rejected it. Pizarro used this to justify an attack; 2000 Incas and no Spaniards died, and Pizarro captured Atahuelpa.

Atahuelpa Killed (02:46)

A captive Atahuelpa offered gold. He was ransomed, but the Spanish forced him to convert to Christianity and garroted him.

Spain Squanders Wealth (01:38)

Spain spent its New World gold on churches, palaces and religious war and went bankrupt. Conquistadores ignored the potato in Peru as a source of wealth.

Natural Resources (01:55)

Russia was an impoverished outpost until Ivan the Terrible exploited Siberia's resources; its fur became valuable in the Little Ice Age.

Russia Takes Siberia (02:13)

Russia's Stroganoffs hired mercenaries under Yermak to take fur from Siberian hunters. Yermak pushed into the Khanate of Sibir, defeating soldiers who lacked guns.

Yermak's Downfall (02:18)

Yermak sent furs from conquered Siberia to Ivan the Terrible, demonstrating the immense wealth available. He pressed further east; his exhausted men were ambushed, and Yermak drowned.

Russia and Siberia (01:01)

Russia expanded 4000 miles to the Pacific in 60 years, conquering Siberia. Siberia is the source of Russia's oil and other resources, the basis for its power.

Jesuits in Japan (01:17)

Japan declined the opportunity to expand like European countries. Jesuits came to Japan in 1549, converting hundreds of thousands and serving as go-betweens in trade.

William Adams (02:18)

Japanese warlord Ieyasu rejected Jesuits' urgings to crucify shipwrecked Englishman William Adams as a Protestant. Adams helped make European-style ships; Ieyasu made him the only foreign Samuri ever.

Sakoku (02:58)

When Jesuits supported a rival, Ieyasu expelled foreigners and prohibited Japanese from leaving. Japanese culture flourished under Sakoku, and Japan avoided the disease and war that Westerners spread elsewhere.

England's First Colony (02:21)

London's East India Company set up Britain's first colony at Run, challenging Dutch control of the nutmeg trade.

Dutch in Pacific (00:31)

Whereas Spanish imperial wealth went to the King to be wasted, Dutch merchants reinvested wealth in a navy and overtook the Spanish and Portuguese in the Pacific.

Battle over Banda Islands (03:36)

The English surrendered Run when the Dutch assassinated their leader, who was sneaking out on a small boat to meet Native Banda Islanders about alliance. Holland gave Britain Manhattan as consolation.

Cause of Tulip Mania (03:07)

Tulips with aberrational color patterns caused by a virus became status symbols for Holland's middle class. People bought tulip bulbs, hoping to get lucky, and a speculative bubble emerged.

Financial Instruments and Tulip Bubble (01:16)

At a party, one guest loaned another money to buy tulips, knowing that if she could not pay the money back, he would have tulips at old prices. He persuaded her to reject another guest's futures contract.

Tulip Bubble Pops (02:07)

An auctioneer offered tulips for the going rate but found no buyers. Panic buying instantly turned to panic selling.

Legacy of Tulip Bubble (00:38)

The tulip bubble popped, but Dutch capitalism went on and transformed the world economy. The Dutch dominate the tulip export trade to this day.

Credits: Age of Plunder: History of the World (00:30)

Credits: Age of Plunder: History of the World

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Age of Plunder: History of the World

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This episode reveals the explosion of global capitalism that began with Christopher Columbus stumbling across America while searching for China. The search for Gold and spread of Christianity caused Europeans to colonize the New World, discovering many new lands, such as that of the Incas in Peru. We visit Cajamarca, where the King Atahualpa was held captive by Pizarro and forced to convert to Christianity. At Amsterdam's tulip fields, we reflect on the first global stock market crash—Tulipmania. In the 145 years from 1492 to 1637, European capitalism was born and spread around the globe. A BBC/Discovery Channel/Open University Co-production. A part of the series History of the World.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: FMK57510

ISBN: 978-0-81609-408-0

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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