Compare and contrast the ways in which the Spanish and the French explored and settled the New World.

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were similarities and differences between the French and the Spanish explorations and settlements of the New World. Both France and Spain were interested in expanding their empires. One way to do this was to establish settlements in the New World. Both countries established settlements in the New World. Both countries also looked to make profits from their presence in the New World. The French profited with the lucrative fur trade, while the Spanish took lots of minerals, such as gold and silver, from their settlements.

There were some differences between the settlements and the explorations of Spain and France. For the most part, France developed a very good relationship with most Native American tribes. They made an effort to coexist peacefully with the tribes who were already living there and made it known they weren’t interested in taking their land. The Spanish didn’t view the Native Americans in a very positive light. The Spanish viewed the Native Americans as inferior and treated them accordingly. Additionally, the French settlements grew much more slowly than the Spanish settlements. The French only allowed nobles to own land, and only Christians were allowed to come and settle in the French lands. The French colonists had few freedoms. The Spanish had many large settlements that were developed with cathedrals and universities existing.

There were similarities and differences between the French and the Spanish explorations and settlements of the New World.

jrwilliams4321 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short, there are many similarities in the way the French and Spanish approached the new world.  Both desired territory, wealth and power. However, the differences between the two are stark in two areas in particular.  First, the treatment of the native peoples.  The French by and large took a more friendly approach to Native Americans.  Many French frontiersmen married natives for example.  On the other hand, the Spanish took a "conquistodor" attitude toward the natives... enslaving, destroying, and imprisoning thousands.  Another standout difference between the French and Spanish was how they acquired their wealth... this is based largely on where they settled in the new world.  The spanish, of course, went after gold and other precious metals through mining in the vast territories they conquered.  The French, meanwhile, were in the northern territories (Canada) and enriched themselves in the fur trade.