Spain was considered to have as three main goals behind its expeditions to North America: the expansion of its empire, the attainment of wealth, and the spread of Christianity.
It is easily forgotten that monarchies were not possessed of endless wealth. True, kings and queens had considerable financial assets, but the costs of empire were enormous, and identifying and securing sources of revenue to pay for those empires drove these rulers to finance expeditions to unknown territories. In this sense, the goals of expanding empire and attaining wealth were closely linked. Spain’s was a powerful empire, but Spanish rulers were always wary of encroachment from the rival British and French monarchs.
There was a competition for riches, and those riches came from newly conquered territories. Chief among the natural resources sought by the Spanish was gold, and a major goal of Spain was then securing new sources of that most precious of metals. It was, in a sense, a self-perpetuating cycle of...
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