ISSUE: 1/2006

  • Volume 37
  • Number 1
  • 2006


Studia Europejskie –
Studies in European Affairs

ISSN: 1428-149X
e-ISSN: 2719-3780

Ccbync License


Articles published in the journal are under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivatives 4.0 International License

Konkwistadorzy, misjonarze, kosmopolici. Europejczycy doby nowożytnej wobec reszty świata

Conquistadors, missionaries, cosmopolitans. Modern Europeans and „The Rest of the World”


In his famous letters addressed to Carol V, the Spanish king and the Roman-German emperor, a Spanish hidalgo, and a head of an expedition to Mexico, Hérnan Cortéz (1485-1547) describes the conquested country as the great and flourishing empire, sensible organized, well governed, and wealthy; the people as „rational and of a good organization”. „However they are barbarians, and far-away to the knowledge of the God, and to other intelligent nations – he adds – they have reached astoundingly high level in every area”. This opinion presented by the man whose name engraved on a posterity memory as the perpetrator of the extermination of Mexico Indians, seems to be worthy of notice. There are more historical problems and real riddles concerned the  conquest of Mexico by Cortéz (or the conquest of Peru by Pizarro): if the people of Mezoamerica had had reached so high civilization level, why their conquest was so rapid, and the future extermination so easy? And, even more important, how Cortéz, Pizarro and other conquistadors justified crimes they did or they permit to be done? The lecture presents different attitudes of European mind, shortly described by the Author as conquistadors, missionaries, cosmopolitans; it shows a future evolution of this attitudes, also. The 18th century explorers as James Cook (1728-1779), Louis Antoine de Bougainvilee (1729-1811) or a scientist Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798) probably where the first Europeans who understood that their travelling to Pacific Islands, and their relations to local people are in the reality a kind of „journeys to the Past”, for example to long-ago times of Trojan wars. Brilliantly comparing people of Tahiti with ancient Greeks, Forster showed not only his understanding to the relativity of historical processes, but also his consciousness of responsibility for a civilization which was discovered. Also captain James Cook, despite all the mistakes he made in his relations with Tahitians, was trying to save aborigines from a lethal influence of European culture, illnesses etc. He did not succeed in accomplishing his purpose, and his death in 1779 was a result of his conflicts with aborigene people.

Language: Polish

Pages: 9-22

How to Cite:


Cegielski, T. (2006) "Konkwistadorzy, misjonarze, kosmopolici. Europejczycy doby nowożytnej wobec reszty świata". Studia Europejskie – Studies in European Affairs, 1/2006, pp. 9-22.