(A) Portgugese captain, in Spanish pay, Magellan, set out on the voyage to South America and across the Pacific that was to take his ship round the globe. Magellan was killed in the Philippines, but his chief officer brought his ship home round the Cape of Good Hope. The scattered civilisations of the world were being drawn together, and the new discoveries were to give the little kingdom in the northern sea fresh importance.I love the imagery of that phrase, as if there are invisible arms drawing the people of the world together. That proximity allowed deadly microbes to cross over into new continents. Smallpox in particular, laid waste to the American Indians.
In a way, it was an explorer we generally hold as innocent who wiped out the native populations of the New World. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it was just bound to happen. The microbes lived in Europe and at some point in time, someone was going to cross the Atlantic, whether they were Indians going east or Europeans heading west. When that contact occurred, the fate of the Indians was sealed.