During the Little Ice Age (ca. 1400–1850), dramatic global climate change occurred, with temperatures declining precipitously. The date for the onset of this shift was once thought to be 1550, but new evidence shows that it had already begun as early as 1150 and became severe enough in northern latitudes to cause significant population shifts as early as the mid-fourteenth century. At its height, growing seasons in the northern regions of North America and Europe were shortened by as much as 20 percent, leading to frequent crop failures and...
Hopewell culture, a prehistoric American Indian culture of mound builders in east-central North America, prospered ca. 500–1000. Named for a farm in southern Ohio where related artifacts were discovered, Hopewell culture developed along waterways and relied upon agriculture as well as hunting and gathering.
In 1550–1551, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda debated in a junta at the Council of Valladolid. At the center of the debate was the question of the American Indians’ place in Spanish America. The Council sided with Las Casas, who argued for the Indians’ humanity and rights as well as for their peaceful Christianization and ruled that they were human beings with souls, but the Council’s ruling had little impact on Spanish treatment of the Native Americans.
The first British colony, granted to Sir Walter Raleigh, was established on Roanoke Island. Most settlers returned to England in 1586, however, under threat of a Spanish raid. A few settlers remained to defend the settlement, but none survived.