The Spanish conquest of the Americas was one of the most dramatic cultural and biological transformations in the history of the world. Small groups of conquistadores toppled enormous empires. Millions of Native Americans died from epidemic disease. Old World animals and plants revolutionized Native American societies, while New World crops fundamentally altered the diet and land-tenure of peasants across Europe. In the words of historian Alfred Crosby (1972: 3), The two worlds, which God had cast asunder, were reunited, and the two worlds, which were so very different, began on that day [I1 October 14921 to become alike.
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