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Home > History > Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - Religious Conversions

Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - Religious Conversions

This page describes the process in which explorers and their crews tried to convert Natives they encountered to Christianity.

Converting to Christianity


One of the goals of most explorers in the New World was to spread the Christian faith and to eradicate the "pagans" and "idols" worshipped by indigenous peoples of the Pacific islands. Kings, queens, and explorers alike believed it was their divine duty to convert indigenous people to Christianity in order to save their souls. In deed some explorers, such as Ferdinand Magellan, believed they were an instrument of God in this endeavor. Many native peoples, in awe of the magnitude and power of Spanish fleets, or, told that conversion would make their armies undefeatable, more willingly converted and watched as large crosses were erected on the highest point of the their island. Men, women, and children were baptized and swore allegiance to Jesus Christ and the monarch currently in power. Others were forcibly converted to Christianity, and those who resisted were killed or had their villages burned down. Magellan himself was killed in the Philippines by Mactan warriors in 1521 after burning a village to the ground when they refused to convert.


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