Spanish control of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan: In 1519, Hernan Cortes led a Spanish expedition to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan and defeated the great empire with not many soldiers. The factor for this victory by the Spanish expedition of Hernan Cortes was the smallpox epidemic in Tenochtitlan as well as the Gun Power of the Spanish. Soon after the Spanish arrived in Tenochtitlan, a smallpox epidemic broke out in the city that killed and weakened the Aztec army. With their superior gun power, the Spanish were able to take control of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
Francisco Pizarro: Francisco Pizarro attacked and defeated the Inca.
Spanish control of Mesoamerica & South America: With the fall of the Inca and the Aztec, the Spanish gained a total control of Mesoamerica and South America, except Brazil, which continued to be under the control of the Portuguese because of the Treaty of Tordesillas.
Ferdinand Magellan: Between 1519 and 1522, Ferdinand Magellan found the southern tip of South America and sailed west across the Pacific.
French & English Voyages: The French made voyages to and made settlements in the St. Lawrence River area through Canada and in the Mississippi River valley south at the Gulf of Mexico. The English settled along the eastern seacoast in North America.
Great Circuit: The routes of trade followed by the Spanish, Portuguese, the French and the English in the Atlantic Ocean were known as the Great Circuit. The Great circuit connected the 4 continents of Europe, Africa, North America and South America.