But other colonial powers also claimed this for themselves.
In world history, no continent has possessed so many different forms of colonies and none has so incomparably defined access to the world by means of a civilising mission as a secular programme as did modern partitioned the world by signing the Treaty of Tordesillas on 7 June 1494, they declared a genuine European claim to hegemony.
A similar claim was never staked out in this form by a world empire of Antiquity or a non-European colonial power in the modern period, such as before the Spaniards arrived is indeed structurally comparable to modern European expansion.
Transfer processes within Europe and in the colonies show that not only genuine colonial powers such as Spain and England, but also "latecomers" such as Germany participated in the historical process of colonial expansion with which Europe decisively shaped world history.
In turn, this process also clearly shaped Europe itself.
It is characteristic that the impetus for colonialism was often derived as an answer to European history itself.
This includes capitalist striving for profit, the colonies as valves for overpopulation, the spirit of exploration, scientific interest, and religious and ideological impulses up to Social-Darwinistic and racist motives.
However, that the colonies became an integral part of the mother country, that therefore the colonial nation is indivisible, at home on several continents and, thus, incapable of doing any fundamental evil, can be shown to be part of the European colonial ideology since its earliest beginnings.
Intellectual transfer processes had already taken place at this time, in the Age of Enlightenment most noticeably in the mutual influence of Adam Smith (1723–1790), Denis Diderot (1713–1784), Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) and their contemporaries.
This even extended to the programmes of rulers' titles.