Some of the earliest explorers of the New World were missionaries. French Jesuits and Spanish padres explored the breadth of the Americas seeking to spread Christianity to the untutored natives. The missionaries were most successful among the natives of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies (perhaps because those states were more willing to back up the missionaries' words with guns and cannon). The native Christians often blended Christianity with their traditional beliefs, so that the resulting religion was unlike Christianity anywhere else on Earth. Christianized natives were often given a higher standing in colonial society than their heathen brethren: some managed to assimilate almost completely into their new societies.