The Spanish conquistador’s arrival in the New World is certainly one of history’s most widely known events. The conquest of the resource-filled lands of America and the Caribbean set forth a new era for humanity, one driven by newly devised political, economic and social structures introduced to assure the submission of the native inhabitants of the discovered lands. Although the process of colonization served as the foundation for the New World’s subsequent modernization into what it is today, the forceful shift into European culture brought upon the natives a reign of terror. Therefore, further research into the Spaniards establishment in the New World, in a way, attests to a new perspective of human nature. Bartolome de Las Casas, author of A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, a chronicle of the atrocities that took place at the hands of Spaniards during the colonization process, reveals conquistadors as individuals who were, primarily, greed driven beings. His detailed account of the Spanish conquest exposes the atrocious truth behind the grandeur of the Spanish Empire from the late 15th century onward, one that can be said is directly entwined with the abuse and carnage of native Indians all for the sake of increasing their power through the acquisition of riches at stake of the colonies well-being. The notoriety of Las Casas’s A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies lies in the fact that it contains realistic events witnessed by Las Casas
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Matthew Restall, a Professor of Latin American History, Women’s Studies, and Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. He also serves the Director of the university’s Latin Studies. Throughout “Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest,” he discusses many false truths that have been passed down through history. For instance, he discusses, “The Myth of Exceptional Men.” “The Myth of Spanish Army,” and “The Myth of Completion.” For the sake of time, I will discuss three myths that correlate with class lectures and serve as the topic of this paper, “The Myth of Exceptional Men,” “The Myth of the King’s Army,” and the “Myth of the White Conquistador.” It should be noted that Restall speaks to his audience assuring us that his “...his purpose is not to degenerate this technique of historical writing completely...Nor do I mean to create a narrative in which individual action is utterly subordinated to the larger structural forces and causes of social change.” (4). He states that his intentions are to react to more than just the works of Columbus, Pizzaro, and Cortez.
This section highlights that history has created a false narrative depicting the natives as a victimized people, which they were to some extent but only in the fashion that they did not possess the same technology for warfare, immunity of communal diseases transmitted, and they were not anticipating combat. All other factors considered, the natives stood to be a potential threat. In regards to knowledge obtained by Spaniards prior to arrival and knowledge gained from observation, it would be remiss had they not prepared for battle. This argument is not to be misconstrued in approving their actions; I do recognize colonization as an evil for both the reasons employed and its damaging effects, but rather to change the narrative surrounding that of the native people. While they did experience a tragedy, I feel that it is erroneous to write them into history as being incompetent resulting from their
Convinced of the superiority of Catholicism to all other religions, Spain insisted that the primary goal of colonization was to save the Indians from heathenism and prevent them from falling under the sway of Protestantism. The aim was neither to exterminate nor to remove the Indians, but to transform them into obedient Christian subjects of the crown. To the Spanish colonizers, the large native populations of the Americas were not only souls to be saved but also a labor force to be organized to extract gold and silver that would enrich their mother country. Las Casas’ writings and the abuses they exposed contributed to the spread of the Black Legend-the image of Spain as a uniquely brutal and exploitative colonizer. This would provide of a potent justification for other European powers to challenge Spain’s predominance in the New World.
For decades, the history of Latin America has been shrouded in a cover of Spanish glory and myth that misleads and complicates the views of historians everywhere. Myths such as the relationship between natives and conquistadors, and the individuality of the conquistadors themselves stand as only a few examples of how this history may have become broken and distorted. However, in Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest Matthew Restall goes to great lengths to dispel these myths and provide a more accurate history of Latin American, in a readable and enjoyable book.
In A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, Bartolomé de Las Casas vividly describes the brutality wrought on the natives in the Americas by the Europeans primarily for the purpose of proclaiming and spreading the Christian faith. Las Casas originally intended this account to reach the royal administration of Spain; however, it soon found its way into the hands of many international readers, especially after translation. Bartolomé de Las Casas illustrates an extremely graphic and grim reality to his readers using literary methods such as characterization, imagery, amplification, authorial intrusion and the invocation of providence while trying to appeal to the sympathies of his audience about such atrocities.
“Victors and Vanquished,” through excerpts of Bernal Diaz del Castillo The True History of the Conquest of New Spain and indigenous testimonies from the Florentine Codex, represents the clash between European and indigenous cultures and how there was no simple “European” or “indigenous” view. Rather, there were a variety of European and indigenous opinions and interpretations that were influenced by personal interests, social hierarchy and classes, ethnic biases and political considerations.
Spain sought out to colonize the New World and, most importantly, influence Christianity. This writing is historically significant because it validates the interactions of the aggressive Christians doing and the innocent Indians, which is eventually revealed to the Spanish public. Certain use of pathos in Cabeza de Vaca’s perspective is the most persuasive tool in his journal. His own experience in land where he too was enslaved, like how the Indians were to the Spanish, justifies his own thoughts and empathy for the victims. His accounts as a witness prompt readers to believe his word. Cabeza de Vaca’s insight onto how the foreigners treated the natives and why they were inclines to retaliate, was intended to reveal the truth. This line stated directly to his audience explains his betrayal, lastly exposing the Spanish men: “This clearly shows how the design of men sometimes miscarry. We went on with the idea of insuring the liberty of the Indians…when we believed it to be
For this essay I will be talking about the book “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolomé de Las Casas. Whom wrote this to the King of Spain, Prince Philip II, in 1542 to protest what was happening in the New World to the native people. I will be explaining many things during this essay. The first thing I will go over is what the books tells us about the relationship between Christianity and the colonialism. The second thing I will talk about is if it was enough to denounce the atrocities against indigenous people. Next, if it is possible to
The Conquest of Mexico and the conversion of the peoples of New Spain can and should be included among the histories of the world, not only because it was well done but because it was very great. . . . Long live, then, the name and memory of him [Cortés] who conquered so vast a land, converted such a multitude of men, cast down so many men, cast down so many men, cast down so many idols, and put an end to so much sacrifice and the eating of human flesh! —Francisco López de Gómara (1552)
From Reséndez’s foundation of European enslavement and its far-reaching impact on Native American populations, Reséndez examined racial components in the southwest. It is impossible to separate racial tension from the study of Indian slavery. Christopher Columbus’s journals as contemporary letters show the Spanish perception of
One of the weaknesses of this book was the way in which a strong opinion of the author frequently came to the surface. The impression given when reading was one of bias in that the Spanish were wrong to come in and refine everything. This was reflected in the fact that periodically within the book, when the Spanish conquistadors did something to the Indians, it was pointed out how inhumane it was. Yet, when the Indians retaliated in some way, it was quickly pointed out how justified they were. The mentioned advantages that the Indians gained through the Spaniards were infrequent and underdeveloped.
In the 16th century Spaniards Herman Cortes and Christopher Columbus set out on endeavoring journeys in search of new worlds. Christopher Columbus encountered, in the Caribbean islands, a group of extremely simplistic Native Americans. Herman Cortes however encountered a much more advanced Native American group in Meso America; we formally know this area to be Mexico. In my essay I will be comparing and contrasting several aspects between both of these Native American Civilizations including sophistication, technology, housing, weapons, religion and their reaction to the Spaniards. Letters written by Columbus and Cortes will be used to make these comparisons.
As a new and mysterious world awaits to be discovered, daring conquistadors leave their home country of Spain in a journey of exploration. Two men by the name of Narvaez and Cabeza de Vaca set sail to thwart the untrustworthy Cortez who, behind the backs of Narvaez and Cabeza de Vaca, sailed to the New World with half of Narvaez’s crew in search of treasures. However, the journey would prove to be treacherous as the conquistadors would have to encounter hostile Native Americans and strange terrain they have never seen before. Throughout the expedition, future encounters between the Native Americans and conquistadors were heavily influenced by the personalities of the individuals and past experiences the Native Americans faced.
The greed for gold and the race for El Dorado were the main inducements of the Spaniards who, at the peril of their lives, crossed the ocean in unfit vessels in a mad pursuit after the gold and all other precious property of the Indians” (Peace 479). The royal rulers of Spain made it a rule that nothing would jeopardize their ability to rob the land from the native people of Latin America. The missionary process, “had to be encouraged, but the missionaries could not be permitted to dominate the colony at the cost of royal rule” (Gibson 76). The European governments established missionaries to cleanse their minds of any guilt aroused by the slaughtering of innocent men, women, and children. When European “ships arrived in the 16th century to colonize the land and exploit its natural resources, they killed indigenous people and brought black slaves from Africa. Millions of indigenous people were slain and their cultures completely destroyed by the process of colonization” (Ribero). The overall devastations caused by the Christianization of the native inhabitants created a blend of cultures within the indigenous civilizations which gradually isolated old native ways into a small population of oppressed people. The Christianized people became a symbol of loyalty to the European powers and were left alone simply on their religious status. This long term mission of total religious replacement caused very strong and advanced
The process of colonization in the Americas was a complex and complicated series of events, each driven by the varied interests of an array of European empires. For some, the Americas were a world of untold riches, while for others, this discovery allowed for missionary efforts to convert Native Americans to their faith. Regardless of the reason, violence against the many Native Americans who inhabited this “new land” was a common colonization tool to achieve these means. Direct violence is the most well-known approach, one that Spain wielded so effectively that the Black Legend was created to attest to their cruelty. Yet, the violence used was not all direct in nature. Cultural violence, which England employed itself, was used just as often. Overall, though the Black Legend has led to Spain being viewed as the most violent colonizer in the Americas, England’s use of indirect violence through engagement in the fur trade and missionary efforts was just as destructive to Native Americans.