THE SPANISH CONQUISTADORS DBQ

 

Using the following, documents to analyze the Spanish motives for conquest during the Age of Expansion. How did these motives influence Spanish attitudes toward the people living in the New World?

  Document 1

 On the part of the king, subduer of barbarous nations, we notify and make known to you as best we can that the Lord our God, living and eternal created the heaven and earth and one man and one woman, of whom you and we and all the men of the world were and are descendants, as well as all those who come after us.

We ask that..... you acknowledge the Christian church as the ruler and superior of the whole world, and as superiors that you agree to let the Christian priests preach to you.

If you do so, you will do well....we will receive you in love and charity .... and shall leave you free without slavery (The Priests) shall not compel you to become Christians unless you yourself wish to be converted.

But if you do not do this .... we shall forcefully enter into your country and shall make war against you .... we shall take you and your wives and your children and shall make slaves of them .... we protest that the death and losses which shall result from this are your fault.

 Excerpts from a proclamation to be read in Spanish to Indians who were encountered. If the Indians did not agree to the terms, the Spanish considered them in defiance of the Spanish monarch.) 1512

 Document 2

 When some merchant friends of his heard that he had been made captain-general they lent him 4,000 pesos in coin, and another 4,000 in goods on the security of the Indians and land he owned. He then had two standards and banners made. They were worked in gold with the royal arms and a cross on each side and a legend that read:

"Brothers and comrades, let us follow the sign of the Holy Cross in true faith, for under this sign we shall conquer."

And he ordered a proclamation to be made to the sound of trumpets and drums, in the name of His Majesty and of himself as his captain-general, that anyone who wished to accompany him to the newly discovered lands, to conquer and settle, wou;ld receive a share of the gold, silver, and riches to be gained, and Indian slaves, once the country had been converted.

 A description of Cortez by Bernal Diaz ,1516

 Document 3

  We are engaging in a just and good war which will bring us fame. Almighty God, in whose name and faith it will be waged will give us victory. Here I offer you great rewards, although they will be wrapped about with great hardships. And if you do not abandon me, as I shall not abandon you. I shall make you in a very short time the richest of all men who have crossed the seas, and of all the armies that have here made war. You are few, I see, but such is your spirit that no effort or force of Indians will prevail against you. For we have seen by experience how God has favored the Spanish nation in the Americas, and how we have never lacked courage or strength, and never shall.
 A Speech made by Cortez to his men recalled years later by Cortez in a conversation

 Document 4

This great city contains many mosques, or houses for idols, very beautiful buildings situated in the different precincts. I overturned the idols in which these people believed the most and rolled them down the stairs. Then I had those places cleaned, for they were full of blood from the sacrifices. And I set up Christian images in them. This disturbed Montezuma and the natives a good deal. And they told me not to do it. They said that if it became known, the people would rise against me, as they believed that these idols gave them all their goods. If the people allowed them to be ill-treated, they would be angered and give nothing, and would take away the fruits of the soil and cause the people to die of want.

The figures of the idols exceed in size the body of a large man. They are made of all the seeds and vegetables which they eat, ground up and mixed with one another, and kept together with the heart's blood of human beings. When the statues are finished, the priests offer them more hearts, which have also been sacrificed, and smear the faces with the blood. The idols are dedicated to different things. To obtain favors in war these people have one idol, for harvests another, and for everything they desire they have special idols whom they honor and serve.

 Cortez describes his treatment of the Aztecs

  Document 5

  Informed of the arrival of Cortez and his victories and his intention to go to Mexico under the supposed reason of a conference, Montezuma sought all possible means to keep him from his plan. Failing in this, terrorized and filled with fear, he received him in the city with about 300 Spaniards. Cortez for his part, after taking possession of the city, forced the king and his subjects through terror to receive the yoke and rule of the King of Spain, but also imprisoned King Montezuma himself because of his suspicion that a plot was on foot to kill some Spaniards. This he could do because of the stupidity of the people. And thus Cortez, though aided by so small a number of Spaniards and so few natives, was able to hold them, oppressed and fearful at the beginning, for many days. Could there be a better or clearer testimony of the superiority that some men have over others in talent, skill, strength of spirit, and virtue? Is it not proof that the Indians are slaves by nature?

I have made reference to the customs and character of the barbarians. What shall I say now of the unholy religion and wicked sacrifices of such people, who believed that the best sacrifices to offer were hair and human hearts?

 Juan de Sepulveda argues about the treatment of the Aztecs

 Document 6

  Each Indian is to be given a house of his own for his family and a farm for cultivation and cattle raising. The Indians are to be persuaded to go about dressed like "reasonable" men. The Indians are to be persuaded to abandon their ancient evil ways, and they are not to bathe as frequently as before, as we are informed that it does them much harm.
 Royal Decree 1501 Ferdinand and Isabella

 Document 7

 From letters written in Mexico we have learned that Father Bernardino de Sahagun has composed a history of the most noteworthy things in New Spain. It is a large collection of all the rites, ceremonies, and idolatries practiced by the Indians when they were unbelievers of Christianity, divided into 12 volumes. Although it is understood that the zeal of Father Bernardino has been noteworthy, and that his intention was for the book to bear wholesome fruit, it seems that it is not proper that this book be published for several reasons. We thus command that, upon receiving this notice, you obtain these books with great care, and that you make sure that no original or copy of them is left there, and that you have them sent in good hands at the first opportunity to the Spanish authorities in order that they may be examined,. And you are warned absolutely not to allow any person to write concerning the superstitions and ways of life of these Indians in any language.
 Royal Decree of Charles I

 

  Document 8

 God so loved the human race that He created man that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but also in the capacity to seek the Supreme Good and behold it face to face. And since man, according to the testimony of the Sacred Scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature which allows him to receive that faith. For in the office "Go ye, and teach all nations," He said all, without exception; for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith. The enemy of the human race, the devil, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God's word to the people. He inspired his followers to claim that the Indians should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic faith.

We consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic faith but, according to our information, they desire to receive it. We declare that the Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ. And that they may and should, freely and legally, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property. Nor should they be in any way enslaved.

We define and declare that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.

 Papal Decree 1537

 

 Document 9

 All the wars called conquests were and are most unjust and truly tyrannical. We have taken over all the kingdoms of New Spain.Our king, with all the power God gave him, cannot justify the wars and robberies against the Indians.

All the gold and silver, pearls and other riches, brought to Spain and traded among Spaniards in the New World--all is stolen, save perhaps a very little that came from the islands and places we have already depopulated.

Those who stole it and today steal it by conquests cannot be saved unless they restore it.

The natives in any or all the areas we have invaded in the New World have acquired the right to make just war upon us and erase us from the face of the earth, and this right will last until the Day of Judgment.

By all reasoning, the Indians--who never harmed nor were subject to Christians--freely possess and rule their own lands, and no one can make just war upon them.

From the beginning until now, Spain's entire invasion of the New World has been wrong and tyrannical. And from 1510 on, no Spaniard there can claim good faith as an excuse for wars, discoveries, or the slave trade.

 Bartolomeo de las Casas

NOTE

In 1542 all Indians inhabiting Spanish controlled lands in the New World were made wards of the state and were placed under the protection of the King.