Conquistadors of the Spirit
OCTOBER, 2011
HISTORY 429, HISPANIC FRONTIER IN
NORTH AMERICA
The Orders of the Catholic Church
 Augustinians
 Franciscans
 Dominicans
 Jesuits
St Francis
1235
Tempera on wood
Church of San Francesco, Pescia
Franciscans
 First Franciscan came with Columbus on his Second
Voyage.
 Accompanied expeditions such as those of Pánfilo de
Narváez, Hernando de Soto, and Francisco Vázquez
de Coronado, with the ideal “that the conquest be a
Christian apostolic one and not a butchery.” (p. 94,
Weber, text).
 Possessed, like other orders, but especially powerful
among Franciscans, a Millenarian vision of the
world.
Dominicans
Antonio de
Montesinos, Statue,
Santo Domingo,
Dominican Republic
Saint Dominic (Spanish: Domingo), also known as
Dominic of Osma, often called Dominic de
Guzmán and Domingo de Guzmán Garcés (1170
– August 6, 1221) was the founder of the Friars
Preachers, popularly called the Dominicans or Order of
Preachers (OP), a Catholic religious order. Dominic is
the patron saint of astronomers and the Dominican
Republic.
Jesuits
 St. Ignatius Loyola and the Society of Jesus
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Spanish: Ignacio
López de Loyola) (October 23, 1491 – July 31,
1556) was the principal founder and first Superior
General of the Society of Jesus.[2]
The compiler of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius
was described by Pope Benedict XVI as being
above all a man of God, who gave the first place of
his life to God, and a man of profound prayer.[3]
He was very active in fighting the Protestant
Reformation and promoting the subsequent
Counter-Reformation.
Early Approaches by Franciscans and
Dominicans, 1
 Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon expedition to the
Georgia/Carolina coast 1526 carried with it
Dominicans, including the famous Antonio de
Montesinos, killed by Indians a few years later in
Venezuela.
 Francisco Coronado’s expedition north from Mexico
in 1539 carried with it six Franciscans, two of whom
were left behind in 1542 when the expedition
returned to Mexico. Both became martyrs to the
Pueblo Indians.
Early Approaches by Franciscans and
Dominicans, 2
 De Soto’s expedition carried several priests, but the
brutality of the entrada undermined any attempts to
evangelize and convert.
Postcard view of First Mass at St. Augustine
Jesuits in the Settlement of Florida
 Jesuits, led by Juan Baptista de Segura, led a mission
to the Chesapeake Bay region in 1570 (from Santa
Elena) and actually planted a mission very close to
where the English placed Jamestown decades later.
 Jesuits hoped to convert the Algonquin, but “chafing
from Jesuit insults to their religion and culture, a
group of natives…put the outsiders to death.” (p. 72)
 [Great image on p. 73 of text; see next page]
Successes and Failures in Florida, 1
 Early fortifications established by Menendez, with
friars appointed to them, were destroyed. In 1568, a
French privateer destroyed San Mateo built on site of
French Fort Caroline, sacked by Menendez. Spanish
survivors all hanged.
 Small settlements est. by Menendez at Tampa and
Biscayne Bay destroyed by Indians.
 St. Augustine barely survived.
 After the Chesapeake Bay disaster, Jesuits
abandoned Florida entirely!
Successes and Failures in Florida, 2
 While Menendez tried to fulfill his orders, which
included “the good treatment and conversion to our
Holy Catholic Faith of the natives,” he was
undermined by the unruly behavior of the soldiers
and the missionary Franciscans who insulated local
Calusa Indian beliefs and practices.
 Menendez even “married” the ugly daughter of one
of the chiefs!
 Menendez died in 1574 and with his death much of
the energy to sustain and maintain the colony.
Successes and Failures in Florida, 3
 Santa Elena had been abandoned in 1576 and St.
Augustine was almost abandoned in 1608, but
Franciscan missionaries persuaded him that that
would mean abandoning Indian converts, all this,
and in New Mexico, supported by the Crown.
Royal Orders for New Discoveries of 1573
 With the effective end of the Conquest, mendicant
missionaries were sent further into the exploration
and pacification of new lands, “preaching the
gospel…is the principal purpose for which we order
new discoveries and settlements to be made.” (p. 95)
Royal Orders prohibited conquest or violence against
Indians for any purpose.
 Franciscans, Dominicans and others were displaced
in the more heavily settled Indies—Mexico and
Peru—by the secular, diocesan clergy.
Franciscans on the Spanish Frontier
 In 1573 Franciscans began sustained missionary
work in Florida, and by 1598 Franciscans returned to
New Mexico with Juan de Oñate.
 With the exception of Jesuit missions among the
Pimas into southern Arizona, the Franciscans
monopolized missionary work for the next three
centuries in North America, from Florida to
California.
Franciscans in New Mexico
Papal Bull of 1537, Sublimis Deus
 “Indians are truly men capable of understanding the
Catholic faith” became a cornerstone of Franciscan
theological approach to the Indians of the frontier.
Sublimis Deus may in fact have been based on a book
written by B. de Las Casas, The Only Way, but that
for another book.
A Terrestrial Paradise
 Franciscans not only wished to save souls, but to
transform or reshape natives’ cultures.
 When basically expelled from central Mexico and
replaced by diocesan Church, they turned to the
frontier to realize their “terrestrial paradise.”
Franciscan Movements into Florida and New
Mexico
 Franciscans began in earnest in Florida in 1573 and
back into New Mexico among the Pueblos after 1581,
and especially after 1598 with Juan de Oñate,
building missions and “civilizing” the natives.
 Without heavy secular competition in the North
American frontier, or members of other religious
orders, and with support from the Crown, it seemed
an ideal setting.
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History”
 In a book edited with contributions by Erick Langer
and Robert H. Jackson, they explored The New
Latin American Mission History (Lincoln, Nebraska
1995).
 The basic element is a restructuring of the focus, off
the missionaries and, instead, on the Indians, which
gives a sometimes rather critical view of the
missions, as opposed to the one developed several
generations ago by Herbert E. Bolton and his
students.
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History” 2
 As they stated in their introduction, “ a change in the
writing of mission history began only in the 1980s…a
new generation of scholars has redefined the study of
the missions, giving more attention to the Indian
perspective of mission life, the larger political and
economic context of colonial and republican
missions, and the impact of mission life on converts.”
(p. xi)
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History” 3
 David Sweet’s “The Ibero-American Frontier Mission
in Native American History” is immensely useful in
framing the argument.
 Bolton’s argument was the missions’ goals were to
convert, to civilize, and to exploit the Indian
population. Bolton emphasized the “civilizing”
function of the missions. This meant teaching the
Indians how to be good vassals, how to work and be
productive, and thus support the missions.
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History” 4
 Bolton envisioned Spanish colonial policy as
humanitarian, and the “essence of the mission was
discipline—religious, moral, social, and industrial,
which it afforded.” (p. 5) Soldiers in frontier
presidios attached to the missions often supplied
much of the discipline to maintain order and
obedience.
 After a brief analysis of Bolton’s argument—”he
admired the frontier mission for having spread the
faith and taught the Indians good manners, the
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History”5
 Rudiments of European crafts, agriculture and even
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self-government,” then Sweet turns to “Reframing
the Discussion.” (pp. 6-7)
Here are the main points (pp. 11 ff) under the general
title of “Indian life in the frontier missions: elements
of constraint” (this is not a pretty list!)
Disease and chronic illness
Malnutrition
Regimentation
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History” 6
 Discipline and Punishment
 Deculturation
 Infantilization
 Alienation from nature
 On the other hand, there were some elements of
opportunity for Indians in the frontier missions:
 Survival
 New tools, cultigens and techniques
 New forms of community
A Pause, to consider the “New Mission History” 7
 Appropriation of Christianity
 Resistance
More on Missionary Realities, 1
 What were some of the advantages the Franciscans enjoyed in
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North America? Think govt. subsidies, less competition, and
Royal Orders of 1573.
How did the governers and soldiers demonstrate dramatically
and publicly that the friars were exceedingly important in
Spanish culture and religion?
Alonso de Benavides wrote much of the Franciscans in New
Mexico. Did he attribute anything to divine intercession?
What were some of the examples?
Who was the "Lady in Blue?" How do YOU judge these
appearances and miracles?
Where, generally, were the Franciscan missions located in
Florida in the seventeenth century? Were they large missions?
If not, describe some of their salient features.
More on Missionary Realities, 2
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Useful quote: "On the southern fringes of seventeenth-century North
America, then, a small number of Spanish preachers--seldom exceeding
fifty at a time in either Florida or New Mexico--made rapid inroads into the
communal and individual lives of large numbers of natives." (Weber, p.
105)
Another one: "Christian doctrine and social behaviour were inextricably
linked in the minds of Spaniards, who had also sought to make converts
from Islam dress, cook, eat, walk, and talk like Spaniards." Ibid. What
would we call this today? Cultural imperialism? Brain washing?
Why did the Franciscans feel they had to deal a "body blow at the whole
structure of native society?" (p. 106)
Did Franciscans search for martyrdom?
What were some of the more practical strategies in the cultural and
spiritual transformation of the native Americans that the Franciscans
employed? You might wish to think of gifts, conversions, moving about,
native leaders, children, linguistics, bilingual texts, Castilian, for example.
More on Missionary Realities, 3
 Another quote with some spice: "...a Pueblo Indian had asked 'if we
who are Christians caused so much harm and violence, why should
they become Christians?'" Why indeed?
 How often did the caravans or iron-tired wagons replenish the
missions of New Mexico with goods and wares from New Spain?
What about the case of Florida?
 Once converts were made freely, and baptism administered, did the
Franciscans use any type of coercion to ensure orthodox behaviour?
Think stocks, incarceration, and whipping for starters. Add
smashing, burning and confiscating objects sacred to the natives.
 Interesting quote #4 (?): "Until the end of the Spanish era in North
America, the padres defended the practice of flogging disobedient
Indians, and to atone for their sins they whipped themselves as well.
'You Christians are so crazy...flogging yourselves like crazy people in
the streets, shedding blood...." Weber, p. 113.
More on Missionary Realities, 4
 On what grounds did Franciscans defend corporal
punishment and force? Think, for starters, rescuing
brutes from barbarism, preventing individuals from
infecting the community, saving their own souls by
preventing sins.
 Why did many natives welcome the missionaries?
Defense against predatory Indians or Spaniards perhaps?
Access to Spanish trade and gifts? Access to awesome
spiritual power?
 How did disease figure in the latter power the first
Franciscans seemed able to invoke over the natives? Did
sexual abstinence--such as practiced by the Franciscans-seem to convey some power?
More on Missionary Realities, 5
 Did the natives synthesize or syncretize their native religions and
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Christian ritual and images? Or were they kept by and large
separate, instead adopting one set, but keeping the other in tact?
How were the native cultures transformed in other ways? Think
nutritional value of foods, European crops, diet, polygamy.
How did some Indians turn on the missionary fathers? Mice meat,
urine, and corn tortillas?
In the end, did the Spaniards successfully Hispanicize and
Christianize the Indians?
"Whatever their spiritual successes, then, missionaries failed to
advance permanently, defend effectively, or Hispanicize deeply
North American frontiers in the seventeenth century." Weber, p.
121.
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