The Spiritual Conquest of the New World

The Spiritual Conquest of the
New World
Introduction: The Spanish
Reconquest and Militant
Roman and
Visigothic Spain
Moorish Invasion, 7
11 A.D.
Commencement of
To Granada, 1492
The Origins of Christianity in the
New World
Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Searching for Sea Route to the East (see
maps next slide)
Struck the Americas Instead
Set the Stage for the Spanish Conquest
The Caribbean
Sea, islands and
mainlands where
Catholicism first
Isabella the
Bulls of Pope Alexander VI,
May, 1493
“The Papal donation”
[to next page]
La primera bula «Inter coetera» de Alejandro VI(1)
3 de mayo de 1493
El documento cuya traducción damos a continuación ha tenido un peso
notabilísimo en la historia de la presencia de España en América. El mismo
sirvió durante mucho tiempo como base jurídica del dominio español sobre las
tierras descubiertas por Cristóbal Colón en 1492 e impropiamente llamadas "las
Indias". El Sumo Pontífice, después de alabar el celo apostólico de los reyes
Fernando de Aragón e Isabel de Castilla, su deseo de extender la fe católica,
deseo que había quedado patente con la entonces reciente recuperación del
reino de Granada de manos de los árabes, reconoce finalmente el papel
fundamental que les ha cabido en la empresa colombina; atendiendo pues a
todos estos antecedentes y haciendo uso de la "plenitud de la autoridad
apostólica" resuelve donar y conceder las tierras recientemente descubiertas y
las que en el futuro se descubrieran a los reyes Isabel y Fernando y a sus
legítimos sucesores en las coronas de Castilla y Aragón, imponiéndoles al mismo
tiempo la obligación de evangelizar a los pobladores de dichas tierras.
Mucho se ha discutido sobre el fundamento jurídico en el que se apoyó el papa
Borja para hacer semejante "donación", algunos autores quieren ver en este
documento un exponente preclaro del monismo hierocrático, mientras que otros
ven en él un simple mandato misionero(2). Lo que parece incontrovertible es
que los reyes españoles solicitaron este documento a la Sede Apostólica con la
finalidad de resguardar a los territorios recientemente descubiertos, de las
posibles pretensiones de otros príncipes cristianos(3).
Treaty of Tordesillas
[go to link]
In the meantime, Spaniards and
The Encomienda
"The natives, finding themselves
intolerably oppressed and overworked,
with no chance of regaining their liberty,
with sighs and tears longed for death.
Many went into the woods and having
killed their children, hanged themselves,
saying it was far better to die than to live
so miserably serving such ferocious
tyrants and villainous thieves... finally, out
of two million inhabitants, through suicides
and other deaths occasioned by the
excessive labour and cruelties imposed by
the Spanish, there are not a hundred and
fifty now to be found."
Theodore De Bry included a graphic
engraving with this text, illustrating the
various methods of suicide, from hanging
to clubbing children to death to selfmutilation. Such images, along with other
evidence such as Las Casa's Brief
Account of the Destruction of the Indies
Origins of the Black Legend
The Sermon of Father
Antonio de Montesinos,
Montesinos in His Own Words
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, 1511--"I am the voice of
one crying in the wilderness...You are in mortal sin and
live and die in it because of the cruelty and tyranny
that you use against these innocent peoples. Tell me,
by what right, with what justice do you hold these
Indians in such cruel and horrible servitude? On what
authority have you waged such detestable wars on
these peoples, in their mild and peaceful lands, where
you have consumed such infinitudes of them,
wreaking upon them this death and unheard-of
havoc?....And what care do you take that anyone
catechize them, so that they may come to know their
God and Creator, be baptized, hear Mass, observe
Sundays and Holy Days? Are they not human beings?
Have they no rational souls? Are you not obligated to
love them as you love yourselves? Do you not
understand this?...How is it that you sleep so soundly,
so lethargically?"
The Epiphany of Bartolomé de las
Cuba, 1514
 Massacre at the
River Caonao
Early Christianization of the
Indies (Part 1)
The regular orders: Franciscans,
Dominicans, Augustinians
 Secular clergy
 Christianization as the context for
conquest and colonization, no matter
how contrived and hypocritical in some
 Syncretic forms of Christianity
Church of Santo Domingo,
Cuzco, Peru
Due to the significant participation of the Dominicans in the conquest of Peru, the Spaniards
couldn't have chosen a better place to build the church of the order than over the base of the
most important monument of the Tawantinsuyo: the Koricancha, which is the largest Indian
temple to worship the Sun.
According to the chronicles, it was one of the most magnificent constructions of the Incan
Cusco. In the inner part, the precincts' walls, made of finely polished stone, were entirely
covered with gold and silver sheets, idols and the representation of the sun.
After receiving the old temple's plot during the lots distribution that took place in October 1534,
Juan Pizarro, brother of the conqueror, ceded it to the Dominican congregation. The first prior
of the convent was Friar Juan de Olías, who occupied this cloister together with a group of
Mexican missionaries. [next page for image]
Another Form of Syncretism,
The Revelations
exhibition includes
paintings depicting the
colonial caste system,
which described the
complex racial mixing of
the people of Latin
America. Above, De
Mestizo y de India,
Coyote — or "A mestizo
and an Indian woman
produce a coyote" —
1763, Mexico.
Christianity in Spanish Colonial
Real Patronato, or Royal Patronage
 Missionary orders vs. secular clergy
 Syncretism (already mentioned)
 All layers of culture and society imbued
with Christianity
 Charity/Philanthropy (cont. with next slide)
Christianity in Spanish Colonial
America, 2
Church leading financial institution
Expansion of monastic life across urban Latin
Control of wealth, haciendas, Jesuits,
Paraguay, Mexico for example
Beginnings of loss of prestige and power in
eighteenth century
Christianity in Spanish Colonial
America, 3
Expulsion of the Jesuits, mid-eighteenth
 Presence of missionaries as frontier
institutions in North America, those lands
that later passed to the United States.
 Frontier society and competition for
Indian loyalties by Europeans, etc.
 To the Wars of Independence