encomienda system

Encomienda, in Spain’s American and Philippine colonies, legal system by which the Spanish crown attempted to define the status of the indigenous population.

The encomenderos had lobbied for years for the encomiendas to be made permanent and passable from one generation to another, something the King had always resisted.

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In this arrangement, a grant was conferred by the monarch to soldiers, officials, and other Spaniards who had played a major role in a conquest, giving each a control over all natives that lived in a specific region.

In the Americas, the first encomiendas were handed out by Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean.

The settlers rallied around Gonzalo Pizarro, one of the leaders of the original conquest of the Inca Empire and brother of Francisco Pizarro. Here is more about the significance of the encomienda system.

It is also credited with preventing an outright revolt by the natives against their colonial masters.

These lands were often quite vast. The encomienda system was one of the many horrors inflicted on the Indigenous people of the New World during the conquest and colonial eras.

6789 Quail Hill Pkwy, Suite 211 Irvine CA 92603. This led the Spanish crown to postpone the abolition of the system, fearing the loss of their colonies. This grant came with restrictions, like the crown could transfer the encomenderos to other regions, and the grant was valid only for two successive generations of the grantee’s family. The Indigenous people could also be made to work for a certain amount of time, say on a sugarcane plantation or in a mine. The colonial elite was livid with rage when the provisions of the New Laws became known. The encomenderos there showed an inhuman indifference to the suffering of the families on their encomiendas. The friars who were in charge of evangelizing the natives also demanded foodstuff and other goods in return.

Despite being used in the Spanish colonies for more than 200 years, the encomienda system was never fully supported by its monarchy. In spite of this, why was it a failure, and abolished in 1542? In the 1500s, Spain systematically conquered parts of North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. One of the biggest threats faced by the natives, along with the firearms that settlers brought with them, were diseases like cowpox and measles, against which they had no protection. However, the negative effects of granting encomiendas to conquistadors, whose sole interest lay in obtaining wealth, was soon apparent. In addition, the encomenderos were also required to pay a tax to the crown.

The Spanish monarchy believed that once an Indian accepted the authority of the Spanish crown, and the Roman Catholic faith, he should be treated as a subject of the crown and deserved their protection.

The encomienda system began in the early 16th century, and continued till the beginning of the 18th century in most parts of the New World. Copyright © Historyplex & Buzzle.com, Inc. The system essentially made landed nobility out of men whose only skills were murder, mayhem, and torture: the kings hesitated to set up a New World oligarchy which could later prove troublesome. Natives who attempted to escape from their dismal slavery also received a similar fate. The Indigenous people instead brought the tribute to wherever the owner happened to be, generally in the larger cities. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., is a professor at the ​Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

As legally defined in 1503, an encomienda (from Spanish encomendar, “to entrust”) consisted of a grant by the crown to a conquistador, a soldier, an official, or others of a specified number of “Indios” (Native Americans and, later, Filipinos) living in a particular area. The New Laws removed all hope of perpetuity being granted.

The word encomienda comes from the Spanish word encomendar, meaning "to entrust." Charles V felt it prudent to suspend or repeal the most hated aspects of the New Laws.

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The encomienda system traces its roots to the ‘Reconquista’ or reconquest of Spain, from its Moorish invaders. encomendar=to entrust], system of tributory labor established in Spanish America. In fact, the encomienda system decimated large sections of the native population, a tragedy first reported from West Indies under Columbus. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. The encomenderos, being little more than ruthless conquerors, dealt with the natives with a heavy hand.


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