The approaches to colonization of Spain and Portugal
The methods of colonization pursued by the Portuguese were similar to those of Spain, with the differences that the Portuguese inclined more to commercial pursuits. For the Portuguese and Spanish, extraction of resources particularly silver and sugar was of paramount significance. The way they treated Native Americans, whether in South America or Mexico or what is currently the southern and western United States, was somehow punitive (Fishman 213). Until relatively of late, the Portuguese and Spanish were saddled with the reputation as the cruelest of European colonizers. At the same time, however, recent scholars have shown that various nations were little better.
Still, the Portuguese and Spanish at first used Indians as slaves, then exploited them as cheap labor and kept them near the bottom of the social scale of Latin America. More open approaches to colonization sometimes attributed to the history of Spanish and Portuguese is part of the White Legend of Spanish history, an apologetic view on the actions of Spain in the Americas. Spain’s European rivals in the late sixteenth century gave rise to the Black Legend (Carroll 99). This legend focused attention on the conquerors’ cruelty onto indigenous peoples, their unbridled greed, and their hypocritical use of religion in justifying their deeds.
The Black Legend survived into the twentieth century and colored Anglophone scholarship on both Spain and Spanish America. Its influence is apparent, in modernization studies in the 1950s, which compared to the continuity of political, social, and economic forms. The Spanish devised a split system on their new territories. It was known as encomienda which means to charge or mission. It was based on a feudal system of land grants which existed in Spain at the time (Juif, Dácil-Tania 227). The Spaniard arrived in the New World was issued land. As the encomendero, this man ruled over a certain number of Native America. The number depended on the size of the land granted to him by the Spanish crown.
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