The Colonization of Mexico in the Form of Religion
The spiritual conquest of the Indian Mexico commenced instantaneously after the Spanish conquistadores vanquished at the Aztec Empire military. The Spaniards were staunchly Roman Catholic. It is important to note that Spain’s rise to power resulted as a direct consequence of regaining the Iberian cape away from the Moslem rule. In Return, due to having driven out the Moors, the Pope granted the Spanish Crown authority over the Church within its spheres, efficiently making it an arm of the state. Therefore, for Carlos V, the Americas invasion was more than just the desire for territory together with the material riches. His other mission was also to pursue the souls for salvation.
Though their main aim was to perform the sacraments and also introduce the Indians to the basics of the Christian principle, in various instances, the missionary friars laid their base for the blending of the Spanish as well as Mexican cultures. Through this, they were able to win the trust of many native populations through protecting them from the extremes upon which quite a umber of the Spanish civilians were leaning toward (Hoyte 55).
During this time, the church’s organization was split into two varied branches. Through the papal endowment of power towards the Spanish Crown, the worldly or secular clergy was made up of priests served under the bishops. The orders of the Missionary, conversely, were designated as self-governing bodies within a separate authority. The secular priests were not allowed to interfere with the regular clergy. And if they a breach of this would lead to a penalty of ex-communication. Therefore, during the Mexico’s colonial era, the lay clergy had to work hand in hand with the civil authority. The missionary friars who labored independently, on the other hand, tended to posses a superior control over the common persons.
As a result of the conquest, the Spaniards started setting up political, social and economic structure of the Nueva España. And during the time when Ciudad de was being put up on the ruins of the ancient capital of Aztec, the remains of the territory that was conquered was gradually split up into grants for enormous estates referred to as encomiendas. These were controlled under feudal form of governance through some five hundred Spanish landlords. Within the original scheme, the Title went back to the Spanish Crown in the event of death of the ecomendero (the owners of the estate). However, in time the heirs were permitted to retain the rights through inheritance (Willa 112)
The owners of the land, as they were referred, were at liberty to reap any form of benefit they could from the estate together with the unpaid labor among the native population for working in the fields as well as the mines. Hypothetically, they were indebted to look after the physical, intellectual as well as the spiritual welfare of the Indians. With some exceptions, most of them exploited the privileges they were accorded without satisfying their duties. The customary village ownership of the land which was basically known as the ejido type of land ownership was created during the early periods of colony. All these factors were likely to become some of the significant events in the History of Mexico (Jaffary 118).
Though the system of land ownership went on into the 18th century, the overall importance as far as the economy of the New Spain did not last for long. The soldiers who were responsible for the take over of the Tenochtitlan, together with other thousands of the new Spanish explorers who migrated within the century due to the conquest, managed to take little interest in managing the land. They favored setting out towards the northern part to search for gold as well as other forms of riches within the legendary 7 Cities of Cibola. The pursuit for the mythical land of abundance probably invented by the inhabitants as a strategy to send earlier explorers onward eventually proved ineffective.
As the society of the colony grew, there was the development of a well-defined caste system. The upper most stratus was made up of Spaniards who were originally born in Spain. These were referred to as peninsulare and they mainly originated from families which had titles. They held high ranking posts within the government and the clergy (Hoyte 122).
Later on came the criollos. In Mexico, they were born but by the Spanish parents. Though few of them managed to occupy the official positions, they were able to take up executive positions and rise to the secondary levels. Still, others were able to prosper through becoming the owners of the land as well as the merchants. There were those who also enjoyed the life of leisure and this was mainly to due to the toiling of the Indians who tilted their farms, ranches, mine together with other commercial undertaking into productive endeavors.
The death of a number of Spanish women at the beginning of the colonial era resulted to several connection between the Indian females and the Spaniards. The resultant effect was the birth of several mixed blood, mainly illegitimate offspring. They were referred to as mestizos and they mainly made a socioeconomic class, which, for various reasons were termed inferior by pure blood Spaniards. They currently remain lowly and uneducated.
The native, who belonged to the Indian community, were delegated towards the next rung down the social ladder of the New Spain. And believed to be the wards of the Crown as well as the Church, the rule stipulated that the legal authorities, the clergy together with the encomenderos needed to protect their well-being. However, the Spaniards heavily relied on the native labor. Hundreds of thousands of the Indian who were rarely viewed as human being, literally worked to death. More other succumbed to the various diseases which were introduced by the Spaniards (Jaffary 118). The diseases included smallpox, tuberculosis and even plague. During the period of conquest, nearly 9,000,000 indigenous people occupied the central plateau of Mexico. They clocked 2.5 million by 1600.
The desolation of the population of the Indian community in Mexico led to a momentous shortage in labor. The circumstance was remedied through the importation of thousands of the Africa slaves. Though they came to understand each other, because of the high costs of transportation, the Spaniards paid the slaves that seemed to overcome both hard labor as well as harsh working conditions better that the Indians. Due to the remunerations for the steadfast form of labor, quite a number of the blacks managed to buy their liberty.
It is evident that the Spaniards, who were staunch Roman Catholics, did not only move to the land of Mexico with sole aim of spreading Christianity but also had the desire to acquire the territory together with the riches in it. Consequently there was an increased level of human torture, contrary to the normal expectation of the main aim of the missionaries.
Hoyte, Palfrey. Colonial Era of Mexico: Religion and Society. New York: Prentice Hall Publishers, 1999.
Willa, Cather. Death Comes For The Archbishop. New York: Thorndike Press,
Jaffary, Nora. Gender, Religion and Race in Colonization of the Black Americas: Chicago: Ashgate press, 2007.