Pros And Cons Of Christopher Columbus Rule

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When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, he met natives there. When this was reported to Queen Isabella of Spain, she immediately decreed that the natives (Indians as the Spanish would call them) were her subjects and were morally equal to all her other subjects including the Spaniards themselves. They were to be treated humanely and not to be enslaved, and they were to be Christianized and Europeanized.

Columbus violated these decrees from the beginning and thus he created a tension between Crown policy and behavior in the field that endured throughout the colonial period. Columbus' first illegal act was to ship five hundred Indians back to Spain as slaves. When Queen Isabella heard of this, she immediately ordered …show more content…

Under this system each Indian male was required to gather and turn in a certain amount of gold every ninety days. If he failed, the Indian was subject to a death penalty. Many ran away and even more died from exposure to the microbes of European diseases for which they had no immunity. The subjugation of native peoples was also employed during the next twenty years on Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica and the results were the same. Indians virtually disappeared from the Caribbean Islands.

Indians who survived the initial invasion were required to work and to accept Christianity. If they refused, they could be forced to comply. Many did resist and a system was devised to deal with them. It was known as the encomienda. Under this system Indians were regarded as part of the land: When land grants were made to settlers, the native inhabitants became a part of the grant. As property of the landowners, they could be forced to work without being technically enslaved. At the same time they were to be converted to Christianity by the local …show more content…

Some of them were appalled by the harsh treatment meted out to the Indians by many encomenderos and they demanded reform. One of these was a Dominican Friar, Antonio de Montesinos. As a result of his demands, the Crown promulgated the Laws of Burgos in 1512. These required that Indians were to be put into villages where they would live under supervision. They were to be baptized, given religious instruction, and encouraged to marry. They were to work for the Spaniards no more than nine months per year, and they were to be free and not mistreated.

The Crown also issued a document known as the Requerimiento, which was to be read to all Indians before the Spaniards could declare war on them. Written in Spanish or Latin, and thus unintelligible to the natives, Requerimiento was intended to inform them that they were about to become subjects of the Spanish Crown. If they submitted peacefully, all would be well, but if not, they would be attacked and

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