The onset of colonization and slavery is traced to the ancient interest of Catholics and Catholic Church to spread the biblical gospel beyond Europe to the furthest ends of the world. To achieve their interest of spreading the gospel, the church established of initiating global spiritual conquest where catholic missionaries were to assume the position of spiritual leadership in distinct nations with the pope being the central ad most supreme spiritual emperor (Cullen et al 66). In 1452, the then reigning pope, pope Nicholas V announced American continent to be the most blessed and bestowed the continent to Spanish and Portuguese rule. The two nations were to reign over America and the people within the continent. The intention of the research compiled herein is to establish whether the rule of the two nations was successful or not establishing the reason behind the success or failure. Indeed the rule of the two nations over America was successful for some time and was short-lived after which they were overthrown.
The rule of Spaniards on Americans
The Spanish and the Portuguese arrived in American in early 1493 to conquer and administer their papal bestowed rule over America. On their arrival, they found various smaller communities such as the Arawak which had settled in various parts of America especially at the eastern costs of the continent. Numerous people had settled on the islands of Hispaniola amongst other islands. During their travel, the Spanish were accompanied with their Indian slaves who had earlier been enslaved within the roman territories.
The Spaniards settled in the fertile lands of Hispaniola displacing a large number of native people who had earlier settled in the area. To ensure effectiveness of their rule and authority, the Spaniards enslaved the American native people together with the Indies. The rule of the Spaniards was very inhuman to slaves as they were subjected to intensive torture, caning and long working hours. To worsen the condition of the slaves, the Catholic Church through its papal authority proclaimed that whoever was against the gospel was against God and deserved enslavement, war and even death (Horne et al 45). This was highly unfavorable condition to the slaves since they too were committed to their gods and were not willing to embrace any new religion.
Additionally, to reinforce their command against Indians, the Spaniards attacked and destroyed numerous mosques and temples which belonged to the Indians. They further burned down their idol gods and killed the Indian priests. Further, the Spanish soldiers attacked Indian homes killing whoever was not willing to embrace their religion and take heed of the gospel. Despite the frustrations and killings, some Indian communities especially the Mayan managed to hide their religion within Christianity. This later led to the rise of the Mayan Christianity, a cult between the two religions later which facilitated war between the two religious bodies. This resulted in excessive fear among the Indians forcing majority of them to submit and worship the Spaniards’ God.
Further, for the Indians and the Native Americans to be considered humans and not animals, being Christians and embracing Christianity was mandatory. Due to their resistance, brutality was practiced over the slaves which led to the death of the majority majorly Indians. In 1550, the Arawak based in Chile were forced surrender and embrace Christianity by Pedro de Valdivia who was the ruler of the south west part of the American continent (Cullen et al 74). Further, it was during the same period that catholic priests began preaching non-uniformly concerning the issue of brutality on non Christian slaves. Initially, there were three categories of priests according to the Rome statute consisting of Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans. Each class of priests conveyed distinct information concerning the beliefs of the church which later led to violence and war amongst them.
The Indian massacre
Despite being forced to embrace the new Christianity faith, the Indians had an expanded interest of restoring their initial culture, temples and gods. The Indians thereafter joined the Mayan-Christians cult as a way of pretending to embrace Catholicism and on the contrary strategized ways of waging war against Spaniards, a war they considered cosmic not earthly. Towards the end of the same year, Indians attacked Spaniards soldiers with spears and arrows (Eissa-Barroso et al 13). The war did not last long since the Indians had inferior weapons and they themselves were weak to fight. Such an attempt angered the Spaniards and decision was made to wipe out the Indian communities within the territory. The result of such inhuman rule was massing murdering and hanging of Indians. Some of the Indians were immersed in the sea waters around the Hispaniola islands. The Indian communities were no more and the Spaniards thereafter depended on the Native Americans as their slaves.
The intra-church battles
The three powerful priests’ categories, the Dominicans, the Franciscans and the Jesuits began their aversion from each other just after the Indian massacre. The Franciscans totally opposed and condemned the act of the Spaniard rulers of murdering the innocent Indian population and acting in violence against individuals who opposed the Christianity faith despite the act being an order from the pope himself. The two other categories; Dominicans and Jesuits began perceiving Franciscans as their enemies and the enemy the church (Eissa-Barroso et al 33). The authorities ruling the state also could not stop taking such a stand as an insult.
As a result, the state contemplated exercising their authorities over the Franciscans and grasping their land from them. Further, the two other church categories also anticipated overthrowing of the Franciscans and grabbing their wealth. To combat the prevailing condition, the Franciscans maintained solidarity and strategized on ways to counteract war. In 1553, the state in union with the two church categories waged war against the Franciscans. The churches fought for power, prestige and souls as the state fought for land. The war became highly intensive as the Franciscans were strong too and well equipped with superior weapons and were not ready to relent.
The result of the war was a massive death of priests as well as other Spaniard soldiers. Hopefully, the Franciscans won the war having killed most of Jesuits and Dominicans as well as soldiers. On the contrary, al large number of Franciscans was murdered during the war. The implication of such victory was that the Franciscans were new rulers of the American continent and that all wealth belonged to them. Further, there was an implication that the Franciscans were never part of Rome institute since they were perceived as adversaries to the papacy.
Despite their broken seal, the pope requested the Franciscans to send their spiritually minded priests to Spain where they were to be summoned. Without failure, the Franciscans sent twelve priests to be summoned by pope. To curb the reduced number of priests the bishop of Franciscans with the assistance of other priests decides to train Indian converts towards priesthood and serving God (Cullen et al 74). It was during their error that slavery was brought to a stop and freedom was restored to everyone. Afterwards, the rule was based on equality and personal freedom and the Franciscans were later perceived as just men who had no interest on power hence resulting to an end of Spaniards rule.
In considering the chronological events of the Spaniards and their rule, it can be deduced that indeed they were not successful. Despite being authoritative at early stages, their power was snatched from them by the Franciscans. Indeed, the popes during the Spanish rule on America were the most evil and self centered.
- Cullen, Deborah, and Rodríguez E. Fuentes. Caribbean: Art at the Crossroads of the World. , 2012. Print.
- Horne, Gerald. The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. , 2014. Print.
- Eissa-Barroso, Francisco A, and Varela A. Vázquez. Early Bourbon Spanish America: Politics and Society in a Forgotten Era (1700-1759). Leiden: Brill, 2013. Internet resource.