(SPAIN EXPANDS, to 1600 – continued)
It was the policy of Spain's monarchy to reward soldiers with land, and soldiers in New Spain were taking Indian slaves to work their land. And to New Spain the monarchy sent representatives of the Catholic Church who were to help in establishing Christian missions, the creation of hospitals and orphanages and to take care of the aged and the mentally disturbed. And they were to be responsible for education.
Pope Paul III, (r 1534-49), issued a series of encyclicals in 1537 declaring it heresy to describe Indians as other than human. He was eager to label the Indians as worthy of conversion, and he urged clergy and laymen to work at converting the Indians by preaching and acting in an exemplary fashion. The Pope forbade the enslavement of the Indians or seizure of their property. In 1538, the devote Charles V responded to the pope with a legality. He declared the pope's declaration in violation of the agreement between the monarchy and the Vatican concerning the powers of the monarchy in the Americas.
Meanwhile, Spaniards were tearing down Indian temples and destroying Indian idols, the stones from destroyed temples often used to build Christian churches. In trying to destroy paganism the Spaniards wiped out the historical records and ancient almanacs of the Indians. The Spaniards intentionally humiliated the priests of native religions to discredit them. Those who took on the appearance of conversion put a Roman Catholic face onto their religious tradition, hanging onto their god by amalgamating him with Jesus Christ.
There was now in New Spain more of a lust for gold, inspired by Pizarro's success. A tale of the "Seven Cities of Antilia" had entered the imaginations of various Spaniards in the Americas – cities believed to have been created by a group of European migrants many centuries earlier. Spain's viceroy in Mexico City, Antonio de Mendoza, sent a Franciscan monk, Marcos de Niza, and his Moorish slave-interpreter north to investigate. In what today is New Mexico the friar exercised his imagination, believing he was seeing a great city gleaming in the sun miles away, and he planted a cross and claimed the area in the name of God and the King of Spain. He returned to Mexico City, and Viceroy Mendoza was impressed by his report.
Copyright © 2000-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.