Black Legend Essay, Research Paper
The Black Legend
During the late 15th and early 16th centuries Catholic Spain was beginning a vast movement in efforts to dominate Europe by conquering lands about the New World. Lands in Mexico and areas near the Yucatan known as New Spain became the focal point of Spain s conquest. Being the first country to distribute their colonies throughout the New World, Spain was ridiculed by neighboring countries like England and France. However this type of ridiculing was largely due to the religion of Spain at the time. After the Protestant Reformation, Spain had remained to be a Catholic nation. Thus powers like England were able to attack Spain from all political sides. This new vision of Spain s bloody conquest in South America allowed Protestant Europeans to initiate a theory on Spain s conquests known as the Black Legend.
This Black Legend was said to say that the Spanish were cruel to the natives in their colonies just because they were Catholic. Based on the given articles written from the majority of which were brought about from different view and opinions, this legend in my opinion must be true. Such people who wrote these letters or documentaries were well- trusted statesmen, and to lie to the governor of one’s nation was considered to be a sin to both the Majesty and to God. Even in the views of those belonging to Spain and the Catholic Church, the Spaniard’s attempt to exemplify themselves in the New World was an unjustly and cruel cause.
The main reason for Spain s barbaric approach to the New World was in attempt to the counter-Reformation. The Spaniards wanted to attract new voices in the Catholic Church by sending missionaries and Jesuits to the New World in order to expand the religion and hopefully bring the end of Protestant Reformation by blocking off all England s and Europe s attempt in colonization. Thus, the use of force was needed to conquer new lands and promote God and His Majesty for Spain.
Since the view of the French, English, and even Spanish are used, in my best words I claim the Black Legend to be true. In the words of de Las Casas who he himself was a Catholic Spaniard said that the natives were people who were patient, peaceful and calm. They never had hate, desire, or vengeance. He considered them to be weak and delicate people who lived amongst themselves in peace and harmony. However, in accordance to the priest, the Spaniards and their horses came and slaughtered the women, men, and children in search of expansion and mainly gold. This desire for gold kept the Spaniards on the move, and until they had had all they would not rest. Even in the eyes of an Aztec who had nothing but his people, the Spaniards killed and robbed the people and even at times took advantage of their women.
This brutality, however, only seemed to exist in the eyes of conquistadors. For among present day America, the French and Puritans struck remarkable friendship among the local natives. The French with the aid of the noble Samuel de Champlain struck a trade deal with the Indians for beaver fur. Even the Puritans gained trust from Squanto in Plymouth to build a long-lasting relationship of trust and friendship. When Sir Walter Raleigh arrived in the Caribbean he described the people as scared and bewildered due to the despoiling Spanish who took advantage of their women and embarrassed their men.
Even with such conquests and brutality of the Spanish, commercial Catholicism was not reached according to Father Juan Rogel in a letter to Pedro I. He claimed that despite great advancements in the modernization of the natives, he was unable to bring them to the understanding about the religion. Since the Indians were on the move 9 of 12 months he was unable to learn the language fully or completely preach to them. And when he did they would constantly make fun of his words. He acknowledged that the only way get them to cooperate were to settle them down and build villages. For if any man was to follow them for 50 years, his message would never get across.
These concrete facts, letters, and personal accounts seem to point at the Spaniards as being cruel due to the fact that they were Catholic and had the desire to get their message across and take advantage of the people and possessions of the ancient civilizations established in the New World. The Protestants very well could have done such things as well in order to block the counter-Reformation, instead they took the advice of the natives and established a more prosperous foundation and colony. Even though today most of South America is Catholic, they are still behind mainly due to the acts that occurred hundreds of years ago. In turn the Black Legend did have a large impact on the colonization and Reformation of the New World.