Examining Empires Essay Research Paper Not less

Examining Empires Essay, Research Paper

Not less than a week ago I was channel surfing on my television when Icame across your show on the history channel titled “Examining Empires”.I found the show to be very informative and interesting due to the factthat I am learning of the same material in one of my college historycourses. Although the show was very well documented, I became disturbedwith the information that your so-called Latin American history expert,Ms. Ima Psycho distributed. Due to my opposition of the information thatMs. Psycho covered, and her lack of research on the subject, in thecourse of this letter I will inform you of what Ms. Psycho said thatcontrasts with what I have been taught in my history course thissemester. First of all, Ms. Psycho stated very clearly that as far as thepeasants in Peru were concerned, there was almost no difference betweenrule by the Inca Empire and rule by the Spanish colonizers. In heropinion this was because in each case the people were governed by animperial power to which they had to pay tribute in-kind and in laborservice. I disagree tremendously with Ms. Psycho on many accounts. First, in themanner of the labor service and the treatment of their workers, theIncas and Spanish differed immensely. According to Pedro Cieza de Leon,an early member of Spain’s conquering armies, who documented thecomplexity of the Incas, stated “in short, it will be understood that asthese lords knew how to enforce service and the payment of tribute, sothey provided for the maintenance of the people, and took care that theyshould want nothing”(Cieza pg. 254). What Cieza was saying was that theInca rulers, though they may have been strict in enforcing service, theyprovided for the people and made sure that the people would never beneedy. In contrast to the Inca’s the Spanish colonizers could care lessfor their workers and their needs. As stated by Irene Silverblatt inher chapter on “Women of the Peasantry”, “no built in mechanismsexisted to ensure the well being of the laborer or to restrain theexploitation of nature”. Spanish colonizers had a different concept ofwho could labor for them than the Incas also. “Under the Incas, peasantwomen, while not formally registered in tribute roles, did contribute tothe fulfillment of labor demands made by the rulers, but they did so inan economic system in which exaction’s were tempered. Under Spanishlaw, native women were formally exempt from tribute; however, attemptsto moderate the exaction’s made on the peasantry were disregarded bycolonial authorities” (Silverblatt, pg. 129). In other words, Incasused women for labor in an economic system, while the Spanish usedwomen not only illegally for labor purposes, but also for the purposesof gaining tribute and money. Ms. Psycho in her mind felt that it was not necessary to go into detailon just how horrible the Spanish were to their laborers, such as makingmen leave their families at night to work in the mines, while theSpanish colonials put the wives of the working men to work or evenraping them (Silverblatt pg.139). When the comparison of in-kind tributes and how the Inca and Spanishcollected these and who from, again both strategies contrast greatly. AsI cited earlier from Cieza, the Incas collected in-kind tributes fromthe laborers, but with the tribute, the Inca rulers used these andprovided for the maintenance of the people (Cieza, pg. 254). Thelaborers in which the Incas collected these tributes from was thehousehold, where all people in a family can help pay for what isobligated to be paid (Silverblatt, pg. 126). The Spanish also collectedin-kind tribute from their laborers, but instead of putting the moneyback into the good of the people, the goods and in-kind tribute weretaking by the Encomenderos and exchanged for their value on the Europeanmarket (Silverblatt, pg. 126). The people that the Spanish collected these in-kind tributes from was “all indigenous men of common originbetween the ages of 18 and 50, regardless of marital status”(Silverblatt, pg. 126). As you can see, Ms. Ima Psycho, misinformed all of your viewers abouthow close in comparison the Inca and Spanish rulers were in laborservice and in-kind tribute, when truly and historically they had nosimilarities whatsoever. Secondly, Ms. Psycho gave a horrible misinterpretation to your viewersthat European colonization was justified because Native Americans werebarbarians and their civilizations had attained no political or economicachievements that were impressive or worthy of European respect. Againyour professional, Ms. Psycho did not do enough study and research onif her insight was correct, which it was not. Bartalome de Las Casas, Spain’s defender of the rights of NativeAmericans, defended the Native Americans in his famous debate againstSepulveda in 1550, clearly stating how civilized these so-calledbarbarians were politically and economically. Las Casas states thateven though Native Americans lack the art and use of writing, they hadno need for the skill of ruling and governing themselves both publiclyand privately. The Native Americans had kingdoms, communities, and

cities that they governed wisely in accordance to their laws and customs(de Las Casas). De Las Casas also went on to say that beforeSpaniards had incorporated themselves with the Native Americans, thenatives had properly organized states, wisely ordered by excellent laws,religion, and customs. In a passage by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a member of Cortez’sconquering Spanish Army over the Aztecs, Diaz was astonished andmesmerized by the great splendor and wealth of the Aztecs. He wroteabout how a series of large towns stretched themselves along the banksof the lake, where soldiers were continually passing over bridges, andcanoes occupied the lake. Wealth amassed throughout the Native Americanculture and impressed Diaz and his European soldiers of how well NativeAmericans were economically. Not only were the Native Americans impressive to the Europeanspolitically, with their organized states, and economically with theAztecs in the splendor of their civilization, the Native Americans werealso very impressive to the Europeans “in their skill in everymechanical art that with every right they should be set ahead of all thenations of the known world on this score” (de Las Casas). The NativeAmericans could create beautiful art and build incomparablearchitecture, and make such abstract clothing. Ms. Ima Psycho’s false teachings on the Native Americans not impressingthe Europeans politically or economically, again gives the viewer adepiction that the Native Americans were barbarians and lacked cultureand civilized lifestyles when in fact these people lived great civilizedwealthy and governed lives under their own leadership and not theEuropeans. Lastly, I am troubled by Ms. Psycho’s interpretation that Spanish andPortuguese Colonization actually benefited the Native Americans becauseit brought them Christianity. Now the colonization may have introducedChristianity to the Native Americans but the way the Native Americansexperienced Christianity was not in a very positive manner. Let me askyou something, would you want foreigners to come into your homeland,tell you that their religion will save you from going to hell and willset you free and at the same time, these foreigners make you theirslave? This is exactly what happened to the Native Americans. Itbecame so horrible that Spanish laws were passed on the Native Americanscalled “the requirement” explaining that if native Americans did notaccept Christianity they were legal slaves of Colonial leaders (TheSword and the Cross). This law may seem easy for the Native Americansto accept, but how could they accept a law when they did not know orunderstand the Spanish language and what the Spaniards were saying. Notonly did Colonial rulers and settlers take advantage of placingChristianity on the Native Americans a burden, but Priests also tookadvantage. Priests would force Native American women to work, isolatingthem from Native American men, saying that in this way they trained thewomen and make them Christians. Not only do the Priests use religion toforce labor, but they also would make false accusations declaring thatthe Native American women are living in sin; these accusations areusually made because of the insinuation of the priest, especially ifthese women have a child, answered him defiantly, or do not want to workfor him voluntarily. This causes the women to work without pay as iftheir sin was a punishment or penance (Silverblatt, pg. 142). So as youcan see, Ms. Psycho realized and informed the viewers that colonizationbrought Christianity to the Native Americans, but she did not expressthe negative and improper ways in which the Native Americans experiencedChristianity. In closing, I would like to suggest that the next time you hire orinterview a self-proclaimed history expert that you would have in mindthat the expert researches the subject more in-depth, not only for thesake of making the expert look good, but in order that your viewersbecome more informed on the subject. I thank you for your time inreading my informative letter, and I do ask that you take myconsiderations into thought. Keep up the good work. Andrew Mashburn———————– Headers ——————————–Return-Path: Received: from relay20.mx.aol.com (relay20.mail.aol.com []) byair05.mail.aol.com (v51.29) with SMTP; Sun, 22 Nov 1998 21:30:38 -0500Received: from ha1.rdc2.occa.home.com (ha1.rdc2.occa.home.com []) by relay20.mx.aol.com (8.8.8/8.8.5/AOL-4.0.0) with ESMTP id VAA18462 for ; Sun, 22 Nov 1998 21:30:37 -0500 (EST)Received: from home.com ([]) by ha1.rdc2.occa.home.com (Post.Office MTA v3.5 release 217 ID# 0-53853L0S0V35) with ESMTP id com for ; Sun, 22 Nov 1998 17:43:55 -0800Message-ID: Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 17:44:27 -0800From: ANDREW MASHBURN Organization: @Home Network MemberX-Mailer: Mozilla 4.5 [en]C-AtHome0404 (Win98; I)X-Accept-Language: enMIME-Version: 1.0To: ourmack@aol.comSubject: our history midterm make sure you change it a little!!Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-asciiContent-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit


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