Empires and European invasions: The Spanish America
- History of the French army
- Organization and composition of the French army
- The Army
- The Air Force
- The National Gendarmerie
- The news of the French army
The Spaniards discovered America on 12 October 1492, casting anchor at Santo Domingo, the Caribbean. They quickly met the local people with their weapons and wars of succession which were raging at the time and facilitated the takeover of the region. Upon reaching there, the Spaniards had a policy of plundering local resources. The latter was primarily governed by the mita, then by repartimiento and finally by the encomienda system in 1503, less than 10 years after their arrival. We have three historical documents at our disposal to understand this system, from the beginning of the conquest (1492) until the peak of colonization (seventeenth century). The first document is the Introduction to the First Hearing of New Spain, written in 1528 and published by Silvio Zavala in 'The encomienda in Indiana in 1973'. It is an administrative text. The second document is an excerpt from Act I, Chapter 5, Book VI, of the Laws of India written in 1680. This is a legal document. The third and final document is an excerpt from the book of Juan de Solorzano y Pereira, Politica Indiana, 1647. This book is a compendium of thoughts on the legal and political state in South America which advocated the independence of this continent. These three papers each give a definition (legal, administrative, political) of the encomienda system. These are three historical documents written by Spanish authors. There is indeed a problem of sources: the Inca Empire was essentially based on an oral culture. Only the elite (and the administration, the two were often confusing) could write. There may therefore be Indian sources of the period studied. We will, however study only a few of them. Thus, the three texts analyzed here are supplemented by additional documents, including two maps of the political organization of the Spaniards in Peru and Mexico, three illustrations and short biographies and definitions. The arrival of the Spaniards in America is very sharply and very quickly dealt with. However, there were people and systems (political and economic) in place before their arrival. We can thus examine the policy of the colonizers and wonder how this policy announcement was a break in the lives of Indians.