The Encomienda System

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The Encomienda System

Post  laraschembrisant on Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:54 pm

The etymology of encomienda and encomendero lies in the Spanish verb encomendar, "to entrust".
The encomienda system was a trusteeship system used during the Spanish colonization of the Americas, where by conquistadors were granted the towns of the indigenous people they conquered. The conquistadors, known as encomenderos, were able to tax these people and summon them for labor. In return the encomenderos were expected to provide safety for the people through an established military and teachings in Christianity.
However, most of the encomenderos ruthlessly exploited the people already living there. They used their influence and power as encomenderos and land owners to seize more lands from the natives, increase taxes, and ultimately force the natives into slavery. This exploitation of the indigenous natives and the other negative influences of the European presence of encomenderos were some of the factors that led to the breakdown of the entire encomienda system. The encomienda system was like the Feudal system.
The downfall of the encomienda system began when Blasco Nez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru, tried to enforce the New Laws. Many of the encomenderos were unwilling to comply with the New Laws and soon revolted against Vela.
Other problems of the encomienda system in Peru occurred due to the breaking up of extended families, or ayllus, which brought an end to their economic system of vertical exchanges. Not only this impaired the encomienda system, but so also did the epidemic diseases brought to America by the Europeans. These diseases, such as the plague and smallpox, killed a large percentage of the indigenous population because they had no natural defenses against them.
The encomienda system was essential to the Spanish government sustaining their control over North and South America becuase it was the first major organizational law instituted on a contintent where disease, war and turmoil reigned.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encomienda
http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/theconquestofperu/p/Spain-S-American-Colonies-And-The-Encomienda-System.htm
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/186567/encomienda
http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/imperial-rivalries/timeline-terms/encomienda-system-established

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Re: The Encomienda System

Post  Dominique on Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:30 pm

Great job Lara! I think that the encomienda system was horrible. Even when it was supposedly terminated after Bartolome de las Casas made his statement that the harsh treatment the natives were receiving was wrong, it only worsened things. There is some irony in this system, I say this because the encomenderos provided "protection and salvation" to the Indians. However it was quite the opposite; most of these workers or slaves received harsh treatments from their owners and they were also being killed off by diseases how you mentioned. The Europeans believed that they were granting the Natives a favor by influencing their culture; but they really weren't.
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Re: The Encomienda System

Post  elena.scates on Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:20 pm

It's so sad that the natives had to pay to work for the conquistadors, like in a feudal system, even though they were given barely anything in return. Like Mr. Fisher was saying, they didn't really get much protection even though that was part of the deal. But at least they were able to use materials from the lands they were working on.
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