The Power of the Church
(Week 8, November 5 , 2013)
Religion in the New World:
The Spanish Mission System
The Jesuits in New France
Religion in Virginia
Terms: Inquisition, Martyrdom, Predestination, John Eliot
Since Columbus’initial voyages, Spain sought to bring Catholicism to natives.
Various missionary groups (Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits) sought to teach Indians
Christianity, Spanish language and culture in missions, which were constructed by
Indian labour. (And harvest coco, not paid labour and they can’t leave).
Natives were often rounded up at gun point by soldiers and removed to missions by force.
Missions employed natives in agriculture and stock raising-Catholic church was the
largest holder of Indian slaves.
Enforcing the Mission System:
Natives were subjected to harsh discipline (runaways were whipped, put in stocks or
placed in solitary confinement, those who practiced traditional beliefs were publicly
whipped, girls were locked into special dormitories to avoid sexual contact).
Natives who resisted were subject to loss of rations, confinement, physical punishment
and in rare circumstances execution.
Natives resisted in a variety of ways (mass rebellion in missions, martyring of priests,
individual and collective running away, slow pace of work and destruction of tools,
practice of traditional beliefs, gambling, alcohol, fornication).
Missions were built near forts.
Why do Indians Stay in Missions?:
Introduction of livestock and agriculture changes environment and destroys traditional
forms of subsistence.
Introduction of European diseases (population decline of close to 95% in half of a century
of mission rule).
Conflict between priests and civil authorities who simply want to exploit the labour of
Indians and care little of their spirituality.
Also conflict between various missionary groups over the right to establish missions in
Decline of the Missionary Impulse: 1569 Spanish inquisition comes to the colonies based upon fear of “dangerous thoughts”.
Most cases heard by the tribunal were for minor offences against morality such as
concubinage or for conduct such as blasphemy.
Eventually Indians were exempted from the inquisition-argued they were too
intellectually inferior to be held accountable for their sins.
Continuity of the Missions:
As the Spanish colonies spread so too did the mission system.
Missions were developed in California and Texas during 18 century as Spanish
civilization spread North from Mexico. th
Mission system remained basis of conversion until 19 century when Spanish state was
successful in diminishing role of Catholic church.
French Religious Orders
Recollets were first missionaries to come to New France.
1620 opened a Monastery in Quebec hoping to entice natives to become Christians (this
was not successful and Seminary closed).
1632 Jesuits were given monopoly over missionary activity.
Unlike the Spanish there was virtually no French military presence in New France, so
they could not round up Natives by force to require them to attend Catholic services.
In addition, the fur trade was based upon the cooperation and alliances with the Natives
not slavery as in Spanish colonies.
Tactics of the Jesuits:
Jesuits learned Native languages and introduced schools and medical care to Natives who
lived near Montreal and Quebec.
However, unlike the Spaqnish missions, most Jesuits in New France lived among Natives