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HIS294 October 9 - The Long Conquest: Spain and the Indigenous Caribbean

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University of Toronto St. George
Melanie Newton

HIS294 – October 9, 2012 1 The Spanish Conquest of the Greater Antilles 1492 - 1550 Early Spanish/Taino Relations in Aïtïj/Espanola, 1492-93  1625 was when the British started to care about the Caribbean and that's the date for their first map of the Caribbean that is present in their national archives o The people of the Greater and Lesser Antilles are missing from the pictures of natives that are along the sides of the map o People aren't represented because their existence by that point is presumed to be null o Purposely leaving out the people of the Caribbean from the trial of documents that are kept in the archives  Interactions between the indigenous and the Spanish was a moment when there is a much bigger international conversation between groups who were not familiar to each other in any way shape or form  Hispaniola would be the testing ground for Spanish imperial policies that would then be exported elsewhere  December 1492, first interaction  There is a myth that the Taino thought the Spanish came from the sky o The Taino probably thought that they were sent by the sea god, Yocahu  The Taino had no basis for understanding that gold was what the Spanish wanted, at first, because they had no basis for understanding that gold is what made the Spanish world go round o They didn’t attach the same prevalence to gold, silver and other minerals as the Spanish did o Eventually they would understand the importance that the Spanish put on minerals but they didn't base their communities on it  Almost immediately, according to Columbus' journal, it's obvious that there is a falseness in the interactions between the two o He makes it clear that ultimately domination by any means necessary is the end goal  Just before he returned to Spain one of his flagships was destroyed and the crew decided to stay in the Americas and made a settlement o Columbus took as evidence of his successful discovery of the Asiatic across the 'western sea' fruit, Tainos and their clothing  The colonization of the Americas is basically an extension of the Crusades  The pope made a legal document to proclaim to all of Europe who had claims over what o Treaty of Tordesillas, 1494 o Confirmed Spanish claims to everything west of an imaginary line in the western sea o When this treaty was drawn up, the only knowledge they had was of the Caribbean therefore the map that they knew was way different o Founding document of the Atlantic world, key legal basis through which European powers would assume control of the modern Atlantic world and it would be the driving force for imperialism  The men Columbus left behind went 'wild' o Made increasing demands for food, women and service o They had superior military force which was probably a factor in the Tainos compliance and friendliness at first o Needed the support of the natives as did all European settlers in the 15th - 17th century HIS294 – October 9, 2012 2 o Were the first to experience an exchange that scholars call the Columbian Exchange  Plants, biological material  For example, diseases: syphilis, small pox, measles  Historians have said that epidemics were the real conquerers of the Americas because the Indigenous people didn't have any immunity to the epidemic diseases  All the Navidad settlers had been massacred when Columbus came back o Guacanagari told him that the Caribs had destroyed the settlement o Columbus was suspicious and wanted revenge but simply built a new settlement at a site called Isabella that would eventually fail because he chose a stupid site  In 1494, war broke out between the Tainos and the Spanish while Columbus was discovering Jamaica and when he came back Columbus said okay lets fight and he and the Spanish basically destroyed the Taino o Used dogs to hunt down the Tainos, dismember them, and kill them o Imposed a gold tax, forced mine work o Enslavement of captives  The Spanish had created a 'just war' o Under certain circumstances the Christians were allowed to wage war against a people for noble purposes because they were in danger  The first shipment of people that crossed the Atlantic as slaves went from Hispaniola to Spain o 100 people to be sold as slaves in Spain o On their arrival, Queen Isabella didn't believe that the enslavement of the Tainos was not legal and as her subjects he had overstepped his bounds  Only the Spanish crown had the right to profit from slave trade o Led to debate about who could profit from slave trade in the Americas o 1503 - Isabella declared enslavement in the Americas legal as a crown prerogative (asiento)  Had to have a contract with the Spanish crown to do so  Atlantic world is based on the relation between Europe, the Americas and Africa o Found the modern Americas and 1494 and 1503 are the basis for the creation of this world o 1518 was the legalizing of slavery in Africa  Spain couldn't legally enter east of the imaginary line in the Western sea and they relied on Portugal to provide them with slaves o That’s how Portugal becomes the major slave supplier and Spain becomes the major slave receiver  There were major struggles for power going on between the Spanish themselves o The Crusaders thought they should be in power, there were different Catholic denominations and Columbus was in charge wh
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