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Geography 2020A/B Lecture Notes - Peninsulars, Triangular Trade, Shake Keane

Course Code
GEOG 2020A/B
Anthony Weis

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Jan, 22, 2013
Labour Regimes and Expanding Frontiers
-The rape of accumulated treasure was followed by the systematic exploitation of the forced labour of Indians and
abducted Africans in the mines
-Mining produced the most spectacular profits in the colonial New World, but the plantations employed more
people and, in the end, produced greater wealth
-Spain’s primary colonial priorities were the Viceroyalty of New Spain and the Viceroyalty of Peru and exploitation
of precious minerals drove the behaviour of Spanish authorities for most of the colonial period
After Conquest:
-They had to decide who owned the wealth of Latin America and how was it to be distributed
-The Spanish Crown under Charles V crushed seeds of urban democracy in Spain
-Conquistadores were ‘men on the make’ but not democrats and they wanted to be feudal lords and the crown
sought to restrain their power and Fuentes said ‘these men had to be rewarded, but not too much…’
Systems of Exploiting Indigenous Labour:
Encomeinda System:
-Was a system of distributing royal grants where the men had the right to extract labour and tribute which could
be virtually anything from the native population and the descendants over a given area (but it was technically not
land ownership)
-Responsibilities were given to the men in exchange for the grants and they were in control of conversion and
paying a fee to Crown and in some cases this resulted in virtual slavery of the natives and it was modified over the
-Bartolome de las Casas appealed to the Spanish Crown and the Law of the Indies was passed in 1542 and there
were subsequent revisions and it officially protected the natives from slavery and there was more of a focus on
tribute but there were constant violations of the law
The Spanish Colonies’ Social Hierarchy:
-At the top were the minority made up of conquistadors, descendants, and aspiring nobles and just under them
were commoners, artisans, small-scale merchants and they both shared sense of superiority
-Towns and haciendas were ‘pockets of Spanish control in a sea of Indians’
-Silver mining economically dominates the Spanish
-Tribute, labour drafts, and wages were part of the “Republicas de indios’ which provided cheap labour which were
connected to Haciendas and mining towns and cities
-There was some autonomy and continuities, but not ‘repositories of pre-Hispanic past’ and they grew up in the
tug of war between conquerors and conquered
Coerced Indigenous Labour in Mines:
-Wage labour dominant in mines by mid-1600s in places in Mexico like Taxco, Zacatecas and Guanajuanto
-The greatest mine of them all was Potosi in modern-day Bolivia and it was discovered in 1545 and it was a 2000 ft
high ‘silver mountain’
-People said ‘the mountain that gushed silver’ and it was the ‘jugular vein’ of the Vice-royalty of Peru
-Mita (1570-1823) were forced labour ‘drafts’ (communities had to commit 1/7 of working men) and the practice
was often worse than theory but there was some low-waged labour
-There were great risks in silver ore extraction such as mercury poisoning and toxic gases
-A monk at the time said the mine was a ‘mouth of hell’ which swallowed Indians by the thousands
Lima Peru:
-Lima was the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru
-The economic orientation of Andean region changed very quickly and the old order centred in Cusco was swept
aside and resources funnelled through Lima (‘the mainstay of Spanish wealth’)
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