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Chapter 7

HIS 315K Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Fuero, Castizo, Limpieza De Sangre


Department
History
Course Code
HIS 315K
Professor
M Seaholm
Chapter
7

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A. Relfection (20 points)
I chose to review “Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations on the Essence
of Pardo-ness and Mulatto-ness at the End of Empire.” While I found the reading
useful in better understanding race and the colonial caste system, I thought it
was a little bit of an information overload. It mentioned many, many names of
peoples who were never brought up again and had a lot of details that I found to
be too much for me. It would have been a better read if the subject was
something that I was very interested in and wanted to know everything about,
but for this class it was difficult to keep my interest up and follow all the
different lines of information.
I also did not find it particularly interesting. There were parts, such as
how some institutions in Latin America acknowledged the gracias al sacar and
the ability to grant whiteness but did not agree with it, that intrigued me. It
seemed that even though they were basically purchasing a different race, it was
never debated if it was possible, but only if it was okay.
1
Another interesting fact
was that Native Americans could be considered “Old Christians” if they
converted immediately when given the chance, whereas anyone from African
descent could not claim that title or limpieza de sangre because they were
forced to convert after they already knew of Catholicism in Africa.
2
Other than
that, the reading seemed to state the same thing multiple times and got boring
very quickly for someone not enthralled with the topic.
B. Identification (40 points)
1. Limpieza de sangre or limpeca de sangue was the Iberian concept of keeping
one’s blood pure. It began with religious intentions by dissuading Catholics from
marrying Jews or Muslims. However, with the advancement of a mixed elite class
in Latin America, the Spanish and Portuguese Crown encouraged limpieza de
sangre by giving “pure blood” children and their parents advantages over others.
They also kept the “tainted” peoples, such as Indians and Africans, from serving
in the Church and state offices and from marrying into prominent familes.
3
2. The Iberians developed the sistema de castas, or caste system to divide their
society into groups based on their “biological mixture.” They came up with many
names for all the combinations of those reproduced from Africans, Iberians, and
Native Americans ethnicities. However, with so many different possibilities it
1
Ann Twinam, “Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations of the Essence of Pardo-ness and Mulatto-ness at the End of
Empire,” 159-160.
2
Ann Twinam, “Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations of the Essence of Pardo-ness and Mulatto-ness at the End of
Empire,” 146.
3
Mark A. Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 9th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2015), 196.

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became almost impossible to tell from just looking at someone what they would
be classified as (Mestizo, Castizo, Mulatto, etc). This system developed primarily
due to the Iberian belief that only pure blood was noble or should hold
important positions. In Latin America having a relationship or interaction with
those of African or Native Americans was seen as undesirable as having a
relationship with Jews or Moors in Spain or Portugal. A huge difference between
the two continents, however, was the fact that race could be overlooked if other
qualities about a person improved.
4
3. Pardos, Mulattos, and Mestizos were all people with parents who were not of
the same ancestry. Pardos were peoples of mixed descent that had relations to
Europeans, Native Americans, and West Africans.
5
Mulattos were the children
who came from one African parent and one Iberian parent. Mestizos were the
children who came from one Native American parent and one Spanish parent.
They were typically seen as a bridge between the two cultures; not as smart as
their Iberian parent, but more capable than their native parent. To some, these
biracial children threatened limpieza de sangre. They formed a culture of mixed
races and made the caste system more fluid.
6
4. Mestizaje was the mixing of two different races. It was believed by Iberians to be
detrimental to society and the higher castes by causing lower intellect levels and
worse behavior in the children produced. While frowned upon, it was not illegal
and sometimes the children were ranked in a different social class than either of
their parents.
7
However, mestizaje became quite common in Latin America and
many terms were coined to group the children of the interracial couples. These
terms included mulatto, mestizo, castizo, and more.
5. Fueros were the special privileges that the Spanish and Portuguese upper classes
received, such as tax exemptions and judicial rights. Fueros were awarded to
those within the nobles and clerics castes which made up roughly 10% of the
Iberian population. They could also be awarded to the military and universities.
These organizations could use their fueros to exercise judicial authority over
4
Maria Elena Martinez, “The Language, Genealogy, and Classification of Race,” 27-28.
5
Ann Twinam, “Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations of the Essence of Pardo-ness and Mulatto-ness at the End of
Empire, 142-144.
6
Matthew Restall and Kris Lane, Latin America in Colonial Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011),
204-207.
7
Kenneth Mills and William B. Taylor, Colonial Spanish America: a document history (Scholarly Resources Inc.,
1998), 326.
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their members and be considered exempt from the state or other powerful
institutions.
8
6. The Iberians caste system grouped people based on two qualities: their calidad
and their casta identity. A calidad refers to a persons socioracial qualities, such
as their skin color, occupation, public reputation, race, etc. Because the calidad
factors are not all innate, a person’s caste could change. In Latin America, the
Sistema de castas was far more fluid because of calidads. Even though someone
with a darker skin color could be seen as an inferior person, it could be
overlooked by other factors such as an increase in power or wealth.
9
7. One way to improve your station in Latin America was to obtain a gracias al sacar
from the Spanish crown. A gracias al sacar granted the status of being “white” to
people of color. The requests were sent to the Council of the Indies and
contained the peoples’ reasoning as to why they should be able to change their
race title and how they had served the Crown. Eventually, in 1795, the Crown
allowed people in the New World to purchase their “whiteness” and set the
price for doing so.
10
8. The two castas paintings shown in the readings consisted of different biracial
children. In the first one, painted by Jose Joaquin Magon and depicted a family
with a mestizo child. The child is dressed in fancy Spanish clothing and is holding
a paper up to his father that reads “parco.”
11
Contrary to popular opinion, this
painting shows that mestizo children can be well-mannered and taught how to
read and write. It shows that a family that does not conform to the ideal of
having two parents with the same ethnicity can be content and even happy.
12
The second castas painting was by Andres de Islas and depicts a family with a
mulatta child. Very different from the first, the second painting show a family in
chaos. The African mother is seen as wild and uncontrollable even as her child
8
Mark A. Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 9th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2015), 192.
9
Matthew Restall and Kris Lane, Latin America in Colonial Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011),
204-205.
10
Ann Twinam, “Purchasing Whiteness: Conversations on the Essence of Pardo-ness and Mulatoo-ness at the End
of Empire,” 141-142.
11
Kenneth Mills and William B. Taylor, Colonial Spanish America: a document history (Scholarly Resources Inc.,
1998), 323.
12
Kenneth Mills and William B. Taylor, Colonial Spanish America: a document history (Scholarly Resources Inc.,
1998), 324.
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