Hispanic identity and the black legend

Alejo

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hey everyone,

Recently I have been doing some digging into the history of Latinamerica and have come up with a few conclusions that I wanted to share with you all. Let me start by saying that it made me realize first and foremost the poor level of education and thus knowledge I had of it. Maybe this is why I'm sharing, so I can make sense of it, and some of this information might already be known to most of you. But it's a really fun process so I wanted to share.

The area of interest spans from the conquest (1492) to the declaration of independence from the Spanish crown in the 19th century (1810-1824).

So far based on the information I have seen I have concluded the following, this is still evolving and I'm still gathering the information so it could change, but I wanted to share this so that is up for discussion.

In Summary:

The story of the conquest was definitely the encounter of civilizations that must have been, as a rule, bloody and violent. This is undeniable. But, the amount of people killed seems to be much lower than what was reported. There are numbers that speak of 20 million people murdered. But the records show that the amount of spaniards traveling to the new world was in the thousands ( I saw figures of 54 thousand starting in 1492 and going to 1600) and the math becomes problematic. Although there have been mentions elsewhere of a biological factor which I still have to look into.

The way the spaniards behaved towards the native population differs from the way the english and french behaved with the native population. North America seems to have undergone an extermination and removal of the people while in South America there was mixing, these "mestizos" grew up to become the elite of the Viceroyalties, though the actual viceroy was always from the peninsula, he held little power over the rulings of the "criollos" that were born in the new world.

Spain, once established in the new territory, would set up a Viceroyalty, a kingdom within the larger empire that had its own obligations to the central crown, but also their privileges as Catalonia or Napoles would in the Iberian peninsula and the Mediterranean.



The goal of Spain as opposed to the one of England AFAIK, seems to have been to mix with the locals and expand the empire by making citizens out of the occupants of the land, who seemed to have adopted this quite well, the goal was to develop the location as part of the empire. To treat America as Spain rather than as a slave state.

The relationship between Latinamerica and Spain was closer, from what I can gather, to the one of Hispania with Rome, than to the one of Africa with France or the one of The USA with England for instance. America was an expansion and inclusion of new land and people into the territory of the empire rather than an extermination and appropriation of said new territory.

Most of what was produced in the Viceroyalties remained in there, some of it did leave to Europe, but not the majority.

Now, given the balance of powers in the 16th, 17th and 18th century and the struggle for power in the world with other empires (english, french, dutch) there was an effort to balkanize the new world of Spain.

As part of this effort to balkanize the new world, there was propaganda which created a legend that exaggerated the horrors of the conquest and the inquisition that has, from what I can see, created a large mental gap in the collective memory of the people of America that feel disconnected to their land. Not only this, but some people seem to think that it sent Latinamerica back 100 years in their development and their economic status. There are figures that show that Mexico city or Lima, for instance, were better off than London and Paris back in the 18th and 19th century, their population more prosper.

Most of the people in LATAM if not all, are in fact descendants of Spanish citizens (but not quite European nor native american for that matter), of an empire that was one of the greatest the world had ever seen and perhaps this is a good piece to add in the search for an identity?. Perhaps it's better to realize that there was something greater in the past rather than mere victimization?, or perhaps the best would be to see it as a whole and that there's a bit of both. But regardless it's better to know what actually went on.

Most of the information I have found is in spanish so I will be updating this post with the information as I translate the main points and hopefully create a good collection of information so that the point is made clear and discussion is encouraged.

Please feel free to add or correct me if there's anything I might have missed or gotten wrong. I hope the above was clear enough.
 

Alejo

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
So let me start here,

This is Pablo Victoria, a former senator in Colombia speaking to what he terms propaganda about Spain and how it permeated the minds of people about what life was like during the viceroyalties. Mind you he concludes that if the empire hadn’t fallen to the efforts of the English, French Dutch and so on, it would be a great nation living better than the US currently does, which to me it’s a bit much and perhaps tainted his vision. But who knows it really is impossible to tell.

Nonetheless he presents some pertinent information:


Some of the points that I found interesting are the following:

According to him, and the records he mentioned he pulled the total migration from Europe to the americas was about 54.881 from 1493-1600 making the extermination of 20 million natives a monumental task, something like over 1000 people per day for 50 years. He claims the fact that the Spaniards were able to cover so much territory in such a fashion, as far as city foundings and trade was concerned, seems to suggest that there wasn’t that many people living in America to begin with.

He also spoke about the “biological warfare” aspect that is usually brought up, he says that after studies were done, the exhumation of bodies from the conquest era were found to contain a specific bacteria (Cocolistilli) that is believed to have killed natives, but it was also found in the bodies of Spaniards, which means that the latter weren’t immune to it. To him it discounts the narrative of a biological weapon.

He mentioned data from the archives of the Vatican (which could be tampered with to be fair) to show that the Spanish catholic Inquisition wasn’t as deadly as most people think. The numbers were considerably low in comparison to the numbers of the Protestant inquisition in other countries in Europe (10.000 in ten years for Germany). Even lower were the numbers in America (100 people in 250 years).

Also showing that there were laws established that abolished things like lashing of women, that allowed repent and changed the death penalty for a canonical penalty and so on (not sure what this means).

This, he shows, came from the mission by the fraile Bartolomé de las casas, who took an expedition to the new world in the 16th century, and reported back on the misbehavior of the Spanish soldiers (something that wasn’t policy) and started a debate in which it was determined that the Indians were to be treated as people equal to those in Spain, thus the aim was more in conversion than ahnilation and opened the door for the mixing of races.

This debate halted for 5 years the entire conquest task as the crown would question itself whether it was moral or not to carry on. He also claimed that the slave imports from Africa into the territories of Spain was an imposition from a treaty with other empires and not something they wanted to do on their own.

As far as life in the viceroyalties, he shows figures that suggest that per capita, citizens in New Spain (now Mexico) for instance were way better off than citizens in England or France, he even joked that Mexico had sewage before London got theirs.

He exemplifies the different approaches showing that for instance, the effort of Spain was to spread culture around their territories, establishing schools, churches, hospitals and universities. Contrasting that with the efforts of other empires for whom their conquered territories were more like factories than colonies.

He mentions that Mexico had a printing press and a newspaper before the US and some European countries (1541 Mexico, 1704 US, 1615 Germany and 1622 England)

The first autopsy happened in Mexico in 1579 a year before in happened in Europe, and the natives were taught written language so that their texts could be recorded and maintained. He also mentioned that neither the Portuguese nor the Dutch founded universities in their therrotiries.

He also mentioned how no writers under Spanish rule were ever prosecuted for their works.

He also noted the difference of the participation of the people in the policy of their nation, he mentioned that for instance in England the people allowed to vote were about 1% (and they paid for that right) and in France less than 0.5% after the revolution. While in the Spanish provinces in the americas there was a concept of “Cabildos” which were small parliaments of small areas that allowed a larger participation of the population.

Also, labor law would allow for respite on weekends and 8hour work days and only a certain percentage of the work for Spaniard was allowed by the natives.

The directly above he shows as proof that the idea that life in the viceroyalties was an oppressive one is a myth. Who would oppress their people by making them prosper, educated and able to participate in the executive decisions of their government?

—-

I hope I did the video justice, like I mentioned above he seems to have a very romantic view of Spain that could have clouded his vision and how he presented the information, so I will take it with a grain of salt, it is nonetheless interesting and fun to learn some of these things. As I mentioned previously, I continue to realize how little did I know.

Thanks for reading and sorry for the lengthy post.
 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Very interesting Alejo! Thanks for the summaries. You may like a historical novel titled El corazón de piedra verde, by Salvador de Madariaga. Very well written, it shows what seems to be a more balanced comparison between the native civilization (mainly the Aztecs, who were quite a bloody bunch!), and the Spaniards, including Cortés. It also talks about the parallels between the Inquisition and some of the native rituals, explaining in between the lines that in the end, it depends not on where you are, but on who you are, and what values you live by. I liked it, FWIW.

seems to suggest that there wasn’t that many people living in America to begin with
That's quite possible.

There are figures that show that Mexico city or Lima, for instance, were better off than London and Paris back in the 18th and 19th century, their population more prosper.
That makes sense too, though I had never thought about it.

I think it would be interesting to compile the information you gather, and make a series of articles for SOTT. It can be an example of how history is often be used for "victimization" purposes, rather than being told more accurately.

The directly above he shows as proof that the idea that life in the viceroyalties was an oppressive one is a myth. Who would oppress their people by making them prosper, educated and able to participate in the executive decisions of their government?
Good point. And I think the same may to countries like Filippines (building of schools, viceroyalties, etc.) up until when the US took over right after the Spanish-American war.
 

Gaby

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Thanks for sharing, Alejo! Very interesting. In a related note, I read "Negros y Blancos - Todo Mezclado" by Tatiana Lobo Wiehoff and Mauricio Melénez Obando. It contains the genealogy of various founding families in Costa Rica and it also has multiple testimonies and transcriptions of court records from that time, mainly 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It definitely shows a much less romanticized version of Spain, but you can get an idea that it was not as bad as it is portrayed by mainstream history.

One reason Costa Rica has so much African admixture is because slaves under British colonies who managed to escape would take boats to reach the Spanish colonies (i.e. Costa Rica) where they would beg to become part of the Spanish Kingdom because they actually had rights as slaves under the Spanish Crown. All the testimonies agreed in one thing - brutal British masters were the worst.

The bureaucracy sounded fair enough and moral in writing under the Spanish rule, in practice it was another much harsher reality where injustices were systematic. But this was not a black or white thing. Whites would also be slaves to blacks and on it goes.

Most of the population in Costa Rica is a mix of Amerindian, Black and Iberian populations. The Spanish didn't have any reservations to getting mixed!

More information here:

 

Alejo

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you Chu and Gaby! I’ll check the sources out!

I’m trying to take a detached look at that section of history and understand what went on. From the looks of it it paints a picture of a process similar to the color revolutions of today taking place back then that culminated in the independences of the viceroyalties and the subsequent chaos that ensued.

I know for instance that Colombia went from a prosper viceroyalty to a nation in civil war almost immediately without planning or structure culminating in what the country is today, a vassal, and Bolivar himself was not particularly like even in what later became Venezuela.

I will continue to add more information as I run into it. Every kingdom (Mexico, Argentina, Peru and I’m sure Philippines) has an interesting history that kind of points to the same manipulation of historical events.
 

Windmill knight

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Very interesting. Since the topic was first mentioned in the Sott Spanish group, I've been trying to remember what I learned in school and how that compares with the perspective above. Since highschool and into university, I actually had some exceptionally good history teachers, so what you say above is not shocking to me. For example, I was already clear about the following:

  • The way the Spanish behaved towards the indigenous people depended a lot on the circumstances and individuals - sometimes better, some worse - but they did have a general policy of assimilating, mixing and 'civilizing' rather than exterminating or pushing away, in contrast with the US and Canada. That's why there's so much mixed blood in Latin America, but further north, not really.
  • The indigenous people themselves were not all noble and wise. In fact, the Aztecs in particular were the evil empire of the region, hated by all the other surrounding tribes, and had religious practices that I can only describe as demonic. They don't get my sympathy. The thing is that part of the Mexican mythology is to idealize them as 'our glorious past', which is nonsense. They intentionally came up with that at a time in which they were trying to distance themselves from Spain after the independence.
  • The inquisition, I do remember being taught that they were nowhere really as murderous as claimed. For one, it was extremely easy to get away with some sort of punishment other than death - you just had to repent! So the actual documented figures apparently do show much less executions than people imagine. (Not that they were a nice bunch, but their image was exaggerated).
  • The independence heroes had very personal and selfish motives to start the movement.
  • Mexicans are NOT descendants of Aztecs, neither culturally nor genetically, and the same goes for all other indigenous tribes. Mexicans are the result of a mix and as a country it was born with the mixture of both people.
The only thing that perhaps I retained as a myth in my mind, was the idea that Mexico was sort of a 50/50 mix from European and Native American culture and genes. But one day I went to Spain and I was shocked at how similar it was to Mexico. The culture, architecture, lifestyle, even the behavior and to some extent physical appearance were almost the same. I concluded that, culturally, Mexico, and I suppose all of Latin America, was perhaps 80% European, except perhaps for the indigenous people who were direct descendents with very little mix, and who lived in remote areas, retaining more 'pure' traditions. As for genetics, in general the mix is more like a wide range, from people who look totally indigenous, to others who look totally European, with all sorts of percentages in between.
 

Bluegazer

Padawan Learner
But one day I went to Spain and I was shocked at how similar it was to Mexico.
It's not surprising, but because you have to add something more to the mix. Before Colon arrived, Spain was under Muslim rule for approximately 800 years! This was from 711 to 1492.

You will find that much of the current Spanish phenotype has Arabic traits.

The genetics of Latin America has more than meets the eye.

In addition to the mixture between Caucasian Spanish and the American aborigine, who is the typical mestizo, you have mixtures of African with the aborigine, and in turn Caucasian with African, etc.

With that you have an idea how mixed the population is.

Later would come the European migrations of the early 20th century.
 

OrangeScorpion

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
“Truly, your great enemy is the Spaniard. He is. He is a natural enemy, he is naturally so ... This state is your enemy, and is your enemy ... naturally, by that antipathy that is in him providentially” - Oliver Cromwell, speech to the English Parliament (1654)
Thank you very much, Alejo, for sharing this information. I would like to go a little deeper into the term “Black Legend”. From Wikipedia:

A black legend is a historiographical phenomenon in which a sustained trend in historical writing of biased reporting and introduction of fabricated, exaggerated and/or decontextualized facts is directed against particular persons, nations or institutions with the intention of creating a distorted and uniquely inhuman image of them while hiding their positive contributions to history. The term was first used by French writer Arthur Lévy in his 1893 work Napoléon Intime, in contrast to the expression "Golden Legend" that had been in circulation around Europe since the publication of a book of that name during the Middle Ages.[citation needed]

Historian Alfredo Alvar defined a black legend as:

"The careful distortion of the history of a nation, perpetrated by its enemies, in order to better fight it. And a distortion as monstrous as possible, with the goal of achieving a specific aim: the moral disqualification of the nation, whose supremacy must be fought in every way possible."
— Alfredo Alvar, La Leyenda Negra (1997:5)
Though black legends can be perpetrated against any nation or culture, the term "The Black Legend" has come to refer specifically to "The Spanish Black Legend" when not otherwise qualified, the theory that anti-Spanish political propaganda from the 16th century or earlier, whether about Spain, the Spanish Empire or Hispanic America, was sometimes "absorbed and converted into broadly held stereotypes" that assumed that Spain was "uniquely evil." The absorption of political propaganda and outright fabrications into mainstream academic interpretations of Spanish history, along with their use to conceal or sanitize inconvenient facts about other nations, resulted in a systematic repetition of such anti-Spanish bias and distortions. Commonly cited examples of this include the Spanish Inquisition and the relationship between Spanish colonists in the New World and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Julián Juderías, according to Wikipedia, “He was the first historian to describe and denounce this phenomenon in an organized way.” In his book "Black Legend, (1914)" he comments:

The environment created by the fantastic stories about our homeland that have been published in all countries, the grotesque descriptions that have always been made of the character of Spaniards as individuals and collectively, the denial or at least the systematic ignorance of all that is favorable and beautiful in the various manifestations of culture and art, the accusations that in every era have been flung against Spain.
What I'm trying to point out here is that Black Legend is not something that relates exclusively to the history of Hispanic America, but to everything Spanish.

Tolerabilius esse vivere sub Turca, quam Hispanis, nam Turcam confirmatio regno servare iustitiam, sed Hispanos plane esse bestias” It is more tolerant to live under Turkish power than Hispanic, since Turks sustain their kingdom with justice, while Hispanics are evidently beasts.
Martin Luther
No one will be surprised to know that it was the Protestant countries that most attacked Spain, considering that Spain was the great representative of Catholicism and Christian values, what is really surprising is that the Hispanic world is one of the greatest defenders of Black Legend. From Argentina to Mexico, through Spain of course, hispanophobia spreads like the plague. The rejection of Spanish identity, of the Spanish past, is at the base of the educational system of the entire Hispanic world.

Yes, there is a more impartial and objective education, as Windmill knight has explained very well, but it is undoubtedly an exception.

Returning to Juderías, in his book "The Black Legend" he makes a surprising list of all the foreigners who have attacked Spain in the last 5 centuries, but also, it has been from abroad where Hispanic art has been praised, its philosophy, its customs, its gifts for peace, for urbanity, the qualities of Hispanics for commercial contracts with foreigners and in dealing with them... However, the enthusiasm of Spaniards to talk about their culture shines by its absence:

"In a word, the most interesting problems of our life as a nation have been studied outside Spain -it is painful to confess it- with more fervor than within it, which does not prevent us, in the eyes of most foreigners, from continuing to be inquisitors, proud, enemies of culture, alien to any idea of freedom and tolerance. The explanation for this phenomenon consists in the fact that it is useless to look for traces of the studies listed above in the great works as a whole that aspire to reflect the political, religious, economic or artistic evolution of modern peoples; in Forrest's book, in Draper's, in Buckle's, in Sergi's, in Vallaux's, in Rätzel's, in Friedrich's, in Guizot's lessons, in encyclopaedias and in the most useful and widespread manuals. All of them speak little or badly of Spain. [...] The legend prevails."
Historians who claim that black legend is a thing of the past and no longer exists have no idea of the magnitude of this phenomenon, IMHO.

Philip W. Powell, United States historian, provides various examples of how it was still active in modern history:

Spaniards who came to the New World seeking opportunities beyond the prospects of their European environment are contemptuously called cruel and greedy "goldseekers," or other opprobrious epithets virtually synonymous with Devils; but Englishmen who sought New World opportunities are more respectfully called "colonists," or "homebuilders," or "seekers after liberty." (...) When Spaniards expelled or punished religious dissidents that was called "bigotry," "intolerance," "fanaticism" ... When Englishmen, Dutchmen, or Frenchmen did the same thing, it is known as "unifying the nation,"...
From Wikipedia:

In 1944, the American Council of Education released a report on anti-Hispanism in school textbooks, identifying a large number of basic errors, inexactitudes and biased portrayals. It concluded that "The abolition of the Black Legend and its effects in our interpretation of Latin American life is one of our main problems in the educational and intellectual aspect, as well as in the political sphere", and urged for textbooks' biases and errors to be fixed. However, according to Powell, in 1971 all the core errors were still in the majority of school materials.
On the current Latin America–United States relations:

Powell considered it the root of current diplomatic problems and anti-Latino sentiment in the United States, and he shows so in his 1971 work The Tree of Hate: Propaganda and Prejudices Affecting Relations with the Hispanic World. The view of the Black Legend affecting the present-day United States' immigration policy has gained supporters in the current political climate. The narrative of the "degenerated race" is argued to be at the root of the racist discrimination suffered by Latinos in America.
The current Catalan conflict in Spain, although the subject of another debate, is another example that Hispanophobia and black legend are still very much alive today.

Or what happened last October 12 (Hispanic Day) in the U.S. with indigenous collectives cutting off the heads of Columbus' statues. Really? And no one cuts off the heads of the statues of English generals? Is Columbus to blame for the fact that there are no indigenous people in North America?

In the latest best-seller of Israeli historian and writer Yuval Noah Harari, "Sapiens", the Spanish empire appears twice and briefly in a book of a thousand pages.

I think Powel would have dedicated half a book to the Hispanic world. Look at his vision of the Spanish empire:

“Spanish rules in the Americas, spanning more than three centuries—four, if we include Cuba and Puerto Rico—was one of the greatest imperial achievements in all history. In opening such territories to European view, and then managing them, Spaniards expanded mankind's materials and intellectual horizons enormously. The most suitable parallel to Spain's activities beyond the confines of the known world, would be twentieth-century entry into space.” Powel. Philip Wayne. Tree of Hate. London and New York: Basic Books Inc. 1971.
Luther's head would explode if he heard what Benjamin Keen thinks of Hispanity.

"Spain declined and lost her empire because she abandoned the spiritual values of true ‘Hispanidad’, values which found their fullest expression in the Spain of Charles I and Phillip II, and she became embraced in liberalism, rationalism, democracy, and other pagan divisive doctrines”
Keen, Benjamin. "The Black Legend Revisited: Assumption and Realities." Hispanic American Historical Review 49 (1969): 703-719.
It is very curious to me how those who do not follow the official current tend to exalt the Spanish empire powerfully. It seems to me that the history of the Spanish empire is totally ideologized, or you hate it, or you love it, and I think it is the duty of the editors of es.SOTT to find the truth in all this matter. If es.SOTT doesn't, who will? And this is a job that belongs to us, the Hispanic editors, IMHO.

My conclusion, after all that I have learned in the last two years, because I recognize that as a good Spaniard I was completely unaware of my history, is that with its imperfections, it was a great empire, that can be demonstrated, that it functioned as a single organ, with a solid political, juridical and economical organization, that created a new race, a new culture, that celebrated cultural diversity, that its people were happy, were proud to be Spanish and had purchasing power that they have never had on either side of the Atlantic since the empire fell ... and that in many ways this empire influenced the entire world. And I will try to demonstrate it in this thread with the data that I have been compiling.

And this empire does not exist in the historiography of the western world. And don't expect to see Hispanics crying over it, because Hispanics are the first to refuse to believe that there was a time when Hispanity dominated the world. And this anomaly can only be understood under the phenomenon of Hispanophobia and Black Legend, in my humble opinion.

"There is a moment strange and superior to the human species: Spain from 1500 to 1700." Hippolyte Taine, 19th-century French philosopher.
 

Alejo

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Allow me to continue here,

This is Martin Rios Saloma a historian from the UNAM in Mexico, along with other credentials that I forget. He’s a professor so his lecture is a lot more pleasant and academic than the guy from the previous video. It’s lengthy but it’s very good.


My summary:

His focus is particularly on the kingdom of new Spain which is what today became Mexico, but back then it was the territory from Costa Rica to Alaska west of the Mississippi, but including a large chunks of the southern US and Florida as well as Cuba.

He expands a bit on the details of the debate on the humanity of the natives undertaken by Bartolomé de las casas, it was a philosophical one where if they were human thus rational beings thus susceptible to the divine word and thus it was felt by Bartolomé that, as part of the catholic principles, it was their duty to educate and civilize them and reason with them, something that prevented, in principle and as a policy of the crown in Castilla, slavery of the natives through the Burgos Laws. Which might’ve pushed African slavery.

This he uses to dispell the notion that the conquest was a mere imposition for power, there was a complex and sofisticated debate taking place.

Another thing he mentioned in the line of the conquest was that it was really a long term plan of Spain to have an expansion, that people like Cortez didn’t come to purely improvise, they had a mission and it was their main thrust for what took place.

He also speaks of the term colony, which was used to undermine the work of the Spaniards, but he insists that the evidence suggests that it was closer to the classical meaning of the word. Which was to cultivate and develop the land and include new people into the kingdom, who were then protected by them.

For this he uses various examples, he asks the audience at some point to name the prettiest cities in the country, and they all turnout to be colonial cities. Also the names of the cities imply an adoption and mixing of cultures that respected the natives but also included them into the larger empire. These cities were also beautiful as they were planned and laid out as part of a larger outlook on what the goal was.

He also notes that the impetus for the expansion was one of struggle for world positioning, it was a normal reaction to the saturation of trade routes by other empires of the world that created a need to look elsewhere. If it hadn’t been the Spaniards it would’ve been the Turks or English or Dutch who would’ve eventually landed in America.

In terms of the black legend, although he doesn’t use this term, he explains how nations were conceived of first. Essentially the role of historiography is to create social cohesion of a people into common values, land of origin, language and so on to create a community which then generate what is known today as a nation.

He explains how in the 19th century there was a big push forward in this idea and thus established the idea of nations. In this era what served the powers that be at the time was to create the notion that Spain was a nation and so was Mexico and they had always been so, which created the notion that Mexico had been a victim, as a nation, of another ones invasion and conquest and colonization, against their will.

To illustrate his point, and he goes through great lengths, he asks...”when was Mexico born? And for that matter when was Spain born? Since when are we Mexicans? And what constitutes being Mexican?” The answer is in 1821. But what is known today as Mexico, as Windmill Knight pointed out is a mixture of several influences, mostly Spanish.

What constitutes a nation? He goes on, what unites us? Language, names, religion, values, and so on... so the only thing tha differentiated people born in Mexico from people born is Spain was geographical location at birth and thus, this is what was used to create the division.

He further illustrates the effort of the 19th century historiographers by showing that in Mexico at least, there are things and historical events that are commemorated but some are not that ought to be given their historical significance. For instance the conquest of Tenochtitlán, which was crucial.

This effort also gave rise to something called indigenismo, which was the notion that only indigenous peoples comprised the ancestry of Mexico, that the Spaniards had been victimizers and that Mexicans were only victims who were destined to suffer for the rest of time.

That part was funny yet important as he gave the example of someone throwing garbage on the street and excusing his careless irresponsible behavior on “oh but we were conquered and robbed of our riches by the Spaniards, it’s not my fault I’m just a result of what happened to me” (more or less).

He speaks of the directions by leaders of the PRI (political party born out of the Mexican revolution) to cement the idea that the Spaniards were awful beings who came to obliterate the poor and defenseless natives.

Which is interesting, because this type of historical narrative, spread through education and a government body born out of a revolution whose reason to exist was dependent upon the victimization being real, does permeate the behavior of individuals over generations. I hope this is clear.

Then he gives more example of how even the native tribes chiefs had adopted the Spaniards, placing their seals in their historical documents. Mexico (or new Spain) was also central in world commerce. He says jokingly that today’s peso is a far cry from what Mexican silver was back then where people traded in Mexican currency more or less.

Which reminded me of something the guy from the other video said, the Dollar was a Spanish currency, I’m not sure how to qualify that though.

All in all, I truly like his approach as he himself says, what is needed is a scientific look at the historical truth of (in his case) Mexico, a discussion to dismiss the propaganda and the efforts that while understandable, created a vacuum and a break in the timeline.

I’m sure I left out a few points, his lecture is loaded with interesting information, and I hope I did it justice. He’s got a few more videos, apparently there’s a CEHM which is a center for the study of Mexican history and they’ve delved into all of this so there’s plenty to go through.

Hopefully next time I’ll get a bit into the story of Peru.

Thanks for reading.
 

mrtn

Jedi Master
Which reminded me of something the guy from the other video said, the Dollar was a Spanish currency, I’m not sure how to qualify that though.
The spanish connection to the Dollar is something very interesting that I just recently became aware of.
From german Wikipedia (Dollar – Wikipedia) translated with deepl:
Origin and origin of the name
An Eisenhower dollar (1972) with a portrait of US President Eisenhower

The word dollar is derived from the German coin name Taler, which became Daler in Low German. Taler or thaler was the short name of the Joachimstaler, a silver coin in the value of a guilder. The name Dolaro or Dolares appeared for the first time under Emperor Charles V to differentiate between the 8 Reales pieces (Peso), which had deteriorated in circulation, and the pieces, which had a full silver content. The name Dolaro was derived from the Dutch Daalder (Taler), when the Netherlands was under Spanish occupation.

The first official Dolaros was then minted by King Philip II of Spain from 1575 in Potosí (today Bolivia). They were equal with the Dutch Phillipusdaalder and were often captured by English privateers. Thus they came into the British North American colonies and became so a sought-after (substitute) means of payment for lack of sufficient English means of payment (Silver-Crowns). Queen Elisabeth I of England officially minted the first dollars from 1600 onwards and then spread them in her colonies via the British East India Company.

The American Coinage Act of April 2, 1792 declared the "Spanish Dollar or Peso" with a silver fine weight of 371.25 grains or the equivalent of 24.056 g to be the main currency unit. It applied:

1 Dollar = 10 Dimes = 100 Cents

At the same time, a 10-dollar gold coin at 24.7 grains fine was planned, corresponding to a gold/silver value ratio of 1:15. From then on every citizen could also coin gold and silver coins according to these legal coin feet - with a corresponding delivery of precious metals - privately and thus have his money "produced" with a state coin design.

The former currency tolar of the state of Slovenia (1991-2007) is also linguistically related.
Dollar signs
dollar sign with one line, but can also be displayed with two lines (original version)
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The currency symbol for the dollar is the "dollar sign" $, it appears at the latest in the 1770s first in manuscripts in business transactions between Mexico and the British colonies of North America to mark the Spanish currency. The origin cannot be clearly proven, but it is likely that it developed over time from the handwritten abbreviation Ps for Peso(s) or Piaster (originally weight measures).

The dollar sign is represented as a large S with two vertical lines in former times, today often with only one vertical line. The sign is also often seen as a symbol for the "Pillars of Heracles" (the two vertical lines), which symbolize the (Spanish) claim to overseas dominion.[1] The curved S line would in this case be a stylized "banner". The banner was originally embossed on the 8-reales pieces of the 16th/17th century as part of the Spanish coat of arms and is still part of the Spanish coat of arms today.

Contrary to widespread opinion, the "dollar sign" was not created by overlaying the letters "U" and "S" to "$".

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
 

seek10

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
  • The way the Spanish behaved towards the indigenous people depended a lot on the circumstances and individuals - sometimes better, some worse - but they did have a general policy of assimilating, mixing and 'civilizing' rather than exterminating or pushing away, in contrast with the US and Canada. That's why there's so much mixed blood in Latin America, but further north, not really.
I don't know much about Latin America. While reading "Cold Welcome" one theme that comes out with Spanish motivations to find new locations is they want "Mediterranean climate" - Mexico or Florida.

Glad to see all Colonial masters are brutal as history teaches. On the other hand, this text startled me while reading "Cold Welcome".
The survivors brought word of the incident to San Juan, and Vicente de Zaldívar returned to Acoma a month later with a larger force. They took the pueblo by storm, massacring scores of inhabitants and capturing the rest. A Spanish trial convicted the pueblo of treason and rebellion, and sentenced all Acomas to servitude. The Spanish cut off one hand and one foot from every man. The brutality was typical of early modern warfare, and the punishment had been a usual one for Indians captured during the Chichimeca War.
Probably, the visible effects sends signals to the population, thus reducing the total deaths? or Simply Spaniards are good and british who came later adapted to new covert methods (divide and rule)? or simply it is seen through lens of propaganda of Non-Spaniards
 

Alejo

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
That’s a good question Seek10,

And that book is on my list of readings as I dive into it. As far as that description of the incident. Not sure whether it was factual or propaganda, I couldn’t tell, I guess that depends on the source.

Although I must add that scenes like that must have taken place by Spaniards, but within their historical context and without trying to apply current moral values to their actions, I’d say it wouldn’t be surprising. It seems that back then behavior as such was normalized.

So the Spaniards weren’t saints in a humanitarian endeavor either, but the larger timeframe points at a different focus for their conquest.
 

Gaby

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I read "A Cold Welcome" and it does portray a less romanticized version of history on both parts: colonizers and colonized. Hunger, extreme climate and dire circumstances can bring the worst of people. The author is careful about citing his sources and listing all the testimonies. It's worth reading.
 
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