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Spaniards in the Colonial Mexico and Peru (Research Paper Sample)


This paper discusses how Spaniards administered existing native organizational structures, labor and tribute in the context of the colonial Mexico and Peru.


Spaniards in the Colonial Mexico and Peru
The Inca and Aztecs were the ancient inhabitants of Peru and Mexico respectively. Lured by rumors of wealth of the Aztec and the Inca, a Spanish adventurer known as Hernán Cortés assembled his soldiers and in 1519, he began his journey to Mexico and Peru. Hernán Cortés, and his soldiers arrived in eastern Mexico and they started their march inland. Superior firepower, indignation against the Aztec and Inca by defeated tribes in both Mexico and Peru, and some considerable luck helped Spaniards in their conquest of the two tribes. The Aztec had never seen guns or horses before, which added to their subjugation. In addition, Hernán Cortés had the advantage of the ancient Aztec belief that a white god would come to their land in 1519 from the east, and demolish the indigenous civilizations. Unwilling to oppose the mysterious arrival, the Aztec emperor at that time, Moctezuma II, welcomed the Spanish party. This paper discusses how Spaniards administered existing native organizational structures, labor and tribute in the context of the colonial Mexico and Peru.
Montezuma was later on arrested, and the Spaniards took command over his territory “Tenochtitlan”. The Aztec chieftains planned a revolt, and they managed to force the Spanish out of their capital. Spanish recruited new troops and by 1521, they were ready to conquer the city. They managed to win the battle, which raged for three weeks. After the fall of Tenochtitlan, now the Spaniards embarked on settling and expanding North, and Central America, which they called New Spain. Cortes dispatched various expeditions to conduct surveys in the areas neighboring the valley of Mexico, and he ordered them to establish political control over the land. Most towns submitted to Cortés men and a new capital was established, and named Mexico after the Mexica tribe.
To conquer Aztec an Inca empires, Cortes army had to put a lot of effort and sacrifice and as a result, their success had to be acknowledged. They demanded what they were fighting for: wealth and prestige. Since Cortés men had surveyed all Aztec records connected to tributes and tributary towns, he decided to divide grants of the inhabitants and their land among his men. This practice had once been done in the Caribbean, where Cortés had been given encomiendas (Spanish institution of Roman origin) and land. In the new world, Cortes and his men established various rights and obligations to govern the New Spain. The inhabitants were supposed to provide tribute, and free labor. Although hardship and diseases killed the indigenous population in large numbers, Spaniards continued to storm the new world because of their great desires of wealth. They came along with African slaves who provided free labor in the central areas of New Spain.
In 1527, the first judicial body was established in New Spain. It was known as the audiencia of Mexico City. It was composed of four judges who held both legislative and executive powers. The crown also recognized the need of a post that would be able to take rule beyond the local allegiances. As a result, control of bureaucracy was to be under Antonio de Mendoza, who was declared the first viceroy of Mexico and its surroundings. Although his duties were extensive, they excluded judicial matters that were entrusted to the audiencia. Viceroys executed their duties with notoriety and exercised their rule with discretion and use of maxim.
The philosophy of mercantilism marked as the propelling force behind all ventures made by European colonial powers. This set of ideas stressed that the most essential function of the colonial possessions was to benefit the mother country. As a result, Mexico was supposed to supply raw materials to Spain that would be used to manufacture finished goods, to be sold to the colonies. In the mid-sixteenth century, the governing authority started giving land grants to Europeans who were willing to farm or raise livestock in the under-populated regions. Inhabitants of these lowly populated areas were left landless as the Europeans grabbed their land. Due to the fear of forced labor, they had to flee to mining camps, larger towns where the landless could hire themselves as servants, artisans, laborers, or peons.
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