The Support for the Spanish by Hanke Essay Example


The early history of America frequently doesn't start with the colonization by the Spanish, but with the Europeans. When in it does, there seems to be a cloud of darkness when the Spanish come into view. The black legend has followed the Spanish through many centuries because of the brutality that is found from their actions. This legend pulls on the concept that when the Spanish came to the Americas they only brought danger and destruction with them. God, Gold, and Glory are a classic example used for much of the basis of the black legend. The “Three G’s” explain that the Spanish through the period of exploration came to spread Catholicism, as well as gain wealth, and to bring splendor to the crown.

An underlying theme spoke of quite often is that each of these only show the selfish desires that the Spanish had. Because of the way this is explained there is, of course, going to be pushed back, meaning when there is black there is white and for the black legend, there is the white legend. The white legend a counterbalance to the black legend that tries to establish that the Spanish benefitted the native Americans by introducing them to religion and proper society. Though Hanke attempts to apply enough basis for his thesis, in his work he mistakes a lot of the action of the Spanish to almost protecting their purpose there.  Hanke is writing into the white legend of the Spanish, and his attempts overlook many of the actions that the Spanish did. 

Hankes support for the Spanish is merely for the religious aspect of their conquest. He looks at all of the actions of the Spanish through a narrow view. Though, Hanke wouldn't be wrong, if he was arguing that only the friars and only the religious powers came to change the spiritual lives of the natives and it stopped there. Early in his writing, Hanke states “It was the friars, looking to save souls, to win, rather than the conquistadors, who first began to study Indian customs, history, and religion.”(Hanke 183) There is no doubt that the Friars were there to learn and teach with the natives but religion can be used in many ways. Religion was used to acculturate the natives without having to violently force them to change the social, political, and cultural aspects of their lives.(B&J 101)

One cannot say for sure that the intentions of the religious powers were pure or meant for evil doing but in Hankes’work he quotes George Kubler who states“ No building could be achieved without prior urbanization of the participants. To urbanize the Indian population was to dislocate and destroy patterns of indigenous culture. Such Cultural extirpation brought about, in turn, the biological decrease of the Indian race…. Each building and each colonial artifact were nourished by the destruction of a culture and the decline of a race.”( Hanke 182) In order to break down, destroy and dislocate native culture they first needed to acculturate them into the Spanish world, the use of religion was not just used for saving the souls of the natives but for their ruining culture and history. 

Hanke further his statements by bringing in the encomienda system as useful way to herd the natives together and create a “very remarkable institution”(Hanke 182)“The encomienda system, by which groups of Indians were assigned to Spaniards, a device to provide both labor and goods to the Spaniard and protection and religious instruction for the natives, was both stoutly defended and bitterly attacked as un-Christian throughout the sixteenth century by Spaniards themselves.”(Hanke 182) Hanke isn't wrong in this view that the encomienda was a system the benefitted the Spaniards. But to the extent to say that the Indians really benefitted much under unwanted control is ludicrous.

Though the natives had already had a system that was similar in the sense that they paid tribute to an overruling power before contact with the settlers and conquistadors. (B&J 131) The Spanish wanted to not only exploit the agriculture but the people who lived there as well. The encomienda system had possessed a manner of morality attempting to hold the Indians just over the level of slavery by having “better work conditions, living condition, and food standards and restrictions on punishments.”(B&J 131) Even with these standards in place, being enforced by the Law of Bugos, they were still disregarded much of the time by the Spanish. ( B&J 131) 

Believing Hanke isn't an option when the truth seems disregarded on simple circumstances. The native American population could have benefited and might have from the Spanish but for them to come in and completely change their lives and culture to fit the Spanish culture and accommodations is wrong. “...Spaniards... paid serious attention to the culture of the people they met” this is true, but they only paid attention to gain more for themselves than add to the native culture. They ended up destroying more than they actually culturally benefited and only financially befitted from most of it.

 

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