Learning Something New

When I find a word I haven’t heard before, I prefer to take time to understand it. This helps to understand the document I am reading and it usually helps me understand the circumstance of when or why the document was created.

For instance,

In researching a family line, I came across the word ” Encomienda”. I looked at the Britannica Encyclopedia online to better understand the word and its circumstances.

EncyclopaediaBritannica

The year is 1503:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/encomienda

Encomienda

Spanish policy

Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica  See Article History

Encomienda, in colonial Spanish America, legal system by which the Spanish crown attempted to define the status of the Indian population in its American colonies. It was based upon the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista (“Reconquest”) of Muslim Spain. Although the original intent of the encomienda was to reduce the abuses of forced labour (repartimiento) employed shortly after the discovery of the New World, in practice it became a form of enslavement.

As legally defined in 1503, an encomienda (from encomendar, “to entrust”) consisted of a grant by the crown to a conquistador, soldier, official, or others of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area. The receiver of the grant, the encomendero, could exact tribute from the Indians in gold, in kind, or in labour and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. The encomienda did not include a grant of land, but in practice the encomenderos gained control of the Indians’ lands and failed to fulfil their obligations to the Indian population. The crown’s attempts to end the severe abuses of the system with the Laws of Burgos (1512–13) and the New Law of the Indies (1542) failed in the face of colonial opposition and, in fact, a revised form of the repartimiento system was revived after 1550.

The encomienda was designed to meet the needs of the colonies’ early mining economy. With the catastrophic decline in the Indian population and the replacement of mining activities by agriculture, the system lost its effectiveness and was gradually replaced by the hacienda system of landed estates. The encomienda was not officially abolished, however, until the late 18th century. See also repartimiento. “

HistoryIndianSpanish

Of course this brought me to want to understand the “hacienda” system that replaced the Encomienda:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/hacienda-estate

” Hacienda estate

Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica  See Article History

Hacienda, in Spanish America, a large landed estate, one of the traditional institutions of rural life. Originating in the colonial period, the hacienda survived in many places late into the 20th century. Labourers, ordinarily American Indians, who worked for hacendados (landowners) were theoretically free wage earners, but in practice their employers were able to bind them to the land, especially by keeping them in an indebted state; by the 19th century probably up to a half of the rural population of Mexico was thus entangled in the peonage system. The counterparts of the hacienda in the Río de la Plata (Argentina and Uruguay) region and in Brazil are the estancia and the fazenda, respectively. Hacendados constituted a squirarchy, in whose hands were the reins of local government. In Bolivia until 1952, hacendados had retained many of the privileges inherited from colonial times, and the same was true in 20th-century Ecuador. In Mexico many of the great estates were broken up as a result of the Mexican Revolution of 1911.”

In the first article, it mentioned, “ See also repartimiento.  “, so I did.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/repartimiento

” Repartimiento

Spanish-American history

Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica   See Article History

Alternative Titles: cuatequil, mita

Repartimiento, (Spanish: “partition,” “distribution”) also called mita, or cuatequil, in colonial Spanish America, a system by which the crown allowed certain colonists to recruit indigenous peoples for forced labour. The repartimiento system, frequently called the mita in Peru and the cuatequil (a Spanish-language corruption of Nahuatl coatequitl or cohuatequitl) in New Spain (Mexico), was in operation as early as 1499 and was given definite form about 1575. About 5 percent of the indigenous peoples in a given district might be subject to labour in mines and about 10 percent more for seasonal agricultural work. A colonist who wanted a repartimiento had to apply to the viceroy or the audiencia (provincial appeals court), stating that the supplemental labour required on his plantation or ranch or in his mine would provide the country with essential food and goods.

Legally, the work period was not to exceed two weeks (five in the mines), three or four times annually, and wages were to be paid. Those requirements were practically ignored, however, and, because the forced labourers were often brutally treated, the Spanish government modified the system in 1601 and 1609. Under the new arrangement, 25 percent of the indigenous peoples in a given district were required to work for the Spaniards, but they were free to choose their own employer and term of service. The former system was permitted to continue in the mines until the owners could purchase enough enslaved African people to replace the indigenous workers. The new system remained legally in force down to the end of the colonial period (c. 1820). In practice, however, impressment of indigenous peoples under the earlier system continued in spite of additional royal prohibitive legislation in the 17th and 18th centuries. See also encomienda.”

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