European Debates on the Conquest of the Americas Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Lewis Hanke (essay date 1935)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hanke, Lewis. “The Theoretical Problems Created by the Conquest of America.” In The First Social Experiments in America: A Study in the Development of Spanish Indian Policy in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 3-18. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1935.

[In the following essay, Hanke discusses how Spain's discovery of new civilizations in the sixteenth century sparked a number of religious and secular debates about how American Indians should be treated, most centering finally on whether American aboriginals should be regarded as rational beings or savages.]

The discovery of America precipitated a flood of theories which has not yet fully abated and, as...

(The entire section is 5643 words.)

Lewis Hanke (essay date 1938)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hanke, Lewis. “The ‘Requerimiento’ and its Interpreters.” Revista de Historia de America, no. 1 (March 1938): 25-34.

[In the following essay, Hanke argues that the Spanish Requerimiento, drafted early in the sixteenth century to justify Spain's war of conquest against American Indians, explains a great deal about attitudes towards the indigenous peoples that prevailed in the period after discovery of the New World.]

“The study of human societies is not only of an almost inconceivable diversity and multiplication of aspects but is of such a nature that no man, however balanced he may be, however determined to maintain himself...

(The entire section is 3984 words.)

Howard Mumford Jones (essay date 1952)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jones, Howard Mumford. “The Anti-Image.” In O Strange New World: American Culture: The Formative Years, pp. 35-61. New York: The Viking Press, 1952.

[In the following excerpt, Jones argues that in the first three centuries after discovery of the New World the Spanish and English generally regarded American Indians as monsters and devils, and he examines the ways they used descriptions of how natives engaged in cannibalism, torture, and deceit to justify European warfare.]

If the discoverers, in Peter Martyr's words, “ruined and exhausted themselves by their own folly and civil strife, failing absolutely to rise to the greatness expected of men who...

(The entire section is 5077 words.)

J. H. Elliott (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Elliott, J. H. “The Discovery of America and the Discovery of Man.” In Spain and Its World, 1500-1700: Selected Essays, pp. 42-64. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Elliott argues that the measuring stick sixteenth-century Spaniards used to portray the customs and nature of American Indians reveals as much about the attitudes of Europeans themselves as it does about the Native Americans they attempted to describe.]

‘Two things,’ wrote Michelet in a famous passage, ‘belong to this age [the sixteenth century] more than to all its predecessors: the discovery of the world, the discovery of man.’1 By ‘the...

(The entire section is 9935 words.)

Luis N. Rivera (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Rivera, Luis N. “Rational Creatures or Bruta Animalia?” In A Violent Evangelism: The Political and Religious Conquest of the Americas, pp. 132-53. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992.

[In the following essay, which originally appeared in Spanish in 1990, Rivera discusses the debate in Spanish America concerning whether American Indians were best categorized as brutes or humans, either position having important implications for how natives would be governed, whether they would be compelled to work or worship, and what educational opportunities they would have.]

[They] are like asses … are beastly in their vices … are not...

(The entire section is 13322 words.)

Franklin Pease G. Y. (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Pease G. Y., Franklin. “Spanish and Andean Perceptions of the Other in the Conquest of the Andes.” In Violence, Resistance, and Survival in the Americas: Native Americans and the Legacy of Conquest, edited by William B. Taylor and Franklin Pease G. Y., pp. 15-39. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Pease argues that the manner in which Spaniards justified their sixteenth-century conquest of the Andes—by enforcing stereotypes that Incan rulers were illegitimate and treacherous, and that Andean people believed that Spaniards were gods—was a pattern of domination common to all Spanish conquests in the Americas.]


(The entire section is 10587 words.)